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UK Councils Need More Resources to Start Delivering on Net-Zero

UK Councils Need more Resources to Start Delivering on Net-Zero
18 May 2022
 

50 UK-wide council representatives were interviewed about their net-zero strategies, and the results indicate a feeling that significantly more support and resources are needed.

Councils were asked about their current net-zero journeys, the most important factors, challenges they faced, their understanding of their own council’s carbon footprint and offsetting proportions. 

The research, conducted by property advisers Cluttons and sustainability consultants AESG, found that 58 per cent of council respondents were still in the initial stages of their net-zero strategies.

11 per cent had not yet started their journey. Just over a quarter were in the “delivery” phase of their strategy to date. 

Over two-thirds of respondents (71 per cent) said financing was their greatest challenge to getting started on their net-zero journey.

When it came to the main drivers for councils setting their net-zero strategies, most cited the financial savings that came from achieving carbon reductions and the environmental benefits that it would bring to the local area.

 

"Despite net-zero targets rapidly approaching, the majority of local councils are still unaware as to how they will be expected to meet these, questioning whether these targets and declaration of climate emergencies were made as they were seen as achievable goals or in response to public pressure and statutory obligations."

–Niall Keighron

Sustainability Practitioner, Cluttons

 

Lack of Understanding of Current Carbon Footprint and Offsetting

 

The research seems to indicate a potential skills shortage when it comes to understanding not only net-zero roadmaps but carbon footprints themselves.

24 per cent of councils and government representatives had a ‘clear’ or ‘comprehensive’ understanding of their current carbon footprint, with 37 per cent stating they did not understand their carbon footprint.

68 per cent did not know if their strategy included offsetting.

 

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Overambitious Commitments?

 

Another issue highlighted by the research is a lack of understanding of how ambitious net-zero targets will be achieved.

Overall, the findings from the survey suggest that despite over 75 per cent of local authorities in the UK now declaring a climate emergency, very few have a clear understanding of how their targets will be achieved.

Cluttons and AESG suggest that this may be due to making ambitious commitments in response to public pressure, rather than a sincere belief that net-zero targets will be met.

Niall Keighron, Sustainability Practitioner at Cluttons, commented: “These results highlight the challenges that most councils are currently facing. Despite net-zero targets rapidly approaching, the majority of local councils are still unaware as to how they will be expected to meet these, questioning whether these targets and declaration of climate emergencies were made as they were seen as achievable goals or in response to public pressure and statutory obligations.

“Again, this is where the private sector can help bridge the gap between what’s expected and what is practical and engage councils and communities accordingly.” 

Picture: a photograph of several post-it notes pinned to a notice board Image Credit: Unsplash

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 18 May 2022

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