Call for statutory climate change role for councils

2 Nov 06
Local authorities should be placed under a statutory duty to guarantee the environmental sustainability of their areas for future generations, leading green campaigners said this week.

03 November 2006

Local authorities should be placed under a statutory duty to guarantee the environmental sustainability of their areas for future generations, leading green campaigners said this week.

Warren Hatter, director of public sector programmes at sustainable development charity Forum for the Future, said the publication of Sir Nicholas Stern's review of the economics of climate change was a turning point in public policy making. Although a national framework was needed, local action was also necessary, he added.

'For all its strengths, there's very little [in the local government white paper] that is practical on climate change or sustainable development,' Hatter told Public Finance. 'What is good is that it explicitly puts local authorities in a leadership role… The overriding duty on local authorities and Local Strategic Partnerships should be about the long-term viability of the area.'

He added that little thought had been given to the relationship between climate change and public funding. Hatter suggested a duty could also be placed on local authorities to report on the carbon emitted and waste produced for every pound of public money spent or that greener councils could be rewarded with extra funding.

The Stern review, published on October 30, said there was 'widespread potential for cost-effective energy conservation across government buildings and state-owned industrial facilities'.

It cited Woking Borough Council, which has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 82% across its own buildings. The council has adopted a climate change strategy and joined with a commercial partner to establish an energy services company to finance sustainable and renewable energy projects.

PFnov2006

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