An international climate change summit will today demand that the Government gives local and regional authorities more power in order to achieve a net-zero UK.
The International Net Zero Local Leadership Summit will see 32 cross-party mayors and local leaders from across the UK call for powers and resources to be devolved from Whitehall to shape local energy markets, decarbonise transport and tackle emissions for homes and offices.
Arranged by Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and UK100, a body representing over 100 authority leaders, the event has been compared to the Paris City Hall Declaration in 2015, which paved the way for the Paris Climate Agreement at COP21.
Alongside the local and regional leaders, the conference will be addressed by Alok Sharma MP, president elect of COP26, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng MP and the Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcett.
A joint communiqué will be signed by 32 leaders at the summit providing concrete examples of “urgent policy changes” that would help local and regional authorities deliver net zero – including a ‘power shift’.
The signatories will include 32 mayors and leaders from major cities and urban areas including Cardiff, London, Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Bristol and Newcastle. That’s as well as rural areas like Cambridgeshire, South Gloucestershire, the West of England and Cornwall.
It will also be attended by participants from 22 worldwide cities.
Mr Sharma is set to tell the conference on Tuesday: “The Paris Agreement is a treaty between countries. To put it into effect, we need local government on board.
“That’s why cities are vital to COP26 – the most important climate conference for some years. We must halve global emissions by 2030 and that means taking action now.
“COP26 must be the moment that every country and every part of society embraces the responsibility to protect our precious planet. Local action is absolutely vital – generating over 70% of the world’s carbon emissions, cities will determine whether we can achieve Net Zero.
“We’re urging all cities and regions to join the Race to Zero – the United Nations campaign to reach Net Zero by 2050 at the latest. I’m proud that cities and councils from all over the United Kingdom have signed up from Newcastle to Nottingham from Cambridge to Cornwall and of course, the West Midlands.”
Speaking ahead of the conference, Mr Street said: “Climate change is a global emergency, and we know that every region and city across the world is going to have to play their part in tackling it.
“Here in the UK, the Government has set out ambitious targets to achieve net zero by 2050, and we want the West Midlands to play its part in that by meeting our net zero target by 2041.
“We’re asking ministers to give us the powers and the funding to do more. We want to work hand-in-glove with Government to accelerate the drive to Net Zero.”
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Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region, added: “The pandemic might have dominated our attention over the past year, but the climate emergency remains the biggest long-term challenge our region – and our planet – faces.
“Since I was elected, I’ve made tackling climate change a priority. But to make the biggest impact possible, we need the government to give local leaders the powers to really tackle the climate emergency.”
The urgent policy changes set to be demanded at the conference will include:
A clear and long-term plan and resources for the decarbonisation of new and existing buildings and homes
Setting up strategic energy bodies or similar mechanisms to address market failure in energy systems, with a duty to co-operate between public bodies and the companies that run our energy infrastructure
Reducing the high costs of connecting electric vehicle charging networks to the grid
A clear target must be added to the Environment Bill to reverse the decline in species and habitats by 2030
Ensuring the new UK Infrastructure Bank has a Net Zero mandate to deliver local investment in Net Zero projects
The above measures would be facilitated by a new Net Zero Local Powers Bill to cement new powers for local and regional authorities alongside new reporting requirements on emissions