Climate action at a council level holds the key to reducing emissions and creating jobs, according to research commissioned by Friends of the Earth (FoE).
Better insulation and installing greener energy in homes and businesses could create 70,000 jobs in England and Wales, according to the independent study carried out by environmental trust Carbon Descent.
The research is part of FoE's Get Serious About CO2 campaign to encourage councils to cut local carbon dioxide emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2020, as well as to publish details of how they intend to go about it.
‘Local councils must play a big part in slashing the UK's carbon emissions to help avoid runaway climate change,’ said FoE executive director Andy Atkins. ‘With the economy in such a sorry state at the moment, our towns, cities and villages could really use a boost from new green jobs.’
Some councils are leading the way in terms of reducing emissions, but none so far has achieved the 40 per cent target.
Birmingham City Council has set itself an ambitious target of 60 per cent reductions by 2026, former London mayor Ken Livingstone signed the city up to a 60 per cent decrease on 1990 levels, while Manchester has committed to a 33 per cent drop by 2020.
Aberdeen City Council won last year’s Guardian Public Services Award for sustainability, reducing its carbon footprint for the fourth year running. Islington was the first council to sign up to a borough-wide CO2 reduction target of seven per cent by 2010. Teignbridge District Council has reduced its landfill waste per head to the second lowest in England. Sheffield City Council has drawn up plans to reduce carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2020, and Cumbria County Council by 25 per cent by 2012.
The drive for lower emissions may result in 70,000 new jobs, including for plumbers, electricians, insulation specialists, builders, architects and administrative staff. The figure was calculated from a study of 65 local authority areas.
The Get Serious About CO2 campaign is also calling for more funding from national Government to allow local councils to improve public transport and make it safer to walk and cycle.