Placing local leadership at the heart of net zero

It was great to speak at our Local Leadership event in my new role as Head of cities and regions. I’m excited to be building on the local leadership paper we published last year and focusing on how Regen can best support local authorities, cities and regions to transform our energy system.

As our speaker Louise Marix Evans noted in her report for the Committee on Climate Change, local authorities are going to be critical for delivery, not least because they have influence over around a third of emissions in their local areas.

With the vast majority of local authorities now having declared climate emergencies, it is clear that efforts are now being focused on setting out plans of action and we are all impatient to see these translated into delivery on the ground, through changes to our transport, our heat and power.

Our speakers had some great advice and examples to share, with Antony Littlechild from Dorset council highlighting the importance of getting on with what you have, not waiting for a big team or looking to create the perfect target.

It was noted by Katie Privett from the York and North Yorkshire LEP, the importance (in the absence of much formal support at present) of tapping into champions and driven individuals inside and outside of local authorities who are willing to wade into the mire of local decision-making and policy, determined to make better decisions for our planet.

Aaron Gould, head of local government climate change from MHCLG, outlined some great ideas for how national government can improve support for local authorities to respond and deliver against our climate targets. I’ll be keeping in contact with Aaron as he puts his ideas into practice, looking to get the right national support in place to unlock local leadership.

Responding to a poll, over half of attendees felt that effective and locally cognisant national energy policy, such as on the Future Homes Standard and renewable energy planning guidance, is critical to successful locally determined climate action. Regen is continuing to push for effective net zero national energy policy, such as through our event on Wednesday feeding into BEIS’s Enabling a high renewable, net zero electricity system call for evidence.

However, despite its importance, we are very aware that the UK cannot wait for lengthy national policy processes to conclude before starting action on the ground. So, in the meantime we look forward to actively supporting the processes of local authorities who are filling the national policy vacuum with their action plans filled with hundreds of exciting ideas and stretching commitments.

I am keen to see how these plans translate to action over the course of this critical year.

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