Headlines: October 12th, 2007

A new report says local councils could bring in measures to save 320 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by 2025. The report produced by the New Local Government Network with support from Kirklees Council and Serco, argues that the action would help meet the Government goal of 60 per carbon dioxide reduction 25 years earlier than the current forecast.

It identifies a number of what it sees as viable actions that authorities could take to cut carbon emissions in their areas. They range from converting landfill waste to electricity and offering interest-free loans to encourage local people to invest in microgeneration, to radical options such as congestion charging and giving residents carbon credits as a way of monitoring and limiting household emissions.

The document also puts forward the view that most decisions about the measures made could be politically advantageous through strong local political leadership. The NLGN Director, Chris Leslie said that if Ministers chose to introduce financial incentives and penalties for each town and city based on carbon-saving performance, climate change obligations could be met faster.

The proposal for a carbon trading framework between local authorities founded on financial rewards and penalties is based on a study of eight local authorities which participated in a carbon trading role play to cut emissions in their areas. Council officers had to introduce economically and politically viable policies over a five-year period and all the authorities registered a reduction.

The report’s author, James McGregor, said local government could take responsibility for reducing carbon emissions. “Councils have the democratic legitimacy to bring together local public bodies, businesses and communities in partnerships. They also offer to influence how citizens behave. Councils must become exemplars of sustainability to be able to influence the behaviour of others,” he added.