Financial constraints are the biggest challenge for seven out of 10 councils when looking to achieve net-zero emissions, a survey of decision-makers at 50 UK local authorities has uncovered.
The poll by consultancy firms Cluttons and AESG found that a lack of skills and time are the next biggest obstacles to net zero, suggesting that they need more support from central government and the private sector.
Of the councils surveyed, 58% were still in the initial stages of their environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies, while 11% had not started yet, and just over a quarter were in the delivery phase.
Worryingly, 69% of respondents said that they were not clear, or only had an average understanding, of their council's net-zero strategy. Just 27% had a clear understanding.
When it comes to carbon footprints, only 24% had a clear or comprehensive understanding of these, despite over 75% of local authorities in the UK having now declared a climate emergency.
“It is clear that councils need a lot more support and resource – not just for implementing the strategies, but to help create them, understand what’s needed and accelerate towards delivery,” said Niall Keighron, sustainability practitioner at Cluttons.
“The council representatives themselves state that finance, skills and time/resource are the biggest obstacles to overcome. By sharing expert insight and practical know-how we can work with councils to meet net-zero challenges head on and supercharge the UK’s drive towards net zero.”
Most councils cited financial savings from carbon reductions, environmental benefits and government regulations as the biggest drivers for them setting net-zero strategies.
Keighron added: “Despite net-zero targets rapidly approaching, the majority of local councils are still unaware as to how they will be expected to meet these, questioning whether these targets and declaration of climate emergencies were made as achievable goals or in response to public pressure and statuary obligations.
“Again, this is where the private sector can help bridge the gap between what’s expected and what is practical and engage councils and communities accordingly.”
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