Local Authority Contributions to Net Zero

Edinburgh Climate Change Institute
Built environment
Homes & Buildings
While it has legislated for Net Zero nationally, the UK Government’s approach to working in partnership with local authorities to enable programmes and projects that will achieve Net Zero hasn’t delivered to date.

Local authorities’ efforts are being hampered by a lack of a UK Government local delivery policy framework, a lack of clarity over local authorities’ overall roles, piecemeal funding, and diffuse powers and responsibilities.

The Net Zero Strategy’s inclusion of plans for a Local Net Zero Forum is a positive indication that these issues have been acknowledged by the Government, but the formation and operation of this Forum will be crucial to ensure effective delivery.

This report was commissioned by UK100 and carried out by the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute (ECCI) as an independent study to identify:

  • The areas of activity local authorities have direct responsibility for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • The powers to influence GHG emissions that local authorities have
  • The percentage share of GHG emissions that local authorities have control over
  • Identify those sources that local authorities have influence over.

The report estimates that local authorities contribute around 6% of the UK emissions inventory (range of 4% to 9% - direct and indirect emissions). This figure is three times the impact of all non-energy related emissions from industrial processes in the UK, which accounted for 2% of the UK’s GHG emissions in 2018.

The Government’s provisional figures in the Net Zero Strategy estimate that over 30% of the emissions reductions needed across all sectors to deliver on the 6th Carbon Budget target, rely on local authority involvement to some degree.

There is now great urgency for the development of a more coherent approach. An approach that puts in place the necessary consistent monitoring and reporting, that develops the partnerships needed, and equips local authorities with the powers, skills and resources that they need to play their full part in the delivery of Net Zero.