Over two thirds of UK residents support more local authority climate action

wind turbines and solar panels

New research released today by climate consultancy the Carbon Trust, has revealed that out of the 338 UK councils to declare a climate emergency, less than half of residents were aware of any action taking place to combat the crisis in their local areas.

Despite this, 68% of residents were keen for swift action, with strong support across all age groups, especially 25 to 34-year-olds with 83% supportive and 74% of over 55’s supportive.

Emma Ashcroft, the Carbon Trust’s Cities and Regions Associate Director, works with local authorities on Local Area Energy Plans. These are detailed blueprints of the plan to get to net zero in a local area.

She said: 

“Many local authorities have already taken significant steps to address the climate crisis, with a large number setting ambitious targets and developing strategies for decarbonisation in their local areas. However, many are limited by a lack of funding and resources to scale action up to the level required to be on track to meet targets. This could be a reason why residents feel like they are not seeing the level of progress they’d like.” 

The research polled 2000 UK residents at the start of November this year and despite the cost of living crisis, 10% of people felt so strongly about the environment they were willing to see their taxes rise.

The actions residents wanted to see most were more local renewable energy generation like solar panels or wind turbines (27%), investing in retrofitting homes with energy efficiency and low carbon heat (24%),  and improving waste collection services.

The Carbon Trust’s top tips for local authorities reducing their carbon footprints:

1. Develop a Local Area Energy Plan
2. Decarbonise buildings through energy efficiency and low carbon heat
3. Embed net zero principles into decision-making
4. Implement low carbon heat networks
5. Invest in solar and wind projects
6. Install electric vehicle charging infrastructure
7. Improve waste collection services
8. Supporting small businesses to reduce emissions
9. Investing in innovation, skills and supply chains to create a green economy
10. Decarbonising public transport

Ashcroft said:

“The high level of public support in these results is positive. Residents will be impacted by many of the actions in Local Area Energy Plans, so public engagement is critical to educate, inform and build support with communities. A significant share of emissions reductions  will need to come from people making low carbon choices, so to  see people so motivated to act is very promising.”

For those satisfied with their council’s activities, the steps they considered most notable were, improved waste collection (20%), low emissions transport infrastructure such as cycle lanes and pedestrianised streets (17%), and electric vehicle charging points (16%). 

This call by residents for more local action comes on the back of the global COP27 climate summit, which finished in Egypt last week.

UK residents said they were keen to take more individual action to help. This included more recycling (53%), walking (47%), driving less (32%), installing solar panels on their roof (31%), cutting down on meat consumption (27%), buying lower carbon products (26%), and investing in an electric vehicle (25%).

The Carbon Trust’s top tips for Brits wanting to reduce their carbon footprint:

1. Reduce, reuse and recycle
2. More walking and cycling
3. Retrofitting homes with heat pumps
4. Retrofitting homes with energy efficiency measures
5. Installing solar panels
6. Getting an electric vehicle
7. Buying low carbon products
8. Reducing meat consumption
9. Install a smart meter
10. Use heating controls