Since it was established in 2020 with ADEPT as a core member, the Blueprint Coalition has been working to create productive partnerships with government departments to promote the importance of local delivery of climate and nature targets. ADEPT CEO, Hannah Bartram, provides a brief synopsis of the recently published Blueprint Tracker which measures current progress.
Environmental organisations across the country agree that local delivery is intrinsic to meeting the UK Government’s legally binding targets for climate and nature. ADEPT and its partners in the Blueprint Coalition wanted to assess progress against the key recommendations set out in our 2020 report, A blueprint for accelerating climate action and a green recovery at the local level.
Central to the blueprint is the principle that focused support from government can transform climate action and that net zero targets cannot be met without local leadership and the work of local authorities.
The Blueprint Tracker published this month provides an analysis of government action against each of the seven recommendations put forward in the original document. Using a traffic light scoring system, the findings are troubling:
- Growing the zero and low carbon economy - in general, there is not enough emphasis on net zero in devolution deals or other key funding streams. There is still a huge missed opportunity to skill up the workforce in the green economy and local authorities remain under-resourced to deliver on local climate and nature ambitions.
- Retrofitting homes and buildings – written before the Autumn Statement, the report finds that funding for home insulation is insufficient and there is still no policy to support retrofit by those on average incomes. ADEPT is disappointed that the funding announced in the Autumn Statement is not immediate. Decarbonising transport - support in this area has been mixed and often too short-term. While funding for active travel is welcome, delays to key guidance on decarbonising Local Transport Plans and the Rural Transport Strategy are unhelpful.
- Planning to deliver zero carbon development that protects and enhances nature – ongoing turbulence in government means continued uncertainty for planning rules. Proposed changes set out in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill do little to improve alignment with climate targets.
- Reducing waste and encouraging sustainable consumption – progress on reducing waste and encouraging sustainable consumption has been insufficient. The delay to Extended Producer Responsibility legislation (now expected in 2024) has meant too few incentives for producers to minimise waste at source, and high costs for local councils.
- Restoring nature for all - although Defra’s own research shows a big gap in capacity to take on new work in relation to Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS) and biodiversity net gain, there have been delays to guidance and a lack of clarity on resourcing to councils. Uncertainty must be removed around planning policies and incentives to farmers for nature friendly farming practices.
- Developing local authority funding, governance and accounting systems that are fit for purpose - appropriate governance, funding and accounting systems to support climate action by local authorities is yet to be confirmed. Lack of detail on decarbonisation targets and trajectories across key strategies remains and because of a free-for-all on reporting public sector emission reductions councils are reliant on costly consultancy to fill the gaps.
Our findings show that there is not one green score against any of our recommendations. We have examined what barriers there might be outside the recent upheavals in government and what we have found will come as little surprise: fragmented, short-term and competitively allocated funding; a lack of clarity and direction in key policy areas; and delays to essential guidance. And we’re not alone in highlighting these concerns. The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has said: “The CCC welcomes the new Local Net Zero Forum, but it remains unclear how central, devolved and local Government will operate in concert to deliver Net Zero.”
The Net Zero Strategy published in Oct 2021, showed that the government understands the need for a place-based approach to climate action, that there should be greater clarity between central and local government, and that capacity and funding issues have to be addressed. The problem is that we have hardly moved on since then and we have a very real concern that in the current political environment, we are in danger of going backwards.
Both the Coalition and ADEPT have submitted evidence to Chris Skidmore’s Net Zero Review. The Blueprint response reiterated the points made in the Tracker, that there is a concerning lack of progress in the changes needed to support local delivery. ADEPT’s response referred to the Coalition but also ADEPT’s views set out in the Climate Change and Green Growth Policy Position how there needs to be better dialogue with place directors as well as councillors.
It would be wrong to say no progress has been made, but we are inevitably singing the same song: if we are to meet net zero and nature restoration targets, we have to be able to deliver across all our key areas and to do that, we need the resources and funding.
- Read the Blueprint Coalition progress tracker.
- ADEPT response to the Net Zero Review call for evidence.
- Net Zero Review call for evidence Blueprint Coalition response.
- Find out more about the work of the Blueprint Coalition.
- Read the Coalition document, A blueprint for accelerating climate action and a green recovery at the local level.
- ADEPT's Climate Change and Green Growth Policy Position.