Government must provide funding for local climate action

19th June 2023 - 08:00

The Government should “put in place a coherent framework to support local climate action, backed by appropriate funds, resources and skills”, according to a report published today by the Place-based Climate Action Network (PCAN).  

The report – Enabling Place-Based Climate Action in the UK: The PCAN Experience – was launched at a conference today at the Royal Society in London. It highlights the importance of local climate action and provides recommendations for local authorities, businesses, and the national government.  

The authors detail how local climate partnerships, such as climate commissions, are continuing across the UK despite challenges of funding and national policies.  

Climate commissions are city-wide partnerships bringing together people from the public, private and civic sectors who work collaboratively with the local authority to help drive climate action.  

There are currently 20 climate commissions or partnerships facilitating collaboration between local communities, businesses and local authorities across the country.  

Dr Candice Howarth, lead author of the report and Co-Director of PCAN, from the London School of Economics, said: “The UK is not on track to substantially reduce emissions or to address challenges in adapting to a changing climate. However, we can see countless examples of local communities coming together to form partnerships that can galvanise action.  

“We now need to see politicians support local climate action with the required funding, resources and proper leadership.” 

The report was authored by academics from the London School of Economics, the University of Oxford, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Edinburgh and the University of Leeds. 

Findings and recommendations

Key findings from the report include: 

  • Place-based climate action in the UK continues to grow – there are now at least 20 climate commissions or similar partnerships spread across the country. 

  • New governance models for climate collaboration across sectors are emerging, often tailored to a particular place. 

  • Successful local engagement and partnership models have emerged across the country, often, but not always, in the form of climate commissions. 

  • Local climate commissions and partnerships are not a substitute for policy and political leadership and are often hindered by the national climate policy landscape. 

The report outlines 16 recommendations for local authorities, local communities and stakeholders, local businesses, and national government and the devolved administrations, to implement, including: 

  • The government should put in place a coherent framework to support local climate action (mitigation and adaptation together), backed by appropriate funds, resources and skills. 

  • The government and the devolved administrations should tackle the institutional and policy barriers holding back local climate action, to prevent national policy uncertainty and top-down approaches from hindering the energy, commitment and resources that place-based action can mobilise. 

  • Local businesses should play their part in leading and supporting place-based programmes of emissions reduction, recognising that the benefits of a net zero local economy cannot be delivered by local authorities and public investment alone.  

  • Local authorities should adopt a partnership-based approach to local climate action, mobilising the energy and expertise of private, public and third sector actors. 

  • Local authorities should move from the rhetoric of climate emergency declarations to action with locally supported, evidence-based climate action plans that tackle both mitigation and adaptation, allocating resources appropriately. 

  • Local authorities should embed climate action fully into local decision-making and broader local strategies such as planning, economic development and health, so they are consistent with and support the delivery of place-based climate leadership. 

'Essential' role for commissions

Professor Swenja Surminski, from the London School of Economics and the Climate Change Committee's Adaptation Committee, who wasn't involved in the report, said: “Encouraging people to become ‘place protectors’ is a good way to support them to ‘act locally, think globally’ in relation to climate adaptation and mitigation.  

“As climate change impacts are most often experienced locally, place-based adaptation is essential to respond to the unique ways in which these climate impacts manifest and to ensure local priorities, values and knowledge are incorporated into adaptation action. Climate commissions can play an essential part in that process.”  

Professor Sam Fankhauser co-authored the report and is Co-Director of PCAN and Research Director of Oxford Net Zero at the University of Oxford. He said: "This report documents the importance of place in the fight against climate change. Local engagement and partnerships are essential to turn the rhetoric of climate emergency declarations into tangible actions for net zero and climate resilience.

"The government must put in place a much more coherent support frameworks to promote local climate action."


Image credit: Alisdare Hickson via Flickr