LGA at COP26

We were pleased to lead local government’s presence at COP26 – the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference – held in Glasgow from 31 October to 13 November 2021.

The LGA was active at COP26 in both the public-facing 'Green Zone'; and in the 'Blue Zone', where the formal negotiations took place. Throughout the conference, we took every opportunity to deliver our key message – that councils have a unique and powerful role in tackling climate change, and are best placed to turn national climate ambitions into joint action on the ground.

We are delighted that our Net Zero Innovation Programme received a 'Highly Commended' award in the final of the Climate Challenge Cup – a new international competition celebrating innovative local solutions to global climate issues.

Together with our partners, the LGA hosted the following activities and events on the following themed days at the conference:

10 November | Transport

This day was dedicated to driving the global transition to zero emission transport.

11 November | Cities, regions and built environment

This day was dedicated to advancing climate action in the places we live, from communities, through to cities and regions.

Our exhibition stand in the Green Zone (hosted in partnership with Northern Ireland LGA) showcased the vital work that councils are doing to address the climate emergency.

Photo gallery of councils taking climate action

The LGA had previously called for one day at COP26 to be dedicated to local and regional government; and these calls were heeded with 11 November being dedicated to the theme of Cities, regions and built environment. You can find out more about the UK Presidency Programme, and the themes covered on each day of COP26, on the UK's COP26 website.

What we called for at COP26

Climate change requires urgent and significant international, national, local and sector leadership.

But only local government leadership can mobilise and join up the collective action in the real-world cities, towns, and rural areas that people live.

And only local government holds the wide range of important delivery powers and assets to decarbonise transport, buildings, waste, energy, nature, growth and more.

Your local council is standing up, declaring a climate emergency, and bringing in public and partner backing for taking local action that delivers on legal obligations to achieve net zero.

Yet, until now, our unique and powerful influence has been underutilised. Gaps in powers, policy, capacity, and funding hold us back. Lacking cooperation leaves us uncertain.

Collaborative delivery with local government needs a framework, financing, flexibility, and facilitation

UK Climate Change Committee, 2020

Worldwide, our communities need a dedicated chapter for subnational and local government in the official agreement reached at COP26.

And at home, local government needs hard wiring into the UK’s Nationally Determined Contribution: “working with local government” must feature in section 4a(i), paragraphs 1, 2 and 23.

From this should come an ambitious programme to achieve emissions reductions in local places, by achieving the right balance of responsibilities, powers and resources at the right level.

We will focus on local government’s powers to:

  • decarbonise and adapt homes, buildings and the built environment
  • decarbonise and adapt transport within and across places
  • protect, adapt and grow the natural environment.

And:

  • attract private finance through public leadership, investment, and commitment
  • equip local labour markets with skills to deliver for green investment
  • bring consensus for change within the public and community.

Local authorities are a cornerstone of climate change partnerships across the country that link key delivery organisations to deliver Net Zero

UK Climate Change Committee, 2020

The efforts at COP26 will only succeed if they are made real in the places that people feel belonging to, where they live their lives and businesses do business.

Only local government can bring this together. COP25 in Madrid failed to recognise this, but it can be rectified at COP26.

Our sector support programme on Climate Change

Our Climate Change sector support programme helps councils and residents to reach their local carbon reduction and adaptation targets. You can find a range of resources on our Climate Change Hub – including publications, toolkits, leadership programmes, podcasts, events and good practice. This forms part of our sector support offer which is available to councils and funded by the UK Government.