Headlines: December 13th, 2007

A local government think-tank is calling for councils to do more to balance their economic policies with the need to do more to protect the environment. In a new pamphlet the Local Government Information Unit urges authorities to work to integrate policies on economic growth and development with those that promote environmental sustainability.

The new document looks towards councils having a greater role in economic development, in line with the proposals in the Lyons Review and set out in more detail by the Sub-National Review of Economic Development and Regeneration. At the same time, it says, they are also to have more responsibility for environmental sustainability because of the increasing focus on tackling climate change, highlighted by the Stern Report and the Climate Change Bill.

‘Greening Growth’ looks at this apparent conflict by defining the ‘elastic’ concept of sustainable development. Through a series of theories and examples it goes on to show that economic growth and environmental sustainability need not cancel each other out.

Its author, Andrew Jones, who is a policy analyst at the LGIU’s Centre for Local Sustainability, said, “It has become obvious that the economic development people are not talking to the sustainability people because of this idea that the two aims are opposed to one another and contradictory. But we know that they can be reconciled and are not mutually contradictory things. When we measure economic wealth we are not able to see how the environment supports growth and how the economy supports the environment. We cannot detract the economy from the environment because the two go hand in hand.”

He added that the Centre was concerned that councils might become driven by an entirely economic growth target but he argued that the cost of economic growth needed to be taken into account and there was a need for a good method of environmental accounting.