This report highlights the need to consider the rural context on the journey to Net Zero. It shines a light on the work of UK100’s Countryside Climate Network (CCN), in it’s first year since creation, and on its diverse crossparty members that are striving to deliver Net Zero. Through the CCN they are working together to gain recognition of and support for their collective role in tackling climate change.
Rural local authorities are central to the achievement of the UK’s Net Zero ambitions and this is demonstrated by the five in-depth case studies in this report, which outline activities underway in some of the CCN’s most ambitious members (Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Herefordshire, South Lakeland, Wiltshire) and also by opinion polling that UK100 commissioned to understand regional variations in public perception about the issue and the appetite for action.
The decarbonisation challenges that rural areas face are significant, but have received less attention than those of our cities. Yet there are also huge opportunities to improve the lives of people in rural areas on our pathway to Net Zero. Delivering Net Zero can level-up rural areas and provide co-benefits in jobs, enterprise, health, leisure and recreation, nature recovery, biodiversity, food and climate resilience.
The role of rural communities is more significant than has been previously acknowledged. Our recent insight has revealed that for the UK to deliver on its Net Zero commitments, rural areas need to be supported to provide a greater contribution than urban areas, specifically in providing:
- Land for onshore renewable energy
- Land for carbon sequestration – providing capacity for carbon offset for the most difficult to decarbonise sectors such as aviation and heavy industry
- Emission reductions from agriculture.
Delivering these critical elements of UK Net Zero can bring good quality, green jobs to the entire country, and important economic opportunities to rural areas, harnessing existing skills and capacity for reskilling.