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Parliamentary update – September 2020 | Sophie Lethier

Parliamentary update – September 2020 | Sophie Lethier

In our Parliamentary Officer Sophie Lethier’s new monthly update, she gives the inside track on Westminster. This month she gives an update on the APPG on Sustainable Finance, for which UK100 is the secretariat, including how it will examine the link between pensions and climate change, the Green Shares Bill, and climate-related legislation working its way through parliament.

The APPG on Sustainable Finance, led by UK100, has had an extremely successful first few months since its launch in spring 2020. It was established to support MPs to better understand how the finance sector can contribute to the government’s target of Net Zero emissions by 2050. The APPG hosts regular meetings and events, including quarterly, party-specific parliamentary briefings. We held the first of these in June with Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas, Chief Executive of the Green Finance Institute, and Polly Billington on the role of public finance in the ‘green recovery’ to the Covid-19 crisis. They recommended the establishment of a Net Zero development bank.

We’re now looking forward to hosting our next briefing for MPs in October which will examine the link between pensions and climate change. You can read the House of Commons Library’s research briefing on the Pensions Schemes Bill 2019-21, which will have its second reading in the Commons on Wednesday 7 October. 

This bill started in the House of Lords earlier this year. Peers agreed a series of government amendments empowering the Department for Work and Pensions to issue new regulations, requiring pension schemes to disclose their exposure to climate change and their strategy to address it. While these amendments altered the bill to better enable pension schemes to address the financial risks of climate change, more work is needed to ensure schemes are aligned with the interests of savers. We hope to see APPG members call for strong measures in the Commons.

Labour MP for Cardiff North and Shadow International Development Minister Anna McMorrin’s proposed private member’s bill, the Green Shares Bill, has now been withdrawn following a lack of government support. The bill aimed to enable cooperatives to raise funds for green projects. In response to the proposed bill, Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen MP said that the cooperatives were not supervised by the Financial Conduct Authority and therefore investors lacked scrutiny and protection.

We are still expecting the Energy White Paper to be published in the autumn, as well as the Treasury’s Net Zero Review, and the return of the Commons committee stage of the Environment Bill. It has been announced that the public committee for the Environment Bill will report back on 1 December. This will leave little time for it to pass through the House prior to the end of the transition period.

Sophie Lethier, UK100 Parliamentary Officer

Political analysis – September 2020 | Jason Torrance

Political analysis – September 2020 | Jason Torrance

UK100 Policy Director Jason Torrance kicks off his new monthly political analysis by laying out the three big challenges ahead for local leaders.

Local authorities are up against it in these unprecedented times. Having to contend with six months of pandemic-induced health and financial hardships while continuing to take forward ambitious action on climate and clean air, has been, to the say the least, extremely challenging.

Adding to the challenge has been the fact that the UK government’s policy and legislative agenda outside of Covid-19 has been largely suspended. However, three big challenges lay ahead if local leaders are to play their part in tackling the threat of climate and putting local economies on a path to a flourishing net zero economy. 

Firstly, the UK government needs to provide adequate long-term investment, ambitious national frameworks and the necessary powers to accelerate local change. With the recent postponement of the chancellor’s upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) – there’s little clarity about what the future holds. When he sets out the next CSR it will set the direction for much local and private investment over the next four years, and either enable or disable local action on climate.

A CSR that sets the direction towards a clean, green future is surely the path down which the UK can reclaim some pride on the world stage at COP26 next year. To this end, an unprecedented mix of 24 mayors and local leaders have joined forces in our Resilient Recovery Taskforce to urge the chancellor to unlock £100bn of green investment. 

Secondly, local leaders need to be part of a long-term UK government plan that builds activity around achieving Net Zero. We have ahead of us what promises to be a huge year for UK politics that will make or break efforts for local leaders to take ambitious action to tackle climate change.

Legislation like the Environment Bill, anticipated government policy such as the recovery and devolution white paper, the results from the biggest local elections ever in May, and hosting COP26 in November 2021, will all have crucial roles in creating focus or in causing confusion.  

Lastly, it’s crucial that local leaders are able to continue to represent the needs of the communities they serve. While the lockdowns required to contain the spread of Covid-19 have opened eyes to the benefits of cleaner air and quieter streets, overwhelming support for measures to protect health by tackling air pollution emissions from cars has remained high.

With more than 280 local authorities having declared a climate emergency and many local citizens’ assemblies underway, the role of the public in political decision making on issues that affect our environment has never been more widespread. At a national level Climate Assembly UK, the UK’s first national citizens’ assembly on climate change, has been an exemplar of how citizens from across the country can come together, debate the huge issues facing us and develop well thought out solutions. 

Back in February, UK100 was called on to give evidence to this vital initiative. Our Director Polly, spoke about local energy systems and I spoke about inequality in relation to transport.

Despite what this country has been through since March, it is a time of immense possibility. As the Committee on Climate Change said in its recent progress report, “we must seize the opportunity to make the COVID-19 recovery a defining moment in tackling the climate crisis. We say to the Government: ‘act courageously – it’s there for the taking’.” 

Jason Torrance, UK100 Policy Director

How Oxford is going beyond legal targets to clean up its air

How Oxford is going beyond legal targets to clean up its air

For Clean Air Day Oxford City Council’s Deputy Leader and Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford Cabinet Member, Cllr Tom Hayes, talks about how the city is ‘taking matters into its own hands’ and going beyond legal targets.

The change in season reminds me of an old joke about Christmas starting earlier every year. Well, this year Clean Air Day is the opposite of Christmas, taking place later than usual because of the need to respond to a global pandemic—a pandemic which itself reinforces the need to mark Clean Air Day and redouble effective action. Research increasingly shows that dirty air significantly increases coronavirus infections.

This year Oxford City Council is hoping for a great Christmas present. We have  just set our draft Air Quality Action Plan to go significantly further than the government’s legal target for air pollution, and the council is hopeful that our city agrees to this approach in a consultation now underway.

We believe we will become the first UK local authority to set out a city-wide air pollution reduction target within our draft Air Quality Action Plan—the action plan seeks to go further than the legal annual mean limit value for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) of 40 µg/m3, with a new local annual mean NO2 target of 30 µg/m3 by 2025.

This action plan moves Oxford beyond the focus on local compliance by volunteering to set a target stricter than the legal target. Our target of 30 by ‘25 is based on evidence, including an analysis of our historic air quality monitoring data from 2002 – 2018, air quality modelling projections and studies, and the expected impact of the measures proposed in our action plan. 

Oxford City Council has been calling on the government to meet its legal responsibilities by highlighting the reasons for air pollution but also proposing solutions with Oxford’s Charter for Cleaner Air—the first formal cooperation of its kind between a local authority, Greenpeace UK and Friends of the Earth. However, with this new Air Quality Action Plan, we are taking matters into our own hands by setting a tighter target and taking forward our zero emissions policies. 

Our plan builds on a record of delivery. Oxford has achieved an average reduction of 26% in NO2, 31% in particulate matter (PM10) and 36% in particulate matter (PM2.5) at the sites where monitoring has been in place since 2013. Over the past decade NO2 levels in Oxford have decreased by 29% mainly due to the introduction of a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) for buses in 2014 and a £2.3m investment in the retrofitting of several buses to cleaner Euro VI engines and introduction of electric buses into the city.

However, we must move further and faster to cleaner air. Transport continues to be by far the largest contributor (68%) to total NO2 emissions in the city (as well as contributing to 17% of Oxford City’s carbon emissions). With fossil fuel cars contributing to 33% of NOx emissions and buses to 32% of emissions, our city council is working closely with partners to prioritise action to address transport.

Our main priorities are focused on the delivery of our Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) to restrict polluting vehicles into the city centre and our congestion-busting Connecting Oxford to reduce the dominance of cars on our roads through bus gates, a workplace parking levy, and new subsidised bus routes. We are also proposing new measures including work with schools to raise awareness of air pollution and active travel, introducing a Euro VI LEZ for buses, expanding Oxford City Council’s EV fleet, and delivering a £41m Energy Superhub Oxford. 

Our target is stretching, but achievable by 2025 only with the introduction of transport schemes such as Connecting Oxford and an accelerated ZEZ. Harmful levels of air pollution are shortening lives, hurting health, and undermining our quality of life. The people whose lives will be disproportionately affected by air pollution are the more vulnerable members of our communities.

The founding document of our modern social security state made suggestions aimed at eradicating the five “giant evils”. One such evil was “disease”, yet today air pollution blights our neighbourhoods, as it did when Clement Attlee’s government enacted the recommendations of William Beveridge. In the 75th anniversary year of the election of the 1945 government, elected figures will be compelled by the injustice of air pollution to clean up our dirty air.

Cllr Tom Hayes, Oxford City Council Deputy Leader and Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford Cabinet Member

Find out more about Oxford City Council’s draft Air Quality Action Plan.

Why adopting WHO standards could be an unmissable opportunity for the government

Why adopting WHO standards could be an unmissable opportunity for the government

Ahead of Clean Air Day on 8 October, UK100’s Jonny Wilkinson spoke with Councillor Adam Harrison, the Labour ward councillor for Bloomsbury and Cabinet Member for a Sustainable Camden, about the council’s air quality ambitions.

Cleaning up Camden’s air was a lively issue in the borough when Councillor Adam Harrison took up the brief in November 2017. Residents and community groups were keen to help the council do something about it while asking it to take action.

Getting up to speed on the issue, the Camden cabinet member was alarmed to learn the pollutant fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is damaging to health at any level – there is no safe limit for it in our air.

Hearing this helped to convince him that adopting the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s stringent air quality standards – stricter than the EU’s – was the only way to go for Camden. 

And he believes that if the government were to follow Camden’s lead, it would be an unmissable opportunity to demonstrate serious leadership.

With a King’s College London study finding that Camden’s plans for cleaner air were achievable, the borough is now aiming to achieve WHO standards by 2030.

Councillor Harrison said: “The government says they want to be more ambitious than the EU and take up the purported freedoms that Brexit brings. So they should put their money where their mouth is and establish something more ambitious than the EU.

“It’s a no-brainer, given that we want to be doing all we can to keep people healthy and for them not to suffer the many conditions air pollution worsens or creates. 

“The way we have to live – travel and the houses and buildings we live and work in – all has to change. There’s lots of opportunity for investment in retrofit and new infrastructure, and it’s great for our health.

“This all fits together in a way that should appeal across political parties. That’s why I think if the government adopted WHO standards it would be something quite symbolic and, with the weight of law behind it, would be an important part of solving the puzzle of how we cut air pollution.

“The whole process of Camden adopting WHO standards and the King’s College London study that we commissioned to map our path to those standards, has meant that there’s a lot of organisational focus inside the council on implementing the plan.”

Camden Council says that many measures that could improve air quality in the borough are outside its control, like limiting the use of wood burners and fireplaces. As much as 38% of UK primary PM emissions come from burning wood and coal in domestic open fires and solid fuel stoves [source: Camden Clean Air Action Plan].

Part of Camden’s Clean Air Action Plan 2019-2022 is to use its influence to lobby those with responsibility for these measures to implement policies that reduce pollution levels.

Councillor Harrison said: “I think that is something we’ll need to have a big conversation about. It seems like there isn’t even yet a public understanding that burning wood is bad for you and bad for air pollution because at the moment it’s extremely popular.”

For other councils looking at their air quality strategies, the Labour councillor recommends getting into the details of where their air pollution comes from, who’s responsible for it, and then trying to bring people together.

He said: “We can’t do it all on our own and we shouldn’t try to because we’re not the sole creators of air pollution by any stretch. It needs to be a joint effort.

“Ultimately it’s about showing what you’re trying to achieve: cleaner air, healthier travel, more equal streets, quieter streets. You need to paint a picture of what streets could look like.

“People often treat streets in public places as if they’re immutable, which is odd because they’re so dynamic. Streets change all the time. So when you try and change the street, it can be very controversial.

“But equally once you do change a street, if you’ve done it for the right reasons, people often like it and get used to it quite quickly.”

Jonny Wilkinson, UK100 Senior Communications Officer

Click here to find out more about Camden’s air quality ambitions.

Why cities and city regions need a resilient recovery

Why cities and city regions need a resilient recovery

As we publish our Resilient Recovery Declaration and research on the retrofit army needed to reach Net Zero, Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees talks about the need to build resilience into our cities. 

The last decade has seen extreme weather events causing disruption to our economy and loss of life. Last year saw four UK records broken – the highest recorded temperature of 38.7C, the warmest ever winter’s day, the highest December temperature and the mildest February night. We now face dealing with climate related events taking place at the same time as managing the ongoing pandemic. I am writing this at the end of a summer which has seen heatwaves, flooding and continuing outbreaks of Covid-19 across the UK. As we rebuild and reconceptualise our cities and their economies, we need reliable and dependable support from government for the green infrastructure which will help us meet these interlinked challenges.

Local leaders and mayors are used to dealing with and resolving multiple, interdependent challenges balancing prevention and crisis. This has been the case with the response to the generation defining issue of Covid-19, and the pressure it puts on our systems and services. We have been on the frontline of the response to the pandemic, working with public health professionals, business and community sector to shield and heal. We’ve demonstrated our role in responding quickly to the crisis through our strong communities and networks. Operating in the complex urban environment, we see up close and personal the consequences of decisions and policies.  

But we’ve also needed to protect the space needed to think not just about survival, but about the recovery and reinvention of our cities and towns. To plan and build the centres we need for an economy that has changed considerably. Changing the systems so that they are more resilient and behave in a way that doesn’t contribute to the likelihood of shocks. In Core Cities UK and the other city networks that Bristol is part of, clear demands and plans of action are forming.

We want more from the government’s economic planning so that in recovering from the primary risk in the National Risk Register – a pandemic – we also need a commitment to tackle the three climate related risks of the other top five at the same time. It is short-sighted not to, but will also bringing billions of pounds into the economy, harvesting the benefits of low carbon and making resilient places attractive to inward investment. 

A key aspect of infrastructure for future cities to resolve is the delivery of low carbon heat to its residents and businesses, which represents 45% of final UK energy demand. In Bristol we have been installing new heat networks for several years, with a particular focus on the city centre. Bristol’s heat network currently supplies over 1000 properties with low-carbon heat from a variety of sources across the city and continues to expand to new areas across the city. Heat networks can be integrated into wider city urban growth and regeneration plans, helping to address fuel poverty and environmental issues such as air quality.

Across the Core Cities network, we are playing our part to build climate-resilient cities. Each city’s approach is unique, but there are consistent threads running throughout:

  • building an evidence base to understand the risks of climate change
  • a leadership role in setting out the future path for a city, working with local and national partners
  • thematic work tackling specific climate-related risks such as flood risk management or urban heat risks
  • cross-cutting work addressing common aims like protecting vulnerable people, using nature to tackle climate threats or retrofitting buildings

 The UK100 Resilient Recovery Taskforce was established by a group of 24 mayors and local leaders, representing 24 million people across the country. We are calling on the government to commit to a ‘New Deal for Green Skills and Growth’, alongside a major push on infrastructure investment, public transport and retrofitting homes.

We know that cities, and their economies, must become more sustainable and inclusive.

Now is the time for government to lend backing and offer real partnership and investment to support what cities are already doing in response to Covid-19. By front loading the investment in the green infrastructure cities and towns across the country already have lined up, we can secure billions of pounds of investment in quality jobs and invaluable confidence to local partners and their supply chains.

This is what will help us deliver the vital green infrastructure we need to meet carbon neutrality targets and rebuild the economy in a way that avoids future climate shocks and includes people to give them hope and social justice.

Resilient Recovery Declaration

Resilient Recovery Declaration

Declaration of action from local leaders and mayors to the UK government Spending Review consultation for a resilient recovery enabling ambitious local action towards Net Zero

23rd September 2020

The need for an economic recovery package that creates resilience in our communities and reduces carbon emissions has never been greater. The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the fragility of our economic structures, their exposure to external shocks and the need to support people in our poorest communities. We must seize the opportunity to create healthier, safer, greener and more prosperous communities, building in resilience to climate change through investing in the green economy. Such an approach will enable us to reskill our workforce, enable job creation, create cleaner, healthier, safer places to work and live, and restore the nature upon which we all rely.

As elected leaders of our communities, we are playing an essential role in tackling the current Covid-19 crisis, and we are fulfilling our role in building a resilient recovery from it. Our knowledge and understanding of our communities means that we are well placed to design and deliver solutions that improve health, prosperity and the environment. Adequate UK government investment, ambitious national frameworks and the necessary powers to accelerate local change, would enhance our ability to act in partnership to tackle the threat of climate and to reskill our workforces to set them on a path to a flourishing Net Zero economy.

Together, we can renew our communities by working in partnership with government if action is taken forward across government to:

●     Increase local Net Zero investment by establishing a Net Zero Development Bank to bring together appropriate UK government financing for the transition to Net Zero. The bank should have both an obligation and the capacity to work with Local Energy Hubs and support local authorities to develop place-based Net Zero projects and programmes, leveraging additional private investment to kickstart local energy schemes which are at too early a stage to be attractive to private finance.

●   Invest in renewing the electricity grid to ensure a smart decentralised energy system, enabled by a national framework for local area energy planning. The Core mandate of Ofgem and of devolved nation energy regulators should be expanded to include supporting the delivery of Net Zero emissions, and we support the regulation of future investment in Distribution Network Operators so that a greater role can be given to regional and sub-national plans and ambition.

●   Ensure that the nation’s homes and buildings are retrofitted to be energy efficient by designing and delivering, with local government, a government-led long-term plan to decarbonise buildings and heat that sets out actions and investment needed to enable all existing homes and buildings to be Net Zero carbon by 2050 at the very latest. The plan should at least meet the manifesto commitment of £9bn public investment to deliver Net Zero in our homes and buildings and seeks to crowd in further private investment to meet this goal.

●   Speed up the transition to low and zero emission travel and enable the UK to be a global leader in developing zero emission vehicles including buses and freight. This should include a commitment to providing seamless access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the UK. Further support should be provided to citizens and businesses to switch from polluting vehicles to greener ones while also providing long-term investment in public transport networks and in creating built environments that prioritise walking and cycling.

●   Expand local powers to take action on Net Zero by enabling the national Net Zero effort through an enhanced devolution settlement, combining ambitious national strategy with a fresh and fair mix of powers and resources for local & combined authorities; enabling clear & accountable local Net Zero carbon delivery that unleashes the social and economic potential of every community.

Leeds City Council, Bath and North East Somerset, Belfast City Council, Birmingham City Council, Bristol City Council, Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, London Borough of Camden, Cardiff City Council, Cornwall Council, Leicester City Council, Liverpool City Region, Greater London Authority, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Manchester City Council, Newcastle City Council, North of the Tyne Combined Authority, Nottingham City Council, Oxford City Council, Sheffield City Council, Sheffield City Region Combined Authority, Southampton City Council, West Midlands Combined Authority, West of England Combined Authority

Find out more about the Taskforce or get in touch at info@uk100.org

White vans go green: Army of half a million builders and plumbers needed to reach Net Zero as local leaders urge £100bn green investment to kickstart green recovery

White vans go green: Army of half a million builders and plumbers needed to reach Net Zero as local leaders urge £100bn green investment to kickstart green recovery

●     455,076 jobs could be created in construction and property sectors across Great Britain

●     Cross-party taskforce of 24 Mayors and local leaders calls for £100bn in Spending Review along with 5 point Resilient Recovery Declaration

●     Calls for Government-led plan to retrofit homes and become world leader in low emissions vehicles

●     Net Zero Development Bank would increase private investment in zero carbon economy

RETROFIT ARMY

New research published by UK100, a group of mayors and local government leaders today shows that a “retrofit army” of nearly half a million builders, electricians, plumbers will be needed to meet the Government’s objective of becoming Net Zero by 2050.

The figures are being published as a cross-party taskforce of 24 Mayors and local leaders, representing 24 million people across England have submitted a proposal to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to unlock £100bn as part of the Spending Review, which closes today (24 September). The finance should be predominantly met from the private sector with the Treasury pump-priming £5bn via a Net Zero Development Bank.[1]

In total 455,076 jobs could be created or in demand in the construction and property sectors[2]. The construction industry has been one of the hardest hit in the pandemic, with 90% of construction businesses having applied for the furlough scheme, second only to the hospitality sector[3]. In total, over 3 million jobs are expected to be in demand or created as part of a shift to a green economy across a range of sectors.

Essex is the area with the highest number of potential new construction and property jobs – with a total of 12,841 roles likely to be created or in demand. Outside London (64,551 jobs) and the South East (67,467 jobs) the areas with the greatest number of new jobs are the North West (50,380), the East of England (48,427) and Scotland (42,978).

£100BN GREEN INVESTMENT

Analysis conducted by UK100 and Siemens, shows that a £5bn investment by the Government could unlock £100bn of private sector investment toward meeting the Net Zero goals by 2050. It includes £40bn for ‘retrofit’ such as energy saving and efficiency in homes and businesses; £10bn for renewables such as solar, wind and biomass; £30bn for low carbon heating such as district heating networks; £10bn for smart energy systems; and £10bn for low emissions transport such as electric and hydrogen vehicles.[4]

The UK Green Building Council has estimated that to achieve Net Zero carbon by 2050, we will need to improve almost all of the UK’s 29 million homes, meaning we need to retrofit more than 1.8 homes every minute between now and 2050.[5]

The new ‘retrofit army’ would be supported to go green with incentives to switch from diesel and petrol white vans to electric vehicles[6], as well as seamless access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the UK. There would also be support to encourage public transport use, walking and cycling.

Although the UK100 jobs data is not time specific, a recent report by the New Economics Foundation which interviewed industry experts found that “a period of three to four years was thought to be required to train up the supply chain to full capacity.”[7] Homes are a major source of climate change: accounting for 15% of emissions in the UK in 2018, primarily from natural gas use for heating and cooking[8].

JOINT DECLARATION AND SPENDING REVIEW SUBMISSION

The joint declaration by the 24 mayors and council leaders says: “The need for an economic recovery package that creates resilience in our communities and reduces carbon emissions has never been greater. The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the fragility of our economic structures, their exposure to external shocks and the need to support people in our poorest communities. We must seize the opportunity to create healthier, safer, greener and more prosperous communities, building in resilience to climate change through investing in the green economy…Adequate UK government investment, ambitious national frameworks and the necessary powers to accelerate local change, would enhance our ability to act in partnership to tackle the threat of climate and to reskill our workforces to set them on a path to a flourishing Net Zero economy.”[9]

The declaration includes a five point Resilient Recovery Declaration which is being submitted to the Chancellor’s Spending Review:

  1. a long-term government-led plan to retrofit homes across the country, which are some of the leakiest in Europe;
  2. a new duty for Ofgem to support the delivery of Net Zero as part of a renewable, locally planned electricity grid;
  3. creating a Net Zero Development Bank to increase private investment in renewable technologies;
  4. a commitment to providing seamless access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the UK; and ensure UK is world leader in developing low emissions vehicles
  5. new powers for mayors and local authorities to deliver Net Zero.

CASE STUDIES – NEW RETROFIT JOBS

A number of new jobs are expected to be created in the construction and property sectors as part of the shift to a green economy. Many of these are outlined in a framework of technical standards for retrofit, known as PAS 2035/2030:2019. These include[10]:

●     Retrofit surveyors and advisers. Surveyors and advisers would provide advice to homeowners on how best to reduce energy waste from their houses, on the financial benefits of a variety of retrofit measures and support available.

●     Retrofit builders and insulation specialists. Builders and labourers will need additional skills and experience of constructing energy efficient homes, as well as installing the latest insulation in existing homes to reduce energy leakage and meet the highest EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) ratings.

●     Retrofit heating specialists. Specialist technicians, who may have worked as gas boiler engineers could install technologies such as ground or air source heat pumps which can convert renewable-sourced electricity into heating and hot water, or biomass boilers which can burn waste timber with low emissions.

●     Retrofit roofers, carpenters and electricians. A range of specialist roles will be envisaged in the retrofit industry covering the design and installation of technologies including solar thermal systems; home battery storage and thermally efficient facades, which create an airtight and insulated shell around an existing property.

●     Retrofit co-ordinators. The Retrofit Co-ordinator has a key role in ensuring that effective standards are maintained such as the Trustmark accreditation[11] and is involved in all work stages to help reduce risks.

QUOTES

Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and Chair of the UK100 Resilient Recovery Task Force, said: “With the furlough scheme coming to an end, this country now faces both a climate and a jobs emergency—with both requiring urgent action.

“By investing in nearly half a million skilled and secure jobs as part of the Spending Review, the Chancellor could lay the foundation for a resilient and sustainable recovery across the country and ensure that we have the workforce we need to actually build back better and greener. Local authorities are ready to play our part in helping the country meet its legal Net Zero obligations. We will continue to lead the way, in partnership with businesses and the Government.”

Polly Billington, Director of UK100, said: “From Essex to Edinburgh, the move to a greener economy will create thousands of new jobs. By unlocking private sector investment through a Net Zero Development Bank, we can reduce the taxpayer burden and ensure the money is spent prudently by disciplined allocators of capital.”

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “I have been clear that a strong economic recovery and a green recovery are not mutually exclusive but one and the same. With green investments in jobs, skills, technology and infrastructure, we can create millions of new jobs, boost the economy, tackle inequality and unleash sustainable growth at the same time as tackling the climate emergency. I encourage the Government to do more to invest in green jobs and skills, and to help us power a recovery that leads London towards becoming a zero-carbon city.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “There is no hiding from the climate emergency we are facing as a country, and we must do everything we can to tackle this and reach our carbon emission goals. A key part of this will be a green and inclusive recovery from the Coronavirus crisis – one that delivers high quality, well paid jobs in high-tech new green energy sectors. Tackling climate change and providing people good jobs of the future go hand in hand. The UK100 Resilient Recovery Declaration sets out some critical priorities for cutting emissions and securing those vitally important green jobs for the future. That’s why we’re proud to sign-up to this declaration.”

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “We need a new economic model to drive recovery that is based on fairness and building back better. This research shows there is an opportunity to generate thousands of new jobs in a green economy by putting local communities in the driving seat. By working in partnership with businesses and leaders across the country, the Government can unlock sustainable growth.”

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “Front loading green infrastructure spend will give cities and regions the certainty and stability we need to plan for our recovery. It will enable us to line up the local labour and supply chains, supporting inclusive economic growth, as well as delivering on our climate and ecological goals.”

Councillor Sarah Bunting, Belfast City Council’s UK100 Taskforce representative said: “Covid-19 has led to an acceleration of our action to transition to a zero-emissions economy within a generation. It has focused minds, and led to more partnership working across the city to drive jobs-led growth. However, investment from government is needed to ensure projects at scale are brought forward quickly, either through retrofitting of local housing or stimulus for low-emissions transport. Like many cities, Belfast needs to make a step change towards decarbonisation in this decade. This is a profound challenge but offers substantial opportunities for our local economy.”

Cllr Joshua Schumann, Chairman of Environment and Sustainability committee at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “Covid-19 has brought challenges to many local government responsibilities and activities – protecting and supporting our communities has had to be our primary concern. In addition to the challenges there have also been opportunities that have been identified in how we can recover from the impacts of the pandemic and how the environment could have lasting benefits from new ways of working.

“Cambridgeshire is delighted to be part of the UK100 resilient recovery taskforce and pleased to add its name to the declaration. Green investment will be an essential part of economic recovery and creating a workforce that can deliver that, with the necessary skills and training, is one example of how we will facilitate it.”

ENDS

EDITOR’S NOTES

Members of the UK100 Resilient Recovery Taskforce

  • Leeds (Chair) – Cllr Judith Blake, Leader
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Cllr Dine Romero, Leader
  • Belfast – Grainia Long, Commissioner for Resilience, Belfast City Council
  • Birmingham – Cllr Ian Ward, Leader
  • Bristol – Marvin Rees, Mayor
  • Cambridge – Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader
  • Cambridgeshire – Cllr Steve Count, Leader
  • Camden – Cllr Georgia Gould, Leader
  • Cardiff – Cllr Huw Thomas, Leader
  • Cornwall – Cllr Edwina Hannaford, Cabinet Member – Climate Change and Neighbourhoods
  • Leicester – Sir Peter Soulsby, Mayor
  • Liverpool City Region – Steve Rotherham, Mayor
  • London – Sadiq Khan, Mayor
  • Greater Manchester – Andy Burnham, Mayor
  • Manchester City – Sir Richard Leese, Leader
  • Newcastle – Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader
  • North of the Tyne – Jamie Driscoll, Mayor
  • Nottingham – Cllr Sally Longford, Deputy Leader
  • Oxford – Cllr Susan Brown, Leader
  • Sheffield – Cllr Julie Dore, Leader
  • Sheffield City Region – Dan Jarvis MBE, Mayor
  • Southampton – Cllr Christopher Hammond, Leader
  • West Midlands Combined Authority – Andy Street, Mayor
  • West of England Combined Authority – Tim Bowles, Mayor

and

  • Professor Andy Gouldson, University of Leeds – Adviser to the Taskforce
  • Polly Billington, Director, UK100 – Taskforce Secretariat

++ FINAL DRAFT ++

RESILIENT RECOVERY TASK FORCE DECLARATION

23rd September 2020

The need for an economic recovery package that creates resilience in our communities and reduces carbon emissions has never been greater. The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the fragility of our economic structures, their exposure to external shocks and the need to support people in our poorest communities. We must seize the opportunity to create healthier, safer, greener and more prosperous communities, building in resilience to climate change through investing in the green economy. Such an approach will enable us to reskill our workforce, enable job creation, create cleaner, healthier, safer places to work and live, and restore the nature upon which we all rely.

As elected leaders of our communities, we are playing an essential role in tackling the current Covid-19 crisis, and we are fulfilling our role in building a resilient recovery from it. Our knowledge and understanding of our communities means that we are well placed to design and deliver solutions that improve health, prosperity and the environment. Adequate UK government investment, ambitious national frameworks and the necessary powers to accelerate local change, would enhance our ability to act in partnership to tackle the threat of climate and to reskill our workforces to set them on a path to a flourishing Net Zero economy.

Together, we can renew our communities by working in partnership with government if action is taken forward across government to:

●     Increase local Net Zero investment by establishing a Net Zero Development Bank to bring together appropriate UK government financing for the transition to Net Zero. The bank should have both an obligation and the capacity to work with Local Energy Hubs and support local authorities to develop place-based Net Zero projects and programmes, leveraging additional private investment to kickstart local energy schemes which are at too early a stage to be attractive to private finance.

●   Invest in renewing the electricity grid to ensure a smart decentralised energy system, enabled by a national framework for local area energy planning. The Core mandate of Ofgem and of devolved nation energy regulators should be expanded to include supporting the delivery of Net Zero emissions, and we support the regulation of future investment in Distribution Network Operators so that a greater role can be given to regional and sub-national plans and ambition.

●   Ensure that the nation’s homes and buildings are retrofitted to be energy efficient by designing and delivering, with local government, a government-led long-term plan to decarbonise buildings and heat that sets out actions and investment needed to enable all existing homes and buildings to be Net Zero carbon by 2050 at the very latest. The plan should at least meet the manifesto commitment of £9bn public investment to deliver Net Zero in our homes and buildings and seeks to crowd in further private investment to meet this goal.

●   Speed up the transition to low and zero emission travel and enable the UK to be a global leader in developing zero emission vehicles including buses and freight. This should include a commitment to providing seamless access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the UK. Further support should be provided to citizens and businesses to switch from polluting vehicles to greener ones while also providing long-term investment in public transport networks and in creating built environments that prioritise walking and cycling.

●   Expand local powers to take action on Net Zero by enabling the national Net Zero effort through an enhanced devolution settlement, combining ambitious national strategy with a fresh and fair mix of powers and resources for local & combined authorities; enabling clear & accountable local Net Zero carbon delivery that unleashes the social and economic potential of every community.

Full data is available at: bit.ly/uk100greenjobs (GB regional and local authority breakdowns available)

Methodology

The calculations draw on the paper ‘Characterising green employment: The impacts of ‘greening’ on workforce composition’ by Alex Bowena, Karlygash Kuralbayevab, Eileen L. Tipoec, in Energy Economics, April 2018. The paper finds x% of jobs in different US sectors have ‘green skills’ and y% require significant changes due to ‘greening’. The calculations assume these proportions apply, sector by sector, in the UK. We apply these proportions to existing jobs using the BRES survey.

Further details: See Robins, N., Gouldson, A., Irwin, W., Sudmant, A. and Rydge, J., Financing inclusive climate action in the UK An investor roadmap for the just transition. Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. July 2018 and Robins, N., Tickell, S, Irwin, W., and Sudmant, A. Financing climate action with positive social impact. Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. July 2020.

About UK100

UK100 is a network of highly ambitious local government leaders, who have pledged to secure the future for their communities by shifting to 100% clean energy by 2050. This is not just good for the planet but for the people and communities they serve, be they in villages, towns or cities. Local leaders are working together to create flourishing communities, seizing the opportunities of technology to create jobs and establishing a nationwide project of renewal, focussed on local needs and ambitions.

UK100 is the only network for UK local authorities, urban, suburban and rural, focused on climate and clean energy policy. We connect local leaders to each other, to business and to UK government, enabling them to showcase their achievements, learn from each other and speak collectively to accelerate the transition to clean energy.

We work closely with elected representatives, policy experts and grassroots campaigners to make the clean energy transition a reality. This involves developing solutions to challenges faced by each and all of our local leaders, whatever their geography, history or makeup, so as to influence UK government and building public support for clean energy solutions. www.uk100.org

[1] See Editors Notes and p21 of https://www.uk100.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/UK100_Report.pdf £5bn investment for £100bn return: This is based on the typical development cost range of 10-15% of overall capital costs for large scale district heating projects down to 2-5% for more straightforward energy efficiency projects.

[2] England, Wales and Scotland figures. Detailed figures available here: bit.ly/uk100greenjobs (GB regional and local authority breakdowns available). Data derived from Bowen, A., Kuralbayeva, K. and Tipoe, E.L., 2018. Characterising green employment: The impacts of ‘greening on workforce composition. Energy Economics, 72, pp.263-275. Also see Robins, N., Gouldson, A., Irwin, W., Sudmant, A. and Rydge, J., Financing inclusive climate action in the UK An investor roadmap for the just transition. Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. July 2018 and Robins, N., Tickell, S, Irwin, W., and Sudmant, A. Financing climate action with positive social impact. Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. July 2020

[3] https://www.constructionnews.co.uk/financial/constructions-furloughed-staff-down-to-one-in-four-02-07-2020/

[4] See Editors Notes and p21 of https://www.uk100.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/UK100_Report.pdf

[5] https://www.ukgbc.org/news/towns-and-cities-to-work-together-on-home-retrofit-as-calls-for-green-recovery-mount/

[6] https://www.uk100.org/city-leaders-across-country-join-forces-to-call-for-diesel-scrappage-fund-worth-up-to-3500

-to-each-car-and-van-driver/

[7] See p16 https://neweconomics.org/uploads/files/Green-stimulus-for-housing_NEF.pdf

[8] See p12 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/

attachment_data/file/862887/2018_Final_greenhouse_gas_emissions_statistical_release.pdf

[9] Full text of declaration in Editors Notes

[10] The roles outlined are derived from UK100 research and the 5 roles outlined in PAS 2035/2030:2019

https://www.creds.ac.uk/new-retrofit-standards-new-roles-existing-policy-do-they-all-fit-together/

[11] https://www.trustmark.org.uk/ourservices/pas-2035v

For further information please contact:

UK100
+44 7830 195812
alex@alexbigham.com
UK100.org
Putting the rural voice into climate action

Putting the rural voice into climate action

David Cope, UK100’s Countryside Climate Network Coordinator, spoke at the Rural Service Network’s annual conference Revitalising Rural on Thursday. In this adaption of David’s talk, he spells out why we need to include the rural voice in climate action and highlights some informative examples of councils engaging residents. 

UK100 is the only network for local authority leaders with a focus on net zero. But until recently, our network was predominantly urban. We recognised that we needed to be more inclusive, to support rural authorities that had distinctive challenges and opportunities around climate action, and to ensure that the rural voice was incorporated into our national advocacy campaigns.

That was why we created the Countryside Climate Network. We currently have 23 members from across England, together covering over 40% of the country and making up 20% of UK100’s membership. 

So far, more than 280 local authorities have declared climate emergencies. The ones that are generally finding it easier to act are those that have more devolved power or funding. But others, including many counties, unitarities and districts, are also acting positively. 

This second group is able to do so because they have the political will, public support and determination. We think that building consent and support among local residents is crucial for the success of climate action – it is a key aspect of building the power to act.

Climate concern is high

National polling tells us that concern about climate change is high. Before the pandemic, YouGov polling showed us that a quarter of the public felt that the environment was one of the most important topics facing the country – behind Brexit and health – with 74% concerned about climate change.

The pandemic hasn’t changed this. YouGov reported in July that ‘COVID-19 has not kicked environmental issues into the long grass’, with a quarter of Brits still viewing the environment as one of the most important issues facing the UK.

In spite of these general statements, it is evident that this doesn’t make the implementation of climate friendly policies smooth or simple. The introduction of low traffic neighbourhoods and pop up cycle lanes as a policy response to the need for travel adaptations to Covid-19 have demonstrated that even with a groundswell of enthusiasm for action, this doesn’t mean that everyone has provided their consent and support.

And even though the UK government is changing its position on support for onshore windfarms, there is still nervousness about whether communities will support their development locally.

That’s why we advocate for a high degree of engagement between local politicians and a broad cross-section of the residents and businesses in their areas. Last month we held a webinar on ‘mini publics’ – citizen assemblies and citizen juries – to discuss the pros and cons about their use in building consent and support in local communities around climate action. 

On 10 September, Climate Assembly UK – more than 100 ordinary people representing the diversity of the British public, commissioned by the UK Parliament – presented its report. The Assembly members supported the swift implementation of a variety of policies that the BBC referred to as ‘radical’, including banning gas boilers, frequent flier taxes, swift transition to electric vehicles and reductions in meat and dairy in diets.

But vitally, Assembly members also identified that the policy changes could only happen if there was better education for all on climate action. They highlighted that fairness needed to be an underpinning principle of the transition, and individuals and local areas needed to have freedom of choice. 

To me this highlights that the public are potentially very ready for radical changes, as long as they are part of those changes and they are not imposed on them. The importance of local choice and local solutions stood out for me too. 

The importance of engaging residents in action

Local authorities are well versed in engaging their residents in decision-making. As ambitions around climate action increase, it is ever-more important to involve residents in a discussion about what is acceptable and desirable to them. Here are a few examples from members of our Countryside Climate Network.

In Herne Bay, on the Kent coast, part of Canterbury City Council, planning permission has recently been given for the UK’s first green hydrogen plant. Powered by electricity generated by an offshore windfarm, this plant will produce hydrogen for use by buses, initially in London, but once production increases and new bus fleets are fitted out, it will be used by hydrogen-powered buses in Canterbury too. 

Some local residents had objected to the development on safety grounds – hydrogen being potentially explosive. The Councillor for the ward, Dan Watkins, one of our Countryside Climate Network members, had many conversations with local residents to discuss safety concerns, explain the risk profile and the project’s benefits. This type of engagement is crucial in achieving climate action.

In Cornwall, another one of our members, they recognise that some climate actions could be detrimental to some residents. So they have committed to ensuring no Cornish resident is worse off as a result of climate action. They developed a decision-making ‘wheel’ that balances environmental ambitions with social needs. 

With use of this framework, they have decided to not install fossil fuel heating in any new council-developed housing, have invested in a bike and walking network of trails to link together housing and economic growth areas, and are using central government funding to reduce bus fares across Cornwall. 

And in Cambridgeshire, the county council is working on a project that will replace oil fired central heating with ground and air sourced heating in the entire village of Swaffham Prior. The scheme is being offered to the village, but whether or not residents buy into it is up to them. The project was inspired from community members and this local ownership has been instrumental in building the support for adoption. 

Upcoming research to better understand local views on climate action

For all these reasons, we are about to commission some research into the views of rural residents on specific climate actions – including around transport, heating, energy generation and land management to name a few. This research will dig into what it is about these specific actions that make them easy to commit to, or contentious.

By understanding these issues better, we will be better able to explore ways to engage a broad section of rural society. This will allow local politicians to frame discussions about specific climate actions, equipping them to build consent and support locally. Ultimately, by building this consent and support, their power to act will grow. 

David Cope, Countryside Climate Network Coordinator

If you’d like to join UK100’s Countryside Climate Network, please do get in touch with Coordinator David Cope.

A ‘One Nation’ approach to climate action

A ‘One Nation’ approach to climate action

Cllr Steve Count, Chairman of UK100’s Countryside Climate Network, responds to the One Nation Building Back Greener paper

As leader of Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC), and Chairman of UK100’s Countryside Climate Network, I welcome the ‘Building Back Greener’ policy recommendations published recently by One Nation Conservatives. Delivering net zero is a perfect example of a One Nation approach – it will benefit everyone today and in future generations. The recommendations their report included will address the challenge of delivering net zero carbon emissions through incentivising better low carbon choices and planning for nature-based solutions to capture and store carbon emissions.

My Council, similar to others, is signed up to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest. We are working with businesses and our communities to deliver change. However, there is a delivery gap. For example, nationally we need to retrofit approximately one million homes a year for the next 30 years to take them off oil and gas for heating and hot water. But how can anyone believe that this can be achieved when other statistics highlight that only 172,000 new homes were built last year – do we have enough construction workers with the right skills to make change happen at this scale?

This low carbon construction skills and supply chain gap needs filling quickly, to address the need to scale up delivery of home retrofits. Additionally, and importantly, homeowners need to be incentivised to shift from oil and gas heating. In Cambridgeshire we are working with a rural community of 300 homes to move them off oil-fired central heating. However, there are currently few economic reasons why those householders should want to change to low carbon heating systems. Jerome Mayhew MP suggests a carbon tax will shift behaviour, drive demand from householders and encourage better environmental choice. I think it’s worth exploring whether a carbon tax could replace the VAT system over a period of time to achieve both behavioural change and keep costs neutral for the public.

Putting a value on carbon is important, whether real or just nominal. An initial nominal valuation will help improve environmental decision making within Cambridgeshire County Council. I am encouraging our business cases to include two prices – one which includes the costs of carbon emissions and one without. The test will be to review decisions to see if this results in us making better decisions towards achieving our ambition of net zero carbon emissions.

During 2019, researchers from Cambridge University quantified Cambridgeshire’s carbon footprint. Emission from homes, businesses, transport, waste, agriculture and land use change totalled 6.1 million tonnes CO2e in 2017, with a further 5.1 million tonnes CO2e estimated for agricultural peatland. As part of the research analysis, measures to deliver net zero carbon by 2050 were identified. Apart from all homes and buildings needing to be retrofitted with low carbon heat solutions, such as air source heat pumps, it was identified that a network of 3,500 EV chargers would be required, in addition to substantial increases to walking and cycling. A massive effort, but even this would not deliver zero carbon emissions. To reach net zero, carbon capture and storage will be required to remove the remaining 0.6 million tonnes CO2e every year for Cambridgeshire alone. For this reason, I welcome our South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne’s views on the publication of a Greenhouse Gas Removal Strategy that includes carbon capture and storage, tree planting and soil improvement.

The Countryside Climate Network (CCN100), comprises 23 rural authorities covering over 40% of land across England. Planting trees is something that local areas can plan and deliver with financial support (accepting some areas are more limited as to how and where trees can be planted). For example, CCC owns the largest county farms estate in England and works closely with its tenant farmers. I actively encourage our tenants to consider tree planting, use ploughing and other techniques to minimise emissions whilst also increasing soil quality and food productivity.

Initiatives for sharing best practice and nature-based solutions are also encouraged. Through our work with university researchers, I know there is an urgent need for a UK soil strategy – peatland emission calculations in Cambridgeshire are based on data that is over 40 years old and urgently need updating. This will allow us to plan how our peatland asset can be better utilised with regards to airborne carbon. Building investor confidence in nature-based solutions to carbon capture and storage must be supported as one of the overall solutions. I will be seeking environmental land management schemes, as set out in the Agriculture Bill, to invest in nature-based solutions to deliver results and proof of concept along with other local authorities in the CCN100.

The CCN100 is looking to work closely with government to support the UK to prepare as the host for the UN Climate Change conference, COP26, next year. This is our opportunity to showcase to the world progress and leadership.

If the key recommendations coming from the One Nation publication are taken up by the Government, my Council will be at the front of the queue to demonstrate how local climate action will make significant contributions to achieving our national net zero goal.

Cllr Steve Count, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council and Chairman of UK100’s Countryside Climate Network.

If you’d like to join UK100’s Countryside Climate Network, please do get in touch with Coordinator David Cope.