Thursday, 2 July 2015

World Summit Climate and Territories - National policies should be afloor not a ceiling for Local Government action on Climate Change.

The World Summit Climate and Territories is the way Local Government and devolved administrations from around the globe are feeding into Novembers Paris Summit on Climate Change. It is being held in Lyon in France and I am there in my role as a Political Coordinator for the ENVE Commission of the EU Committee of the Regions.

One of the most telling slides in one of the presentations contained the words 'Cities Act while Nations Talk'. Governments can set targets but ultimately it is the implementation at the local level that is going to deliver the changes we need. 

In the UK we seem to be going backwards. Onshore wind has been effectively outlawed in the UK with  recent Government pronouncements following the General Election. So called 'Zero Carbon Homes' due to enter building regulations next year, will be nothing of the sort following Government caving in to the Home Builders Federation on energy efficiency standards. So what has this got to do with the summit I am attending? A particular recommendation I have sought to get included in the text for the summit was calling for national government policies and standards on energy efficiency and renewable energy to be regarded as a minimum beyond which local government could set higher standards. Effectively I was calling for a national policies and standards to be a floor not a ceiling on individual Councils ambition and activity.

Current agreements on climate change from Governments from around the world are inadequate if we are to have a chance of halting global temperatures at around a 2 degrees C. So one way that we could ensure there is greater progress would be to free Local Councils of the constraints on what energy efficiency and renewable energy standards they can specify in their local plans. In Kirklees I would like us to be allowed to specify Passivhaus standards for all new buildings. At a stroke this would cut new buildings energy demand by 90%. To put this policy in our Councils local plan would undoubtedly be challenged/thrown out by the Government's Planning Inspectorate as being too onerous or costly for those hard pressed developers. An International Agreement in Paris freeing Local Authorities to specify high energy effiency standards in buildings would be really helpful. Lets see what happens next.

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