Climate resilience ‘glaringly absent’ from Levelling Up White Paper

Environmental leaders have called out the ‘absence’ of net-zero commitments and climate adaptation in the government’s Levelling Up White Paper.

The White Paper acknowledges that the shift to net zero could have ‘large and long-lasting effects on virtually every aspect of the economy’, creating opportunities for left-behind places but also posing risks.

However, sustainability experts say the government failed to embed climate resilience and decarbonisation in the strategies for levelling up the nation.

aerial photo of wind turbines near field

Stefanie O’Gorman, Director of Sustainable Economics at Ramboll said: ‘Climate resilience and adaptation is glaringly absent from the levelling up white paper. We urgently need to embed positive climate outcomes (net-zero and resilience) into funding decisions, otherwise we are simply not investing wisely for the future. For instance, how will the transformation of high streets address climate ambitions? Climate resilience and decarbonisation strategies must be embedded into public realm schemes from the outset if they are to be called a success.

‘It is welcome to see ambitions to improve public transport but while ensuring reliability of transport services is important, the paper does not consider the cost of public transport and therefore the real issue of equity of access for all, particularly for poorer areas.’

Climate charity Ashden also said they were ‘really surprised and disappointed’ by the absence of green skills and net zero commitments in the White Paper.

Cara Jenkinson, Cities Manager at Ashden, commented: ‘We are pleased to see the emphasis on skills and devolution in the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper released today but we are really surprised and disappointed to see the absence of green skills and commitments connected to net-zero.

‘This White Paper comes hot on the heels of COP26, where heartfelt commitments were made by government on climate action. The government could have used this chance to kickstart a green industrial revolution throughout the UK and but it has not. We really don’t have time to watch our leaders miss opportunities like this.

‘As highlighted in a new report ‘Road to Zero Carbon: council actions on green jobs and skills’ report published today by Friends of the Earth and Ashden, councils have a deep understanding of local needs and challenges which puts them in a unique position to bring employers and colleges together to deliver local green jobs quickly. But without a long-term funding commitment from government to support this work, together with a genuine devolution of power, the green skills revolution will be patchy, with many parts of the country left behind.

‘The White Paper sets out twelve medium term missions, to serve as an anchor for levelling up policy. We call for a thirteenth mission – By 2030, every area in the UK will be delivering reductions to carbon emissions and restoring nature in line with the Committee on Climate Change’s carbon budgets.’

In related news, the Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has unveiled the government’s Levelling Up White Paper, setting out a decade-long project to regenerate Britain.

Photo by Thomas Richter


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