A group of 41 city mayors and council leaders have committed to push for more government funding for clean energy projects in their local authorities.
Regional leaders in England and Scotland, including six London boroughs, signed a pledge today (10 December) to reach net zero carbon emissions in their respective councils by 2045, five years ahead of the national deadline set out by the UK government last year.
The UK100 Net Zero Pledge - an open letter signed by the councils -explains that they will target carbon neutrality across their own operations by 2030, and to work with residents and local businesses to bring overall emissions “in line with Net Zero” by 2045. The initiative has been launched in the run-up to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), which will take place in Glasgow in November next year.
Although the pledge itself does not reveal any details about how emissions will be brought down, councils have committed to pressuring the government for more funding for green initiatives and to avoid overusing carbon offset schemes, which should only be used “as a last resort”.
Some leaders hinted they will back renewable energy projects, and many regions are already establishing sizeable projects of their own.
Sheffield City Council’s mayor Dan Jarvis said the authority has proposals for £200 million to “grow the low-carbon sector and invest in green energy”.
Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotherham has ambitions to establish the River Mersey as “Britain’s Renewable Energy Coast”, diversifying the council’s energy supply through more offshore wind, hydrogen and solar backing.
Several UK authorities have already invested in solar or energy storage projects to mitigate their local infrastructure’s environmental impact. Adur & Worthing councils announced plans to install 5MW of rooftop solar PV, ground-mount PV and solar carports between them at the start of December, noting that solar investment is a “critical part” of their respective carbon strategies.
Newport City Council has also worked on its solar energy capacity throughout 2020, fitting Wales’ largest rooftop installation over the summer, and is now exploring the possibility of a 75MW solar farm that could power 18,000 homes when it goes live.
The pledge follows the UK100 - a network of 100 Mayors and local government leaders - partnering with Siemens UK in the summer to call on the government to create a Net Zero Development Bank and pledge £5 billion towards local energy projects.