Environmental lawyers have warned over one hundred local authorities that they risk legal action if they do not introduce ‘proper climate change plans’ in line with the Climate Change Act 2008. Notices have been sent to each local authority that is currently revising its local plan, giving them an eight-week deadline to explain how they will set evidence-based reduction targets and how these will be central to their new policies.
The warning come amidst growing pressure on local governments to declare ‘climate emergencies’. This summer, Jeremy Corbyn stated that local government and local communities are ‘absolutely essential to confronting the climate emergency’ following Cheshire East’s recent climate emergency declaration.
ClientEarth climate lawyer Sam Hunter Jones said that there was ‘a collective failure’ by local authorities across England to plan adequately for climate change. ‘Too often climate change is perceived to be just a national or international issue and therefore solely the responsibility of central government,’ he said.
‘Clearly central government needs to do more, as the recent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) progress reports stress. Yet so many of the daily decisions around new and existing infrastructure – such as new buildings, roads and utilities – are made at the local level. All of these decisions will ‘lock in’ an area’s future emissions and its resilience to climate change.’
Sam Hunter Jones
Cities have recently announced local carbon reduction targets with Greater Manchester and London committing to net zero emissions by 2038.