Headlines: March 13th, 2007



An Independent Climate Change Commission has been set up to investigate the important part local councils play in tackling climate change as well as the ways they adapt to it. The Commission, announced by the Local Government Association, will look at councils’ own actions and the role they play in encouraging others to cut their carbon emissions. Commission members will consult authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland during their investigations.

They will look at how local authorities can reduce emissions from their own buildings and facilities as well as in the services they provide and through the way decisions are made about housing, transport and social services. The Commission will also investigate how councils buy green goods and services and the most effective way to share best practice. Its brief will also be to look further at the leadership role of councils in encouraging individuals, communities and businesses to reduce emissions.

The Commission, to be chaired by Professor John Chesshire, a leading energy economist, will meet for the first time on Friday and aims to produce an initial report in time for the LGA’s annual conference in Birmingham in July and to publish its full findings by the end of the year.

As part of its work it will study major climate change challenges, including reducing energy use, changing attitudes to energy efficiency, encouraging the use of renewable energy and planning for extreme weather, including the best way to deal with flooding through managed retreat from vulnerable areas. Objectives set for the Commission by the LGA are to review and evaluate critically local government’s track record on climate change; make recommendations on how local government response could be improved and to raise the profile of local government in responding to climate change in central government with the public and among all councils.

Professor Chesshire, said climate change was one of the biggest threats facing the world today and we all needed to change the way we lived to help tackle the problem. He added, “Councils have a huge role to play in influencing people to change their behaviour. The work of the Independent Climate Change Commission will investigate how authorities can do more to advise, support and help local people make these essential changes.”