’Easy Wins’, ’Big Strides’ and ’Lasting Impacts’

Analysing opportunities for improvements for the Local Government Climate Change Commission

Project duration: March 2007 to June 2007

Every local authority has easily identifiable opportunities to achieve greater influence over carbon dioxide emissions from its locality, however well or badly it is currently performing in tackling the threat of climate change. But realising these opportunities may have less to do with signing declarations of intent and more to do with achieving incremental improvements in performance.

These are the main conclusions of a report prepared by CSE for the Local Government Association and the Local Government Climate Change Commission.

The report builds significantly on CSE's previous work in this area, particularly the ‘Local and Regional Carbon Management Matrix'. It therefore not only makes a clear case for local authority action, examines the extent of local authority influence (relative to national government), and details the existing opportunities for local authorities to influence local carbon emissions. It also:

  • analyses the local factors associated with different levels of carbon emissions in different local authorities — identifying particularly local wealth and population density (eg rural vs urban)
  • reviews the extent to which differences between authorities justify different priorities for action — concluding that the main factor determining priorities was the quality of the local authority's current performance on tackling climate change, and
  • assesses the relative effort and impact involved in different steps by local authorities to improve their performance on influencing local carbon emissions — leading to the identification of five priority actions in each of three categories: ‘Easy Wins', ‘Big Strides' and ‘Lasting Impacts' (see p6 of the report for details)

The report also examines approaches taken to guide improvement in local authorities. It concludes that, in contrast to other guidance and benchmarking tools which tend to focus on seeking improvement through securing senior management commitment and ‘declarations' at an early stage, the approach suggested by CSE is different.

It focuses on a ‘few people getting on and doing a few things effectively' (‘Easy Wins') as the starting point for improving performance (often by securing input and resources from other agencies like energy advice centres and energy supplier energy saving schemes).

The analysis also exposed some surprising findings — not least that some of the most feted local authorities in relation to tackling climate change had rather high per capita domestic carbon emission levels when compared with other urban local authorities.

The report makes a series of recommendations for action by government, LGA and other agencies — also as Easy Wins, Big Strides and Lasting Impacts — to ensure that local authorities have the support, understanding, resources and sense of compulsion to fulfil their key role in tackling the threat of climate change.

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