How could your local authority take climate action?

There is an almost endless list of things local authorities (LA’s) can do to help reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Recently, one of the major ways LA’s are reducing the effects of climate change is by creating and using more renewable energy sources. Yes, something as simple as installing solar panels on building rooftops, homes and schools and creating onshore wind farms is making a huge impact not only on reducing electricity bills but reducing our carbon footprint. You may not know this but every EU citizen now has the right to be a part of community energy projects. However, successful energy projects will need to require the public because when citizens are directly involved, renewable policies are better supported which in turn makes us even closer to transitioning to a 100% renewable energy future.

Your voice and involvement is key to driving the change to a more sustainable future! 

Another way LA’s play an important role in reducing transport emissions is through implementing sustainable travel programmes. Encouraging ‘Smarter Choices’ is the key; these are decisions you make that will have a positive impact on the environment.  Examples of this are: car clubs, cycling infrastructure and providing better public transport. Also  promoting low-carbon vehicles by introducing more electric charging infrastructure and purchasing low-carbon buses. 

 

LA’s also have a crucial role in sustainable waste management and waste prevention and through providing separate collection for recycling and food waste, awareness-raising campaigns and implementing waste-to-energy schemes. In addition to managing natural resources to promote biodiversity and reduce the risk of flooding as well as focus on protecting people from the health impacts of a changing climate.

The  main opportunities for us to transition to a more sustainable environment are in the areas of: transport, buildings, waste and energy. Take a look at this list to get a taste of what councils could do to help tackle climate change! 


Transport

  • Stop promoting actions that increase greenhouse gases e.g. increasing road capacity and investing in airport expansion 

 

  • Introduce work-place parking charges and/or ultra-low emission zones and/or a congestion charging area

 

  • Require all taxis to become electric through licensing 

 

  • Support the development of car-sharing

 

  • Ensure rapid transition of own fleet electric vehicles

  • Require the use of electric buses

  • Put Electric Vehicle Charging in place 



Buildings

 

  • Enforce minimum energy efficiency standards in private rented sector

 

  • Help energy companies target fuel poor or vulnerable households with energy efficiency measures

 

  • Retrofit council-owned properties



Waste

 

  • Adopt circular economy waste policies, such as: upcycling or repair initiatives; phasing out all non-essential single use products; and more funding for the collection of food waste. 

 

  • Zero waste to landfill or incineration



Energy 



  • Require renewable energy such as solar or heat pumps

 

  • Switch street lighting to LED lights 

 

  • Divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy projects

 

  • Commit to opposing fracking and other fossil fuel extraction

 

  • Produce biogas

 

If you want to see these actions be taken by your local council then why not try contacting them yourself! Your voice and involvement is key to driving the change to a more sustainable future.

Sources:

33 actions local authorities can take on climate change, 2019. Friends of the Earth. Retrieved from https://policy.friendsoftheearth.uk/insight/33-actions-local-authorities-can-take-climate-change

 

Annabelle J. (2015). Five reasons why local governments should influence climate change plans.The Guardian.Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2015/jan/06/local-government-climate-change-plans.

 

Argyriou, I., Fleming, P., & Wright, A. (2012). Local climate policy: Lessons from a case study of transfer of expertise between UK local authorities. Sustainable Cities and Society5, 87-95.

 

Bell, S. 2020. How can the government help English councils act on climate breakdown? Friends of the Earth. Retrieved from https://policy.friendsoftheearth.uk/insight/how-can-government-help-english-councils-act-climate-breakdown

 

Climate Change Committee. (2020). The Sixth Carbon Budget: The UK’s Path to Net Zero.

 

Committee on Climate Change. (2012). How local authorities can reduce emissions and manage climate risk.

 

Comodi, G., Cioccolanti, L., Polonara, F., & Brandoni, C. (2012). Local authorities in the context of energy and climate policy. Energy policy51, 737-748.

 

Local authority climate emergency: what’s next?, 2019. Carbon Trust. Retrieved from https://www.carbontrust.com/news-and-events/news/local-authority-climate-emergency-whats-next

 

Walsh, M. (2021) Governments are overlooking a key piece in the climate puzzle: community energy. Climate Homes News. Retrieved from https://www.climatechangenews.com/2021/05/24/governments-overlooking-key-piece-climate-puzzle-community-energy/