Regen is calling on the government to give local authorities greater powers for enabling net zero.
In a new report, the trade body has stressed that the UK will not be able to achieve net zero without government leadership and “active engagement of the people and organisations living and working within each of the UK’s nations, cities and regions”.
As local authorities have a democratic mandate to work for the good of the people they serve alongside powers to levy taxes and knowledge of their communities, they are “uniquely placed” to lead a net zero transition offering local jobs and investment opportunities.
However, to do this they will need effective partnerships with the energy networks, local communities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and the private sector, Regen said.
As such, it has released a number of recommendations for the government, one of which being that it should support the development of smart local energy systems by introducing shared network access for local projects in Ofgem’s review of network access charges. It should also press ahead with mandatory half-hourly settlement to support smart energy tariffs.
The government should also offer guidance and significant funding to local authorities through the creation of a funded low carbon transport plan that balances the need to keep people safe from COVID-19 with the need to decarbonise transport.
Guidance should be issued for local authorities on how to set up new Power Purchase Agreements to fund new community energy projects, and energy projects should be included as a suitable category in future lending terms for the Public Works Loan Board.
Other recommendations include:
- Developing a national net zero carbon strategy and using it to drive regular communications on climate issues and policy development.
- Establishing a formal governance role for UK regions over the future of critical energy infrastructure, including delegated powers from Ofgem to guide the networks’ investment planning, appraisal and delivery processes.
- Introducing a new statutory duty for local authorities on net zero energy, with appropriate funding.
- Raising the ambition of the Future Homes Standard to be net zero compliant and allow local authorities the freedom to be more ambitious than the national decarbonisation timetable
Like many others, Regen is also calling for the government to focus the economic recovery on the energy transition, stating that it offers skilled jobs, world-leading research opportunities and high value capital investment.
Those to recommend a green recovery include the International Energy Agency, the Aldersgate Group, the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group, the Committee on Climate Change and the Confederation of British Industry.
This week, the Mayor of London announced £1.5 billion for green infrastructure projects to kickstart the capital's COVID-19 recovery.
Funding will go to projects designed to help support decarbonisation and create jobs, including ensuring the electricity infrastructure can support the electric vehicle rollout.