City councils told to ‘be bold’ on climate action
Leaders in local government have been urged to “be bold” when it comes to driving forward policy decisions that will help tackle climate change at the local level.
The call came from Holyrood’s COP26 fringe festival event on building sustainable, resilient cities.
Glasgow councillor Ricky Bell urged other cities to put in place a plan for how to reach net zero, adding: “People are sometimes so afraid by the absolutely colossal change in how cities are run.”
Glasgow is aiming to become a net zero city by 2030, requiring £30bn investment.
Bell, who is the city’s treasurer, admitted he had “no idea” where the cash will come from but that did not mean the council should not be bold in its planning.
He said: “We need to start looking at problems in a different way. Often starting with what you want the outcome to be and then working back from that will provide a more intelligent solution.”
Irene Beautyman, place and wellbeing partnership lead at the Improvement Service, said being bold required local councillors to be “brave”.
Highlighting that a low traffic neighbourhood proposal in her own area was not supported following consultation, she added: “Sometimes the consultation needs to be bolder. Instead of ‘do you want a low traffic neighbourhood?’ you say ‘how would you like your low traffic neighbourhood to look?’”
But she also warned the cuts to local government budgets in recent years was limiting councils’ abilities to respond to the massive changes required by the climate crisis.
“We need to have a properly resourced layer of government that can be leading on these issues,” she said.
Georgia Yexley from TIER added: “One of the biggest failures in cities is not being bold or fast enough in taking the opportunities in implementing new sustainable systems. Moves are often made so slowly and cautiously that the purpose of the changes are lost.”