West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin joins regional and city leaders in calling for more powers to hit net zero carbon targets

A communique signed by city and regional leaders from Yorkshire and nationwide is calling on the Government for more devolved powers and resources to hit net zero targets.

The local leaders’ summit, hosted in Birmingham today, is described by its convenors as a “key milestone” ahead of the UK-hosted Cop26 global climate change summit being hosted in Glasgow in November.

It comes against the backdrop of the Government target to get the country to net zero by 2050, with a 78 per cent reduction in emissions by 2035 compared with 1990 levels.

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In the “Delivering a Net Zero UK” communique to Government, 32 cross-party signatories including council leaders and regional mayors are calling for an “enhanced partnership” between local authorities, businesses and Whitehall.

West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin. Photo by Ian Forsyth - WPA Pool /Getty Images)West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin. Photo by Ian Forsyth - WPA Pool /Getty Images)
West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin. Photo by Ian Forsyth - WPA Pool /Getty Images)
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The co-signees, including the mayors of West Yorkshire, London, the West Midlands and Greater Manchester, are asking for locally devolved powers and access to cash and finance with a focus on energy markets, decarbonisation of transport and cutting home and office emissions.

Signatories are asking for a long-term plan and resources for the decarbonisation of new and existing buildings and homes.

They want solutions addressing market failure in energy systems, with a duty to co-operate between public bodies and the companies running energy infrastructure. There is a call to cut high costs of connecting electric vehicle charging networks to the grid, and for a clear target to be added to the Environment Bill, to reverse the decline in species and habitats by 2030.

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Signatories also want to make sure the UK Infrastructure Bank in Leeds has a net zero mandate to deliver local investment in qualifying projects and a Net Zero Local Powers Bill, governing councils’, cities’ and regions’ roles and responsibilities in working to climate change targets.

Tracy Brabin, Labour Mayor of West Yorkshire, who signed the message alongside Leeds city council leader James Lewis, said: “Local leaders need the powers to tackle the climate emergency. Working with other UK100 members, we have a bold ambition to make West Yorkshire a net-zero carbon economy by 2038, with significant progress by 2030.

“We’re up for the challenge, but we need a new devolution settlement before the climate change summit in Glasgow in November. With the world watching, the Government has a huge opportunity to unlock the potential of local and regional authorities to deliver Net Zero.”

A report by UK100, the summit’s co-convenor which represents more than 100 council leaders, has also suggested the shift to a green economy could create half a million new jobs across the country.

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The message to Government is being released as Ministers, 40 mayors and council leaders from across the UK, alongside leaders from 22 global cities, participate in the online conference.

The International Net Zero Local Leadership Summit is also being addressed by Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, who said getting hundreds of the world’s cities and regions directly involved in cutting carbon was a “critical milestone in a race to a carbon-free, net zero world”.

MP Alok Sharma, in charge of the Cop26 summit, and Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng will also address attendees.

Ahead of the conference, Andy Street, Conservative mayor of the West Midlands and summit co-convenor, said: "We're asking ministers to give us the powers and the funding to do more. We want to work hand-in-glove with Government to accelerate the drive to net zero."

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Ahead of the summit, Polly Billington, UK100's chief, said: "We need a power shift from central government to local communities to tackle climate change."

Mr Garcetti, chair of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, is expected to tell the conference that cities, which produce more than 60% of global emissions, would be well-placed to make progress towards net zero.

"The climate crisis isn't limited by any municipal boundary or national border, so our solutions can't be limited either," he will say.

"Our goal is simple - to mobilise at least 1,000 cities ahead of Cop26 to commit to doing their fair share to cut global emissions in half by 2030.

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"We need help from national and international leaders to turn climate plans into climate reality.

"Without the necessary support we'll miss the opportunity to leverage the real power of cities, to drive the national and global climate action on which our planet's future depends.

"My hope is today will be an opportunity to turbo-charge these efforts to continue to increase local and regional collaboration and make clear the critical support of governments to advance our vision and deliver an equitable low-carbon recovery from this pandemic."

Mr Sharma, the MP for Reading West, is expected to tell the summit cities "are vital" to meeting the Paris Agreement climate change targets.

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He will say: "We're urging all cities and regions to join the Race to Zero - the United Nations' campaign to reach net zero by 2050 at the latest.

"I'm proud that cities and councils from all over the United Kingdom have signed up from Newcastle to Nottingham, from Cambridge to Cornwall, and of course, the West Midlands."