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Local MPs face ‘Kafkaesque’ barriers to climate goals

With the political fate of thousands of constituencies hanging in the balance, a new report calls for more autonomy to help councils achieve net zero. 

Millions of Britons are casting their votes today in local elections, but an analysis published this week has painted a damning picture of ‘theoretical rather than actual’ powers, with Downing Street failing to empower councils to make real progress on climate goals. 

UK100’s Powers In Place: The Handbook of Local Authority Net Zero Powers has the backing of Chris Skidmore MP, whose own investigation into the UK Government’s commitment to environmental issues identified major shortcomings. The report has called for a new Net Zero Local Powers Bill and Net Zero Delivery Framework, in order to make it easier for politicians to start delivering workable solutions to their constituents. 

Among the major obstacles described as ‘Kafkaesque’ were counterintuitive planning on housing and onshore wind, business case rules prioritising traffic over air quality and decarbonisation. The rapid increase of misinformation — which many believe is set to exponentially increase in the wake of AI technology — was also cited as a serious problem, something Environment Journal recently published its own investigation of. According to the analysis, by removing these barriers and empowering local authorities properly, £137bn of savings on investments could be made when compared with the cost of a top-down national approach. 

‘Local-led action is the fastest, most cost-effective route to Net Zero. Councils can influence over 82% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and have direct relationships with the communities, residents, and businesses who will be affected by the transitions,; said Christopher Hammond, Membership & Insights Director at UK100.’ 

More on local government and climate:

New report highlights effective council climate action

How climate disinformation sows distrust in Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

Image: Alistair Veryard

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