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Low Carbon Communities

Low Carbon Communities

Imaginative Approaches to Combating Climate Change Locally

Edited by Michael Peters, Shane Fudge and Tim Jackson

Community action is a vital strategy in the fight against climate change and has increasingly informed government policy, academic inquiry and grassroots action since the start of this century. This timely and engaging volume explores both the promise of community-based action in tackling climate change and some of its limitations.

Chapter 5: The Role of Local Authorities in Galvanizing Action to Tackle Climate Change: A Practitioner’s Perspective

Simon Roberts

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental geography, environmental sociology, geography, human geography, politics and public policy, public policy


Simon Roberts INTRODUCTION The role of local authorities in tackling climate change is increasingly identified as a key component of a concerted national effort to curb carbon emissions. In the UK, new performance indicators have been put in place such that local authorities will start to be measured and performance managed on how well they use their influence to curb emissions locally. This chapter explores the potential extent of that influence (examining also reasons for its limitations), the necessary conditions for successful action by local authorities (which are currently relatively rare), and the relative merits of the range of approaches being used in an attempt to establish such conditions. It offers a practitioner’s perspective; the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) is one of the UK’s leading energy charities which has been working closely with local authorities on initiatives to tackle climate change for several decades and more recently has led key research studies for the UK Government and the Local Government Association into the role of local authorities. THE OFFICIAL RISE OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES AS ‘KEY’ PLAYERS IN TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE At the turn of the twenty-first century, the UK Government’s Climate Change Programme (UKCCP) laid out for the first time its suite of policies designed to deliver the UK’s international and national commitments to reducing greenhouse gases, and in particular carbon dioxide emissions (HM Government, 2000). The UKCCP expressly acknowledged the ‘unique and critical role’ that local authorities can play in ensuring 75 76 Low carbon communities delivery of...

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