Two thirds of local authorities have declared a climate emergency

According to latest figures nearly two thirds (265 out of 408) of district, county, unitary and metropolitan councils have declared a Climate Emergency.

In the year that the UN’s Climate Change Conference – affectionately known as COP26 – will bring more than 200 world leaders to Glasgow, it’s time for local authorities to grasp the nettle on zero carbon.

According to the latest Government statistics Britain’s housing stock is responsible for almost a fifth (18%) of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The passing of the 2008 Climate Change Act means that Britain is now legally bound to reduce greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050.

And subsequently our country has pledged to become the world’s first major economy to cut carbon emissions to net zero in just over three decades.

Replacing Britain’s old, cold housing stock would play a big role in denting the 18% of carbon emissions generated by housing. 

In 2016, the Government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, discovered a stark difference in Britain’s best and worst performing homes with the study finding that nearly ten times as much energy was used in the highest energy-consuming homes compared to the lowest.

In partnership with the County Councils Network (CCN) Public Sector Plc commissioned a white paper outlining how the creation of a new generation of low carbon homes can help local authorities to tackle several problems.

As Councillor Sam Corcoran, leader of Cheshire East Council, and the CCN spokesperson for Environment and Communities observed in the report: “Low carbon housing is one solution that would help us to reduce emissions in our areas, which in return provides benefits for residents such as dramatically reduced fuel bills

“As many of our authorities look at innovative ways to enhance our financial resilience, investing in low carbon housing using our own land could also help to provide an income stream whilst providing homes for rent that are of a high quality and meet a local need.”

Cllr Philip Atkins, the leader of Staffordshire Council and the CCN spokesperson for Housing, Planning & Infrastructure added: “Low carbon housing could be part of both a solution to the housing affordability crisis, and the climate change emergency. Using our own land and taking control of the development could help to provide the right types of homes for our residents in the right place.”

As landowners there’s much that councils can do to make better use of their land to accommodate and drive the development of a new generation of energy-efficient housing.

As a business Public Sector Plc has been anticipating the move towards low carbon development based on our conversations with local authorities over the past few years.

In 2018 we partnered with leading offsite manufacturer NetZero Buildings to design and build a carbon neutral family home.

Building precision manufactured homes in a factory, rather than building homes in rain, wind and snow in a field allows us to create energy efficient housing more simply and more quickly.

By taking the lead on housing development councils can bring forward much-needed housing more quickly, control the speed, type, quality and the housing mix of developments and crucially retain ownership of their land assets.

Carbon neutral homes also enable families to save hundreds of pounds a year on energy bills.

As well as helping to tackle climate change we believe creating a new generation of low carbon homes creates win-win for local authorities, taxpayers and for local residents.

While climate change is a global problem – the answer to it is local.

All of us in communities in cities, towns, and villages across Britain need to change the way we produce and consume resources in order to cut the amount of carbon we release into the atmosphere.

As Britain prepares to host COP26 councils can now demonstrate their commitment to halting climate change in ways that will bring benefits rather than difficulties to their communities.

To find out more download the County Council Network’s whitepaper here.