Isaac Beevor, Co-Director, Climate Emergency UK, which works with councils to help tackle climate change, said that one of the ‘biggest barriers’ to local climate action is the “continued piecemeal, competitive and short-term funding pots that exist for council climate action”.
He said: “The UK Government missed a huge opportunity to provide worthwhile funding for council climate action in the Autumn Statement, with the absence of any funding for climate adaptation, leaving our local communities less prepared for the more extreme flooding and fires we are already facing.
“The government should place net-zero and adaptation at the heart of any future devolution deals, including the funding provided, and provide long term funding for all local authorities to meet their net-zero targets.”
Beevor added that councils could still act, such as releasing Climate Bonds and raising money from new development through section 106 agreements. New income streams could also come from the expansion of residential parking permits that are ring fenced for climate action, they added.
“Councils have an increasing statutory duty to deliver environmental improvements such as Local Nature Recovery, but with decreased budgets and [inflating] costs.”
Jo Pettifer, a climate action advisor for Let’s Go Zero, a national campaign aiming to help schools tackle climate change, said that the funding and resource deficits facing local authority-maintained schools and academies are forcing leaders to make impossible decisions. This included choosing between adult social care and young people’s mental health or mitigating the impact of climate change.
Pettifer said: “Councils have an increasing statutory duty to deliver environmental improvements such as Local Nature Recovery, but with decreased budgets and inflating service delivery costs.”
Graham Stuart, Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero said that he recognised the “important and tireless efforts undertaken by local councils”.
He said there had been an increase in “core spending power of £3.1billion of taxpayer subsidy to councils in England, before local decisions about council tax changes are made.”
Stuart added that to help increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the current funding system, the government has published plans to simplify the funding landscape for local authorities.