IEMA has released a guide for local authorities in the UK to enable them to deliver ambitious targets for net zero. We know from research by the Climate Change Committee that around a third of the UK’s emissions are dependent on sectors that are directly shaped or influenced by local authorities (LAs). In response, most local authorities have declared climate emergencies and are developing strategies and action plans to deliver ambitious targets for net zero. Often these targets are as near as 2030 and as ambitious as aiming for net zero for their whole areas.

For the first time, IEMA’s guidance incorporates both climate action plans and the planning process, put together to help close the gaps between climate action plans and the planning process which both happen in parallel in local authorities. Overall, this toolkit is designed to join up the work carried out by climate change and sustainability teams, with that of planning teams. Planners may be unwittingly contributing to future workloads of climate officers, by planning for buildings and infrastructure that will need future re-design. Meanwhile, climate officers may be failing to spot opportunities to decarbonise their areas in collaboration with development opportunities. Our toolkit is aimed to redress this.

Sarah Mukherjee MBE, CEO at IEMA said “I’m absolutely delighted to launch our local authority guidance today. We urgently need to take immediate action to tackle the climate crisis and help our local authorities deliver on ambitious net zero targets with this toolkit. It’s imperative that individuals, organisations and businesses work together in order to try and combat global heating and to deliver on the UK’s plans for net zero.“

Currently, climate action plans tend to focus on reducing or removing existing emissions. Multiple building owners make it difficult to deliver energy efficient retrofit projects. Highways land is given over to carbon and pollution intensive private cars, making it physically and culturally difficult to carve space back out for zero-carbon cyclists and pedestrians. New developments tend to perpetuate these problems.

While any development will cause emissions growth, there are opportunities to mitigate this through taking climate change and energy use into greater consideration during the planning process. The best way to do this is by creating improved evidence bases for policies that address climate change in the future built environment.

IEMA’s climate change and energy policy steering group has worked with members in the planning and infrastructure emissions fields to create a simple set of steps for local authorities to follow. Following this launch stage, IEMA will be working with local authorities to trial the toolkit.

The toolkit is available to members as an interactive document or as a page-by-page PDF here.

Non-IEMA members can purchase this toolkit here, under 'Sustainability in Practice Guides'.


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