After government's legal defeat, PeCAN thinks Local Authorities should have a bigger role in climate action.

Following this month’s High Court ruling that the government's climate plan is unlawful, Petersfield Climate Action Network trustees say that the government should give more powers and resources to Local Authorities to combat climate change.

The High Court ruled on 3 May that the government’s Carbon Budget Delivery Plan is inadequate to meet the UK’s legally binding carbon reduction targets. The ruling means that the Energy Secretary, currently Claire Coutinho, must produce a revised plan within 12 months containing a more credible set of policies.

More than 83% of the British public say the government should be doing more to fight global warming, according to the Global Climate Change Survey. The public's sense of urgency is underlined by reports that global temperatures have just broken records for an 11th consecutive month, causing alarm among climate scientists.

PeCAN chair of trustees, Greg Ford, said: “We hope the Energy Secretary will use this moment to give Local Authorities more powers to help communities cut carbon and more resources to do it. Local action will be the key to her plan’s credibility.”

PeCAN trustee, Peter Moss, said: “East Hampshire emits 68% of its greenhouse gases from heating and transport. If East Hampshire District Council had powers to write a strong Local Plan, it could ensure that all new developments have enough EV chargers and 100% renewable energy. If it had more funding, for example in exchange for contributing to national CO2 reduction targets, it could train more local installers and invest in local businesses and homeowners to help them insulate their buildings and switch away from fossil heating.”

East Hampshire District Council and Petersfield Town Council are both in the process of upgrading their climate and environment strategies but face constraints in their budgets and in their legal mandates. 

The government last year rejected a call from Chris Skidmore MP to give local authorities a statutory duty to take account of net zero targets.

PeCAN trustee Andrew Lee said: “With a proper climate mandate, backed by the right resources, there are multiple things that Local Authorities could do to lower people’s energy bills and create local green jobs, and help the government meet its obligations at the same time.”  

Further information:

  1. The Government’s March 2023 Carbon Budget Delivery Plan is a strategy for meeting legally binding carbon budgets (a cap on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in the UK over a five-year period) as well as meeting the UK government’s international pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by over two thirds (68%) by 2030.
  2. The successful legal challenge was brought by environmental groups Friends of the Earth, ClientEarth and the Good Law Project. Details of the case can be found in statements from Friends of the Earth and ClientEarth.
  3. Friends of the Earth plans to challenge the government again in June 2024 over its climate change adaptation plan, which the group says puts lives at risk by not doing enough to protect citizens from the accelerating impacts of climate change.
  4. The government published its response to Chris Skidmore MP’s Independent Review of Net Zero in March 2023.
  5. Petersfield Climate Action Network is an environmental charity run by local residents in Petersfield, Hampshire. Our mission is to help Petersfield and surrounding villages to reduce their carbon emissions and protect nature. Email us at [email protected].