'We can do better than central govt' on emissions, local leaders say

Local and regional leaders representing around a third of the population of England and Scotland have committed to going ‘further and faster’ than central government to eliminate net carbon emissions.

The ‘UK100 Net Zero pledge’ from 38 leaders of different political parties representing 20.4 million people argues local areas can remove net carbon emissions in their communities by 2045 - five years earlier than central government's plan.

The pledge has been co-ordinated by the NGO UK100 and launches a year of activities ahead of next November’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

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The group said it will work together over the coming year to push for more funding and powers from central government.

The pledge states: ‘We will do everything within our power and influence to rapidly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We will bring our council emissions to net zero by 2030 and we will work with our residents and businesses to bring our wider communities’ emissions in line with net zero as soon as possible (and by 2045 at the latest).

‘We will continue to lead the UK’s response to net zero, going ahead of the government goal and taking the first steps with urgency. We will make substantial progress within the next decade to deliver net zero. With greater powers, we would go further, faster.’

Polly Billington, director of UK100, said: ‘These ambitious local leaders have pledged to do everything within their power to reach Net Zero emissions as soon as possible in a way that benefits their communities with new jobs and skills. From Edinburgh to Cornwall, local leadership, alongside funding and powers is key to winning the race to net zero.’

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said: ‘The UK100 Net Zero pledge helps cities to share learning rapidly with other local authorities and work with national government on effective solutions to contribute to the UK’s net zero target.

'We will only succeed working together with our citizens, businesses and other institutions and collaboration is essential for that success.’

The authorities include all tiers of local government, all regions in England, and Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland. Five city region mayors have also committed to the pledge.

The leaders have agreed to limit the use of offsets, using them only as a last resort when reducing emissions to net zero at source is not possible, and said they will aim for their offsets to be ‘as local as possible’.

They have also committed to annual reporting of their progress, from 2022 onwards.

Despite a series of recent high-profile announcements on climate change from the prime minister, campaigners have said the Government’s transport policies are likely to lead to increased carbon emissions.

It has been revealed that the construction and use of the Lower Thames Crossing will add five million tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere while ministers were also criticised for cutting funding for rail enhancements by £1bn.

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