Environmental Audit Committee

28 November 2007


Climate change and local, regional and devolved government

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) is today launching an inquiry into climate change and local, regional and devolved government.

Local authorities, regional government and devolved administrations have a vital role to play in reducing carbon emissions; they manage large estates, provide services and act as community leaders. There are a number of specific polices and targeted funds aimed at reducing carbon emissions that engage the various different levels of government across the UK. Over 200 local authorities have signed the Nottingham Declaration and made high level commitments to tackle climate change. Their focus is not solely on mitigation as they have a vital role to play in adaptation and dealing with the consequences of climate change. However, in recent inquiries, the Committee has heard from a number of witnesses of a lack of co-ordination between Whitehall, local authorities, regional bodies, and the devolved administrations.

The Committee invites organisations and members of the public to submit memoranda setting out their views on these issues. Some specific subjects on which the Committee would welcome comments are set out below, although respondents are free to comment on any issues which they consider relevant:

1. How can central government best support and encourage local authorities, regional government and devolved administrations to take action on mitigation and adaptation, and other climate change related areas like waste and transport? What funding, powers, and structures are required to improve joined up delivery of climate change policy at all levels of government?

2. Is there clarity about the role played by local authorities, regional governments and devolved administrations in tackling climate change? How can their actions be coordinated and monitored? How can the accountability and transparency of the response at a local level be improved? How effective has the Nottingham Declaration process been?

3. What, if anything, needs to be changed in the framework governing the actions of devolved administrations, regional government and local authorities? For example, does there need to be a more explicit reference to climate change in the local government performance framework and will the new performance indicators on climate change be enough to stimulate action?

4. To what extent should there be disaggregated targets for different levels of government? How should independent targets, for example Scotland will set its own emissions target for 2050 (80% reduction rather than UK target of 60%) and the Greater London Authority has committed itself to making a 60% cut by 2030, fit together with national carbon targets and budgets? How can Government monitoring and forecasting of emissions be improved so as to disaggregate emissions, and the impact of carbon reduction policies, in different regions and nations?

5. How advanced and co-ordinated are local, regional and national programmes of adaptation to climate change? What support is there for adaptation? How vulnerable to climate change are local authorities, regional government and devolved administrations?

6. How should the Committee on Climate Change reflect the interests and needs of the different levels of government across the UK?

7. What are the barriers to greater local or regional action? Do the different levels of government have sufficient powers to take action? What changes in policy are needed to support action at a local level? What policies are working well?

8. What impact will the new Planning Policy Statement on climate change have on emissions reductions and work on adaptation? How are the so called 'Merton rules' affected? How might other planning guidance be changed to reduce emissions?

9. Are local authorities meeting their duty to enforce building regulations in relation to environmental measures? Does the enforcement regime discourage non-compliance?

10. What good practice is there to be shared? How is best practice shared and does central government support for sharing best practice work? What role should UK Climate Impacts Programme, IDeA, Salix Finance, the Carbon Trust and Energy Savings Trust play in providing support?

Written evidence should be sent to the Committee by Tuesday 3 January 2008. Evidence sessions are likely to take place on 8, 15, and 22 January 2008 with further sessions taking place later in the year.

For printing purposes we require written submissions via e-mail to eacom@parliament.uk in Word format. We are unable to accept PDFs except for supporting documentation already in the public domain which will not be printed by us. Although we no longer require a hard copy, it is your responsibility to check that we have received your submission if no email acknowledgement has been received by you. A brief guidance note on the preparation and submission of evidence is available on the Committee's web pages. For further information on this inquiry, please telephone 020-7219-0248.