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A welcome task ahead

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Although councils are dominated by targets and commitments, there has been praise for another one - the local carbon frameworks pilots - because it should put local authorities in charge of the conversation.

The frameworks are an area-based approach that give councils responsibility for long-term planning and management of carbon emissions.

The notable new step in the process is the opportunity for councils to set out their “ask” to central government to help them deliver change. It’s a chance to unstick some of the barriers and complexities of carbon reduction projects.

High on anyone’s list is likely to be the simplification of funding streams.

Next would be some accurate and timely local data on carbon emissions. Strangely, it’s often not that the data doesn’t exist, but that councils are not allowed to access it.

This initiative could be more ambitious if the “ask” didn’t come from the usual suspects. If we are going to meet national carbon reduction targets of 34% by 2020, it’s not just the leading councils that need the attention.

These pilot councils have already set stretching long-term targets under their own steam.

Communities secretary John Denham hinted at incentivising all councils to significantly reduce their emissions - developing on the Local Government Information Unit’s work on councils’ carbon trading.

We need to understand what is holding other councils back. It’s probably not a lack of will, and certainly won’t be the same in every locality.

Gemma Bradshaw, deputy head, centre for local sustainability, LGiU

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