Friday, September 25, 2009

More action on climate change from councils - give them power and responsibility

Very happy to support this Friends of the Earth campaign to get the Government to give councils the power and responsibility to do more about climate change. I sent off their suggested email to John Denham MP, the current Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.


The UK is committed to achieving CO2 emissions reductions of 34% by 2020. To do so will require radical action by local authorities in their areas.

I support the Government's view that local authorities should have a greater role in tackling climate change.

But I believe that this greater role means that all local authorities should have more responsibility for tackling climate change in their area. At the moment, only a few local authorities are taking real action, and most local authorities are doing very little.

The Government must set the bottom line for councils. There must be a mechanism ensuring a minimum standard of action on climate change for every local authority - so each has short term targets, or local carbon budgets, to reduce the emissions in its area in line with the latest science.

Each council should produce a plan of how to make the emissions cuts, and they should not be achieved through offsetting - either trading between councils and businesses, or buying international carbon credits.

Not acting can no longer be an option for any council if we are to meet the UK's climate targets and avoid dangerous climate change.

Local authorities need more support from national government as well. I support the following proposals:

- A requirement for all local authorities to prepare a plan setting out how they will reduce the carbon emissions in their local area (in line with the Climate Change Act targets and carbon budgets)

- A new regional technical advice body on Climate Change to help provide the information-base for action on climate change at local level.

- Giving councils the flexibilty to use innovative mechanisms for positive climate solutions.

- A strong role for local authorities in coordinating funding streams e.g. more jurisdiction in working with energy suppliers, and for energy suppliers to supply data to local authorities on energy use.

- More community engagement in developing local climate solutions The best councils moving ahead isn't enough. We don't have time for partial measures. According to the IPCC, world emissions have to peak by 2015 to give any chance of avoiding a 2 degree temperature rise. All the latest science suggests even this may be too optimistic.

This is a shared responsibility. All local authorities need to act, not just the minority that are currently seriously prioritising the issue.

Today is Earth Overshoot Day 09 (ecological debt for the rest of the year)

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News from the Global Footprinting Network that today is Earth Overshoot Day '09. This means that 'Just like any country, company, or household, nature has a budget – it can only produce so much resources and absorb so much waste each year. The problem is, our demand on nature exceeds its capacity to generate resources and absorb CO2,a condition known as ecological overshoot. We now use a year’s worth of capacity in less than 10 months. Our calculations show that if we continue with business as usual, according to moderate U.N. projections, in less than 25 years humanity will require the regenerative capacity of two planets– a level of demand that is likely to be physically impossible to meet.'