Climate Change Minister Phil Woolas has set out the vital role that councils can play in fighting climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions, both through their own actions and by setting an example to the wider community. This change in emphasis on the role of local government will be marked by assessing how well the councils perform in securing carbon reductions as part of the new Comprehensive Area Agreement framework to be introduced in April 2008. See Publicnet 20 November 2007.
As well as taking action to reduce emissions themselves as estate managers, councils have a vital role to play as community leaders in challenging and informing their residents to drive down emissions across the area they serve.
The emission statistics show the scope for councils to influence the fight against climate change. The statistics assign emissions to end users. For example, the emissions created by a power plant are assigned to the users of the electricity rather than to the plant itself. The figures show that nationally, 45 per cent of emissions were attributed to the industrial, commercial and public sector sources, 27 per cent to the domestic sector, and 28 per cent to road transport. The industrial, commercial and public sector has the highest share of emissions in 48 per cent of council areas. The road transport sector has the highest share in 31 per cent and the domestic sector the highest share in 21 per cent of council areas. The road transport sector has the lowest share in 46 per cent of areas.
Councils are increasingly taking up the challenge to reduce emissions and more than 270 have now signed up to the Nottingham Declaration, a voluntary pledge to address climate change that any council can make to its own community. Many councils are also working to reduce emissions in areas like promoting renewable energy and improving energy efficiency in public and private buildings.