Climate-related incidents affecting eight in ten councils - LGA research

The LGA's latest research on the effects of climate change on local authorities shows that eight in ten councils have suffered climate-related incidents in the last five years - including over 23,000 properties in England being affected by flooding during this period


Overhead shot of climate and pollution in the air

Eight in ten councils surveyed by the Local Government Association have been affected by a climate-related incident in the last five years – with just over 23,000 properties in England affected by flooding in the last five years.

The LGA said councils have been working hard to develop policy and action to tackle climate change since the Government laid plans in June 2019 to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Climate Change Survey 2020 assesses what actions councils have already taken to mitigate and/or adapt to climate change. It also asks what policy changes would enable them to do this more effectively in the future.

The survey found that nine out of 10 councils had since declared a climate emergency, around 80 per cent had set an official target for the authority to become carbon neutral.

The most frequently identified barrier to tackling climate change was funding (96 per cent), followed by legislation or regulation (93 per cent) and lack of workforce capacity (88 per cent). 

Cllr David Renard, LGA environment spokesperson, said:
 
“Councils recognise the urgent need to tackle climate change and are making active changes to benefit the environment. This includes tackling harmful air pollution by devising clean air zones, encouraging the use of electric vehicles through promoting recharging points, and installing energy saving measures across council’s own building stock.

“However, national climate change targets are unlikely to be met unless councils are given long-term funding, devolved powers and easier access to complex government funding pots.

“Now is a crucial time for local authorities to be able to act and work hard to tackle climate change. Drawing up and implementing new policy, hiring and training specialist staff and communicating this messaging to residents all come at a cost at a time when council finances are already stretched. 

“We want to work with the Government and business to establish a national fiscal and policy framework for addressing the climate emergency, supported with long term funding.”
 
The survey was conducted by the LGA in February 2020 and closed in October 2020. The full responses can be found in the survey, Climate Change Survey 2020.