Despite climate change falling off the agenda in recent years, and in the face of growing budgetary constraints, local authorities across the UK are still delivering their adaptation aims. By working in partnership with others, councils are seeking to make their services more climate-resilient, whilst also encouraging their local communities and business to do the same.
The recent severe weather events we’ve experienced over the past few years (winter flooding as well as summer droughts), has helped bring to the fore the potential socio-economic impacts a changing climate can have on councils and the local communities they serve. The cross-party pledge on climate change that was announced earlier this year by the three major UK political parties, further signifies the growing importance of this agenda.
The Local Government sector continues to demonstrate its role in tackling climate change: Climate Local is a Local Government Association initiative, launched in June 2012 to support local authorities in delivering their climate change objectives, and providing a platform for the exchange of best practice and allow peer-to-peer learning. With support from the Environment Agency’s Climate Ready Support Service, the voluntary programme aims to provide useful tools and guidance for councils to help them embed climate resilience work in their core activities. Currently, 102 councils are signed up to the initiative, committing to over 1900 individual actions on climate change, of which 26% fall under the climate resilience theme. Adaptation activities that are delivered under the Climate Local banner range from strategic actions such as embedding climate change in council activities, to on-the-ground action such as delivering green infrastructure projects to combat flooding and address the urban heat island effect.
An important strength of the programme is the virtual network which reaches beyond the council signatories and provides the sector with an easily accessible wealth of knowledge on all things climate change. The Climate Local virtual network is 400+ members strong and growing, offering access to tools, guidance and events.
Looking ahead, Climate Local and partner organisations will be working more closely with councils to support them in developing a business case for embedding adaptation work, and will continue to promote the sharing of best practice on adaptation across the sector.
To find out more about the initiative and the work of council action on adaptation, please visit the Climate Local website.