Cuts to local government funding could decimate councils' ability to tackle climate change

Published on Friday, 20 May 2011 15:11
Posted by Scott Buckler

The combination of draconian funding cuts and sweeping changes to the local government landscape could decimate council action to tackle climate change, according to a new report written by Tony Travers - of think-tank LSE London - and commissioned by Friends of the Earth (May 20th)

The report, launched today, suggests the Government's cost-cutting agenda is so severe it will be hard for councils to maintain spending on services such as protecting the environment and cutting carbon emissions.

'Local action on climate change - an analysis of Government policies' also finds that the pace of change in reshaping local and regional government is so great that councils may sideline issues like the environment.

Additionally, the report finds that removing requirements on councils for local action to protect the environment could lead to unsustainable and uneven development across the country.

The report finds that although there are great risks in the Government's approach, there are also opportunities - greater freedom for councils to introduce new financial incentives to encourage environmental action; and more pressure on councils to improve their own use of energy to reduce costs.

The report comes as MPs debate the Energy Bill. Friends of the Earth is calling for the Bill to be amended to require action on climate change to be a core responsibility of every council - meaning every local area will do its bit to tackle climate change locally through developing green energy supplies, low carbon travel and improving energy efficiency.

Commenting on the report, Friends of the Earth's Economics Campaigner Dave Powell said:

"The Government is conducting a huge, dangerous experiment with local government.

"Councils have been left reeling by massive budget cuts, and the Government has stripped away most responsibilities for them to act on climate change.

"It's hardly surprising that across the country, climate and sustainability programmes and teams are being decimated.

"Meeting the UK's commitment to slashing carbon emissions means every local area has to do its fair share - too much is at stake for action to be left only to the most determined councils.

"The Energy Bill must be strengthened so that every council does its bit to tackle climate change - and makes sure they can get hold of the cash they need to do the job."

 

Source: FOE

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