Local authorities in the UK should have a duty to develop and implement low-carbon plans as part of the country’s emissions reduction commitments, according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).
In a report published today by the influential government advisory body, the CCC says that local authorities have a crucial role in contributing to emissions reductions and have a significant influence over key sectors like residential and commercial buildings, transport and waste.
Currently, however, the lack of any requirement to set targets and reduce emissions or significant funding has led to a generally low level of ambition, says the report.
The Committee recommends that national funding to support low-carbon and emissions reduction programmes, such as energy efficiency drives, sustainable travel plans and renewable energy projects, is increased.
Local authorities should also lead by example, cutting emissions across their own estates and operations, as well as approving more planning applications for renewable energy.
“The research we’ve done shows local authorities have the potential to significantly impact on the UK’s scale and speed of emissions reductions,” says Committee member Julia King. “There is a wealth of good work being done already at local and regional levels but many opportunities remain untapped.”
If measures on building efficiency, sustainable transport and waste treatment, including energy-from-waste, could be undertaken, emissions could be reduced by 20% relative to 2010 levels by 2020.
Local authorities can also act as champions for renewable energy generation and develop decentralised energy plans relying more heavily on district heating schemes and small-scale low-carbon power plants.
For further information:
Revised UK planning rules promise greater simplicity with sustainability (28-Mar)
UK government gives £4 million boost to local energy schemes (16-Jan)
UK’s local authorities are opting out of climate change efforts, says research (20-Oct 2011)
Recession drives reduction in emissions across UK local councils (16-Sept 2011)
Article source: http://www.energyefficiencynews.com/i/5110/