‘Local governments need to lead decarbonising energy’

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THE UK will not achieve its net zero ambition without the active engagement of the people and organisations living and working in each of the UK’s nations, cities and regions, new paper declares.

A locally led energy transition can bring the skilled jobs, investment and resilience needed for a green recovery and put the country on course to achieving a zero carbon society. 

Regen’s ‘Local leadership to transform our energy system’ is sponsored by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks and aims to inspire and inform local government to play a leadership role in decarbonising energy.

Hazel Williams, head of delivery at Regen, commented on the report: “Given the breadth of roles that local government plays, and that energy touches every aspect of our lives, capturing the potential roles of local authorities on energy has been a challenge Ive wrestled with over the last six months of researching this paper.  

“Local authorities in England have the General Power of Competence, Scottish and Welsh local authorities have an equivalent general ‘well-being’ power, meaning that they are limited in what they can do only by what is legal, their budgetary and resource constraints, political will and their imaginations.  

“It is clear that the UK will not achieve its net zero ambition without the active engagement of the people and organisations living and working in each of the UK’s nations, cities and regions.  

“A locally led energy transition can bring the skilled jobs, investment and resilience needed for a green recovery and put the country on course to achieving a zero carbon society.” 

The report showcases working with energy network operators on critical infrastructure, to building social permission for radical change in their communities.   

The paper sets out a major programme to devolve powers and funding on energy.

This seeks to ‘empower local leaders to tackle the climate emergency at a time when they are facing unprecedented challenges responding to the pandemic and huge pressures on their budgets.’

Regen’s net zero city or county hall diagram sets out six ‘pillars of transformational change’ – these are the six areas where we believe local government can and should play a key role to transform the energy system, from supporting the retrofit market and developing low carbon transport to building social permission for radical change.   

These six pillars are supported by four foundation stones:  

  • Long term political commitment 
  • Effective area-wide governance structures 
  • An agreed level of ambition 
  • Net zero ambitions embedded in the organisation’s culture, ways of working and policies.