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Climate pledge scrutiny urged

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Councils that signed a national pledge to tackle climate change should have their performance monitored by an external body, a group of MPs has demanded.

The House of Commons environmental audit committee said the progress of councils which had signed the Nottingham Declaration should be measured by self-assessment and external verification.

The Audit Commission should consider using information gathered in its comprehensive area assessments, its report added.

Some witnesses who gave evidence doubted the value of the declaration. Warwickshire CC, in a statement to the committee, warned: “A lot of authorities have done little or nothing since signing it.”

The Northwest Regional Development Agency claimed some non-signatories were outperforming those that had signed.

More than 320 English councils have signed the declaration, which commits them to addressing the causes and impact of climate change in line with their local priorities.

Steve Waller, sustainability adviser at the Improvement & Development Agency and author of the declaration, said the strength of the pledge was in the large number of councils that had signed it.

He said: “Some of the early signatories perhaps did not treat it as seriously as some of the later ones because climate change is taken much more seriously now.”

Mr Waller said the partnership is planning to launch a voluntary accreditation scheme. It is likely to start with a form of self assessment with external monitoring introduced later if councils supported it.

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