Joint study by think tanks Green Alliance and Localis says government must support ambitious local industrial strategies, backed by new funding and devolved powers, to help local areas play their part in moving the UK to a zero-carbon economy.
Entitled ‘The route to clean growth – using local industrial strategies to drive change’, the report calls for the government to reaffirm its commitment to local industrial strategies with clean, climate-resilient growth at their core.
It suggests, for example, that local and combined authorities should have more powers to mandate greener building projects, contrary to the government’s renewed threat to ban them from doing so. They should also be able to use council tax and business rates to meet clean growth objectives.
The think-tanks propose that a proportion of the forthcoming Shared Prosperity Fund is ring-fenced for projects that enable clean growth by, for instance, supporting the grid infrastructure needed to expand renewable energy or improving public transport.
If local areas had more scope to take the initiative, as high levels of public concern about climate change suggest their residents want them to, they could futureproof existing areas of strength and build strengths in emerging fields like smart energy systems and offsite construction.
The report cites a number of examples of good practice, including Bristol’s pioneering CityLeap project, which is creating new local opportunities by attracting private investment in local energy systems, and the West Midlands, which has put the move to electric vehicles at the heart of its recently published local industrial strategy.
Green Alliance’s head of policy, Roz Bulleid, said:
“The impact of the climate challenges facing us are acutely felt at the local level. Some areas could lose jobs in high carbon industries while others are benefiting from new opportunities such as offshore wind. Local policy makers should be building clean growth into the heart of their economic strategies to attract the industries of the future and ensure local resilience in a world increasingly affected by climate change.”
Localis head of research, Joe Fyans, said:
“The clean growth challenge is to make the best use of local resources and powers to drive change across the country and at a much more rapid rate than previously.”
Leader of Cornwall Council, Julian German, said:
“As the first rural authority in the country to receive a Devolution Deal giving us more funding powers and the opportunity to co-design policy to deliver local services, we back this call for central government to support local industrial strategies with new funding and devolved powers”
Matthew Rhodes, Chair of Energy Capital, part of West Midlands Combined Authority, said:
“We’re pleased to support this report and excited to be working with Transport for West Midlands and constituent local authorities across the West Midlands to support low carbon opportunities and the move to low emission vehicles.”