UK Mayors urge government to give them the tools to deliver net zero

A group of UK Metro Mayors have issued a fresh call for the government to strengthen support for the various net zero strategies developed by city leaders in recent years.

In a joint statement released yesterday at the Decarbonisation Summit hosted by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham at the city’s Science and Industry Museum, the group of eight mayors urged Ministers to give local government leaders the powers and funding necessary to deliver on net zero goals.

“Metro mayors and leaders across the UK are ready to lead the country to net zero carbon, but need to be backed by government with new powers and more resources,” the statement read. “We have each developed detailed plans for our regions to accelerate the drive to net zero carbon – in most areas by at least a decade ahead of the government’s 2050 national target.

“We know that we can play a crucial role in getting the whole of the UK to net zero carbon, creating a ripple across the country. By freeing the city regions up, we will be able to establish the skill base, new technologies and experience to lay the path for the rest of UK to succeed.”

The group also stressed that devolving more power to Metro Mayors in support of their decarbonisation plans would also provide a major boost to the government’s broader economic plans and leveling up agenda.

“This is much more than getting to net zero carbon, however,” the group said. “What we’re setting out to achieve is a greener future, but also a fairer one. We all have plans to do this. For instance, as we work to decarbonise, many of us will also look to reduce fares for public transport or keep them affordable – with a joint commitment to ensure they remain as low as possible.

“We are all developing plans to decarbonise homes through a retrofitting program – which can also help to reduce people’s energy bills and create good jobs.”

However, the group warned these plans were currently hamstrung by strict limits on the remit of Metro Mayors and continuing pressure on local government budgets.

“We are ready to grasp the opportunities that the transition to zero carbon offers to our harvest, but we need more regional powers to develop and maintain the skills we need to fill the jobs we create,” the statement read. “We will share best practice and research with each other and together explore opportunities around innovation, joining our regions up to create a country-wide impact. However, we need the government to work with us on this.”

The group said that it was specifically requesting greater regional powers over issues such as skills and a funding package that matches the ambitions set out in city’s net zero plans. “This is a golden opportunity for the government to work with us to decarbonise the country and level it up at the same time,” it said.

The statement was backed by Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram, Mayor of North of Tyne Jamie Driscoll, Mayor of South Yorkshire Oliver Coppard, Mayor of West of England Dan Norris, Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin, Leader of Glasgow City Council, Susan Aitken, and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, as well as Burnham.

The move, which echoes similar calls from the UK100 group of councils and local authorities, comes as pressure continues to mount on Metro Mayors to accelerate efforts to deliver on some hugely ambitious net zero goals.

For example, Greater London, Glasgow, and the North of Tyne region have a net zero carbon target date of 2030, while Greater Manchester and West of Yorkshire are aiming to deliver net zero by 2038.

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