This paper from the Local Government Association sets out the powers available to local government to tackle climate change. It highlights the key powers, some of which are popular, but also others that are less well known, that can be used for both mitigation and adaptation activity.
The power to promote ‘wellbeing’ introduced in the Local Government Act 2003 gives a council discretion to do anything it considers likely to promote or improve the economic, social or environmental wellbeing of its area, provided that such action is not expressly forbidden elsewhere in legislation. This allows for expenditure, financial assistance, co-operation with others and the provision of staff, goods, services or accommodation, but cannot be used to raise finance. The wellbeing power is intended to be a ‘power of first resort’, and provides significant scope for climate change based initiatives.
The paper also offers practical examples of councils that have successfully applied some of these powers. It quotes the Islington London Borough Council Climate Change Fund. The council invoked the wellbeing power to create a 3 million pound fund to support green energy and transport capital projects that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions throughout the borough. The fund was set up to help achieve the targets set by the council’s climate change partnership, which was created as part of their local area agreement. Applicants wishing to join the climate change partnership were required to pledge to reduce their carbon emissions by 15 per cent by 2010.
The paper is available from the LGA. http://www.lga.gov.uk/lga/aio/874296