A motion calling on the government to ensure the adequate representation of local government at COP26 has been unanimously approved at the Local Government Association’s (LGA) General Assembly.
The motion, proposed by Brighton & Hove City Council Leader, Councillor Phélim Mc Cafferty, agreed to:
- Call on national government to ensure the adequate representation of local government at COP26, in order to promote the significant contribution, leadership and efforts of local councils in reducing toxic carbon emissions across the UK and to champion the innovative and rapid progress being made at a local level to tackle climate change.
As well this, it encourages councils to continue their work to address climate change by:
- Promoting further signatories to the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration. This declaration confirms the commitment of local and regional authorities to develop sustainable food policy and calls on national government to put food and farming at the heart of the global response to the climate emergency at COP26.
- Promoting greater participation from local councils to the UK1002, the network for UK locally elected leaders who have pledged to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and switch to clean energy as soon as possible.
The motion acknowledged the steps that local authorities across the UK are taking to combat climate change, cut carbon emissions and protect the environment, including through the following measures:
- Declaring a climate and biodiversity emergency, action now taken by nearly three-quarters of all local councils.
- Announcing extensive commitments, often with detailed action plans to reach net zero carbon by 2030, surpassing the government commitments of 2035.
- Implementing broad community level action on climate change, such as climate assemblies, green bonds, warmer homes schemes, sourcing electricity demand from renewables and developing new parks, open spaces and active travel measures;
Councillor Mc Cafferty’s motion also discussed the response of local councils on the issue of sustainable food, given that food systems account for 1/3 of total greenhouse gas emissions, environmental degradation, food waste and socio-economic and health inequalities.
He highlighted the efforts of councils during the Covid-19 crisis in providing food to local communities, as well as supporting community food growing and assisting food banks.
Commenting, Councillor Mc Cafferty said:
“I want to thank all the political groups, but I think the fact that we got political agreement across the entirety of the LGA is obviously incredibly powerful, but it also demonstrates the seriousness with which local government continues to understand the climate crisis.
“I think that what I was wanting to really emphasise was the work that we do on climate is more than just reducing emissions figures, it’s also about addressing social inequality, poverty, building a better future and especially as we come out the pandemic, we want to talk about a green recovery.
“We simply can’t bounce residents from the Covid-19 pandemic back into the climate crisis.”
Prior to the meeting, the LGA announced that they supported the ‘broad aim’ of the motion and said that councils are well placed to support the government to meet its net zero carbon ambitions by 2050 or sooner.
They said the position of councils as place-shapers, convenors of communities and businesses, asset-owners, problem solvers and significant purchasers puts them at the forefront of delivering real, tangible changes in the transition to net zero.
The LGA said this is why the government should work with councils and businesses to establish a national framework for addressing the climate emergency.
They are already engaging with the COP 26 process to ensure adequate representation of local government and one of their key asks of the UK COP Presidency is a dedicated local government day in accordance with previous COPs.
As well as this, they are calling for the recognition in the negotiation process to work with regional and local government in delivering the national climate plans (known as NDCs) in the COP26 deal.
A Climate Change Task Group has also been established to provide strategic oversight of the LGA’s political engagement on net zero in the lead up to November’s summit.
With the motion passing, further work related to this will be taken up by the LGA’s Environment, Economy, Housing and Transport (EEHT) Board.
PSE will be hosting a Public Sector Decarbonisation event on 9 September. Join us for the full day event by registering here.