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How can councils address the climate crisis?

climate-emergency-protest

Local councils across the world have declared climate a emergency.

IT’S THE LOCAL TEAMS who, in practice, are saddled with the burden of tackling the climate emergency now declared by more than 1,000 jurisdictions around the world. Where do they start? How can they identify and prioritise the real challenges?

Climate heating impacts on many areas of citizens’ lives — from health and education, to energy and travel.   Taking transport, for instance: while railways and roads, and even signs and lighting, may all need upgrading, it’s not just about infrastructure. What then are the actual issues at stake? Where should councils direct their scarce resources? How can they make informed decisions?

The universally-recognised Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer a powerful tool for strategic planning. They allow local authorities to examine issues from the point of view of society and the citizens themselves.  The SDGs prompt us to think about the interconnected issues and how government might help manage risk and mitigate impact.

Special Report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in October 2018, describes “enormous harm” that a 2°C average rise in global temperatures is likely to cause, compared with a 1.5°C rise. Yet, it asserts, with concerted ambitious action, it may still be possible to limit heating to the lower threshold.

In November 2018, the major UK cities of Bristol and Manchester declared a climate emergency, setting targets for carbon neutrality. Since then, 19 countries have echoed concern for climate heating with more than 1,000 places covering 224 million citizens.

When a community is hit by a flood, what if children can’t get to school because a bridge has collapsed? In 2005, in an inundated Carlisle, UK, more than 63,000 homes were left without power. Poor people are less likely to be covered by insurance. In a heatwave blamed for 35,000 deaths across Europe in 2003, more women than men over 45-years-old succumbed.

The SDGs prompt us to think about the interconnected issues and how government might help manage risk and mitigate impact.