Our offer to government

Councils want to work as essential partners with government to tackle climate change.

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Councils are fundamental to transitioning our places and empowering our communities and businesses to a net zero future. They are well placed to translate national climate ambitions into action on the ground through the following ways:

Placeshaping

Places are intrinsically local and councils are the master planners.

Local planning authorities not only deliver quality homes but shape environments that are sustainable and ensure people have access to the right infrastructure, transport, connectivity and services.

This can support government by:
  • Ensuring a just transition to net zero through their unique knowledge of place and people
  • Embedding carbon reduction measures in the housing and building sector
  • Improving air quality
  • Transforming transport networks to low carbon and active modes
  • Delivering on the energy transition in large-scale renewable energy and low carbon heat sources
2%

Councils’ own direct emissions account for approximately 2% of total emissions and they can influence up to 70% of emissions in their local places

Purchasing powers and market shaping

Procurement is a key power that councils have to deliver net zero.

Councils are already fostering innovation in procurement and increasingly harnessing commercial opportunities to attract private investment.

Through commissioning, councils bring together public, private and voluntary partners that shapes the market to best meet the needs of communities.

This can support government by:
  • Mobilising private investment into net zero delivery
  • Building capacity in the market for low carbon goods and services through public-private partnerships
  • Develop and mature local skills and supply chains, particularly for small providers and the voluntary sector
£68bn

Local government third party spend in 2019/20 was at least £63 billion

Problem solving and direct delivery

Every place is unique. Different localities have different geographies, demographics, infrastructure and resources.

For centuries, councils have demonstrated an ability to capitalise on local assets and opportunities to deliver local solutions to local challenges.

This can support government by:
  • Providing a repository of local knowledge and understanding to work out how to deliver net zero solutions on the ground
  • Offering pilots for innovative projects that can de-risk, develop new business models, and test new technologies
  • Drive wider roll out and scaling up of low carbon solutions
    71%

    Polling in February 2021 found 71% of respondents most trusted their local councils compared to 18% that most trusted government when it came to local decision making

    Assets

    Councils are landlords and significant asset-owners.

    Many councils have their own building stock, whether that’s council-owned housing or commercial and institutional buildings such as retail units, schools and leisure centres. They are also considerable landowners in the UK.

    This can support government by:
    • Providing existing pipelines of infrastructure for shovel-ready carbon reduction projects in buildings
    • Being early adopters to test new technologies for scaling up
    • Developing low carbon skills, markets and supply chains
    27,000

    Councils are responsible for an estimated 27,000 parks and green spaces

    Convenors and communicators

    Councils are convenors and communicators for businesses and civil society.

    Their responsibilities as frontline service providers and strategic place makers mean that councils have a longstanding ability to collaborate and build cohesion with local partners and residents, including those most vulnerable.

    Community capacity and cohesion issues will arise in the transition to net zero and it is only at the local level that these can be addressed.

    This can support government by:
    • Empowering communities and particularly vulnerable groups to mitigate and adapt to climate change
    • Translating national climate messages locally and reaching hard-to-reach groups
    • Building public consent for disruptive change in the transition to net zero
    • Empowering people and businesses to change their behaviour
    62%

    As much as 62% of the future reduction in emissions will rely on individual choices and behaviours