Local and Regional Action to Cut Carbon

Studying the potential for local authorities and regional bodies to do more to cut carbon emissions

Project duration: March 2005 to July 2005

Commissioned as part of the UK Government's Climate Change Programme Review, this study was designed to appraise the potential for further action by local authorities and regional bodies in England (such as regional development agencies and regional assemblies) to cut carbon emissions and contribute more significantly towards UK targets by 2010 and beyond.

This study ran from March to July 2005. Its main activities were to:

  • examine evidence of the impact of local authority and regional actions on carbon emissions
  • undertake extensive stakeholder consultation and interviews
  • document and evaluate the range of opportunities for additional action by local and regional bodies
  • analyse the likely carbon savings from improved performance
  • identify and test policies to drive performance improvement

There were six principal findings of the study, which included:

  1. There are significant opportunities for local and regional bodies to take action to reduce carbon emissions within their existing powers and responsibilities
  2. Most local and regional bodies are performing poorly in relation to these potential opportunities, indicating substantial room for improvement and additional carbon emission reductions as a result
  3. Current examples of best practice at local and regional level are principally down to the extensive efforts of 'wilful individuals' who, through their commitment, knowledge and doggedness, have been able to secure local change. It is these individuals rather than any broader national policy or programme which have been the key to success
  4. Such best practice is therefore difficult to replicate and may discourage those seeking to make small but significant improvements from a lower starting point
  5. The key to securing improvement is to use tools like performance assessment to make carbon management a core priority of local authorities at senior level
  6. The current focus of national support programmes on 'best practice' needs to shift towards effort to guide steady and achievable improvements by those exhibiting weak practice

The study drew the opportunities for action together in the Local and Regional Carbon Management Matrix, mapping them across five areas:

  • domestic energy efficiency
  • business energy efficiency
  • public sector energy efficiency
  • renewable energy and low carbon technologies
  • transport

This Matrix also provides a tool for assessing current performance and a guide for improving it by detailing the conduct likely to secure 'weak', 'fair', 'good' or 'excellent' rating for each potential area for action.

The report made 10 recommendations to the Government for inclusion in the new Climate Change Programme, the most significant of which were to acknowledge the greater role which local and regional bodies can play and to introduce climate change and 'carbon management' into the performance assessment framework for local and regional bodies.

For further information contact:

Simon Roberts OBE | 0117 934 1441

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