Councillors express doubts over UK net zero target

A new survey has found that just 30% of councillors think the UK will hit its 2050 net zero target.

The poll, carried out by Savanta ComRes on behalf of BECG, asked more than 400 councillors from across England for their views on a range of climate change and sustainability issues.

In response, 48% of councillors stated that they do not think the UK is on course to meet its legally binding 2050 target, while a further 22% were unsure. Only 30% believed the Government will meet its 2050 climate change goal.

The survey findings follow the Government announcement in April that it plans to introduce new laws to slash carbon emission by 78% by 2035. The announcement now makes the UK’s climate change target the most ambitious in the world.

With hundreds of local authorities having declared climate emergencies in a bid to reduce carbon emissions locally, the recent survey also found that councillors were more likely to have confidence in the progress of their own local authority in tackling climate change, when compared to the UK as a whole.

The report revealed that 45% of councillors believe their local authority is on course to meet its climate change target, with just 31% disagreeing with this statement. Speaking at a recent net zero event organised by BECG, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, commented on the role of local authorities in meeting the UK’s net zero target:

This is a huge area where we [the Government] could be much more dynamic.

The Green Homes Grant has proven a highly effective initiative, but Government could do more to use its local government network to drive policy and implementation.

Council leaders and local government officials need to be brought on side and more engaged with Government on tackling climate change at the local level.

At BEIS, we are looking to work cooperatively with MHCLG to look at this issue in more detail.

BECG’s CEO, Stephen Pomeroy, also commented on the survey findings:

Over the past few years, we’ve seen local authorities taking an ever-increasing lead in reducing carbon emissions.

Around 75% of local authorities have now declared a climate emergency, and the successes of the Green Party at May’s local elections are a reminder of how high climate issues now are on the local political agenda.

While clean energy generation is key, around 40% of UK emissions come from homes. Successfully tackling emissions at a local level will play a key role in the UK Government meeting its overarching net zero target

What the survey findings point to is a need for greater collaboration between local and central government to help local authorities make tangible progress in decarbonising homes and transport.

To bring you our most comprehensive report ever, we have compared these findings from our latest survey with other climate-focused polling we have commissioned over the past 12-months.

Our aim was to better understand the action being taken by those in the built environment sector to reduce carbon emissions, and to help shape local and national policy.

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If you wish to talk more about net zero and its impact on the built environment sector, please get in touch.