There are 13 item(s) tagged with the keyword "climate change".
It is inarguable that the last decade in local government was tough financially. Every public policy initiative, every council budget was seemingly dominated by relentless austerity. That has not gone away. However, with climate emergency declarations by local councils now standing at 65% coverage across the UK it would appear that this, not austerity, is our zeitgeist for the next decade.
Declaring an emergency is only a statement of intent; a recognition that urgent action is needed. Some have found that their passionate pledges in the council chamber can give birth to a much starker reality. Action on climate change is devoid of quick fixes. As a first step councils need to establish what is within the scope of their declaration. Is this just about decarbonising councils’ services or is it broader? Looking at supply chains or sub-regional economies? And what pledges can be made about those areas where the council is not simply the sole-trader such as municipal airports or transport infrastructure which invokes national agencies? When we start to peel back the covers issues may seem insurmountable. But this is not the case if action is properly planned.
The country recently elected a new parliament to Westminster, so what will the public want to see at the top of ministerial in-trays?
It’s very timely that Survation has just completed APSE’s annual polling of public opinion on local government services. What it finds is that satisfaction with services is starting to drop and people are noticing a decline in their locality. They are also saying they want to see more of the tax that they pay given to councils to spend in their local area.
If the new Government want to demonstrate that the decade associated with austerity has passed then the public clearly want to see visible improvements across their neighbourhood services. This means investment across everything from public realm to affordable housing. Social care also remains important in public opinion but this is balanced against these wider priorities.
A consistent trend is that trust is continuously increasing in councils and councillors to get decisions correct about their local area and to deliver services directly to local people.
The prevailing issue that has exercised the minds of those in local government for the last decade has been dealing with the impact of austerity. Whilst rumours of its demise may be somewhat premature it is likely to be overtaken by something that may have an even more fundamentally profound impact on councils, dominating almost every decision they make over the next decade – that of climate change.
Whilst many councils are alert to this agenda, with dozens declaring climate change emergencies, particularly in response to high profile public protests by young people, it is easy to move the date you expect to be carbon neutral forwards by ten years or so, but unless you focus on deliverables then achieving such aspirations could prove to be difficult in practice. The clock is ticking. There is an urgent need to move beyond strategising and rhetoric to making significant progress.
Former speaker of the US House of Representatives, Tip O'Neill, is credited with the quote 'All politics is local' and I think that adage has never been more apt than at present.
Having spoken at and attended a number of packed fringes at all of the main party conferences recently I couldn't help but reflect on the fact that there is a reawakening by the political parties that many of the most pressing policy issues are best resolved at a local government level.
Following on from the launch of APSE Energy at Westminster in June, it was the Scottish launch event in Edinburgh today.
The theme was about distributed energy where local authorities can act as suppliers within local areas along with partners.
My recent article from Public Finance
The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) is calling on central government to unlock local authorities’ potential to develop the green economy.
APSE’s rallying cry came as it launched a new report The transition to the green economy: the vital role of the ensuring council, which shows what local authorities are achieving and highlights ways in which national policy could be changed to enable them to do more.
Took part in a Guardian online debate today on the impact that the cuts were having on the Green agenda in local government.
A point I made that sparked a bit of debate was about how you generate behavioural change amongst the public, the example I gave is pasted below:
Today has been one of those days where your diary catches up with you, it’s my third flight in 3 days and this one is delayed! I am supposed to be speaking at an energy expo at the Olympia in London with Steve Cirell but as it becomes apparent that I am going to miss the start we exchange slides by email.
At Labour party conference this week in Manchester and a strange atmosphere hangs over it. After 13 years of being the party of government there is obviously some disappointment and it’s strange to see former Ministers walking around on their own without the usual entourage of suits with clipboards surrounding them. However, with the election of a new leader there is also a mood of optimism amongst many delegates that the page has been turned on new labour and things have moved on.