In this latest research, between APSE and NPI, we recognised that whilst a large number of APSE member councils have declared a climate emergency, there are relatively few who have translated these declarations into action plans. This research therefore explores the differences in declarations which are all distinctive but share an aim to reduce greenhouse gases, most especially carbon from man-made emissions.
This report endeavours to assist councils navigate their way through the transition of turning a climate emergency declaration into a plan for action. Drawing upon the scientific evidence presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is the starting point for most climate emergency declarations. It draws heavily upon the near-term actions presented by the UK Committee on Climate Change in 2019. Many of the suggested actions relate directly to those matters which local authorities can advance. The report also explores case study councils, some of whom we may regard as ‘early starters’ on actioning change to reduce their emissions and indeed engage in wider area initiatives. There are many others emerging with innovative action plans and revised plans as local developments allow.
Our main findings from this report are: -
• Informed by scientific evidence, the contribution of local reductions in emissions can be significant, and should be actioned as soon as possible.
• A cut today is better than the same cut tomorrow and is worth as much as a large cut later. The priority should be to begin cutting emissions as soon as possible, rather than worrying about how to eliminate them altogether.
• Councils ‘own operations’ are a good starting point. Progress is being made in reducing the emissions from buildings and assets, preparing residents for a move away from fossil fuel heating systems; in environmental matters from waste and resources to public realm services; in planting trees and land management strategies; and in EV infrastructure and fleet, including hydrogen developments.
• By adopting a local leadership role, and taking urgent action on climate change councils are able to demonstrate to residents some more immediate local benefits, including fuel poverty through greener, cheaper energy, improvements to air quality and public realm.