Powershift: local authority powers for climate action

The Powershift report for UK100 examines the powers local authorities have to tackle climate change in England. We carried out interviews with local authorities and stakeholders coupled with extensive research into the duties, powers and policies that relate to climate action.

This confirmed that the current situation is not effective or efficient to drive local action towards achieving Net Zero. At a time when funding is tight, capacity is limited and pressure from local people to act is high, we need to press the re-set button.

Currently, ambition and willingness aren’t matched by capacity because of the barriers preventing action . These include:

  • National policy mechanisms actively working against local authorities making effective use of their potential to cut emissions 
  • Government not providing the investment required 
  • Lack of clarity over the role of local authorities from Westminster 
  • A lack of capacity with job cuts to key areas of sustainability  
  • A shortage of  funding made worse by the demands of covid at a local level
  • Old ways of doing things which don’t consider the the need to decarbonise

The report urges government to take the following steps including:

  • Retain the urgency from the pandemic to build a green recovery 
  • Change national rules and regulations to enable local councils to do more on climate
  • Create a framework for delivery of climate targets with local flexibility
  • Investment in green jobs and schemes at scale, and in delivery at the local level
  • A consistent message from across government prioritising Net Zero
  • Better or more appropriate powers for councils on housing, planning, and transport and more capacity to implement them.

Our current project for UK100 is to develop a framework for net zero delivery locally, and we’ll be sharing those findings in July.