The Future Is Local: The Local Mission Zero Network Report

The Rt Hon Chris Skidmore OBE MP, Ben Houchen, Baron Houchen of High Leven
Mission Zero Coalition
Built environment
Homes & Buildings
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Clean Air
Finance Logo UK100
Financing the Transition
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Local Powers
Decarbonising Transport
26 SEPTEMBER, LONDON — UK100 welcomes the new The Future Is Local report from the Local Mission Zero Network, of which we are a member. The report is co-authored by the Government’s former Net Zero Tsar, Chris Skidmore OBE MP and the Mayor of Tees Valley, Ben Houchen.

The report, a follow-up to the Government-commissioned Independent Review of Net Zero, Mission Zero, reasserts the need for “a local big bang” on Net Zero and assesses the progress of ambitious local and regional authorities driving Net Zero progress in their communities. It also details the barriers stopping local leaders from realising their ambitions.

The Future Is Local sets out over 30 recommendations to advance the local delivery of Net Zero, grouped into five overarching themes and key recommendations:

  1. Introduce a Local Net Zero Charter to agree responsibilities and enhance partnership between the UK government, devolved governments and regional, city and local authorities.
  2. Hasten the adoption, consistency, and success of Local Area Energy Plans across the UK.
  3. Develop a local Net Zero Delivery Framework to enable collaboration between UK Government and local and regional authorities, using The Local Net Zero Forum.
  4. Simplify and enhance the Net Zero funding and financing landscape to support local and regional authorities with longer-term certainty, while also enabling effective public-private partnerships that can unlock inward investment.
  5. Commence an urgent review in 2023, of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to ensure that the NPPF is better aligned to the scale and urgency of the Net Zero, nature recovery and adaptation challenges.

UK100 worked closely with Chris Skidmore MP and Ben Houchen to support the production of The Future Is Local, attending each roundtable evidence session and facilitating members of the UK100 network to feed directly into the report.

The recommendations echo UK100’s own Powers in Place report which found local authorities face “Kafkaesque” barriers to achieving Net Zero goals. Powers in Place called for funding reform and a new Net Zero Local Powers Bill and Net Zero Delivery Framework.

Welcoming the report, Christopher Hammond, UK100’s Chief Executive, says: 

"Chris Skidmore and Lord Houchen's The Future Is Local report couldn't be more timely. With the Prime Minister signalling a watering down of national Net Zero action, the ambitious local and regional authority-led climate action spotlighted in this report is only becoming more vital.

"Climate action is a responsibility that local government is ready to take on. However, with great responsibility should come great power. Or at least adequate power. Yet, at the moment, local and regional authorities are delivering despite a "kafkaesque" Net Zero regulatory framework and disjointed, short-term, competitive funding. Net Zero offers so much local and regional economic growth potential. To unleash it, Ministers need to heed the recommendations in this report and empower local authorities to lead the way. The future is local.”

Chris Skidmore OBE MP concludes: 

"In too many discussions about the UK's Net Zero commitments, the vital role of local and regional government is overlooked. Against a backdrop of wavering central government support, councils and regions are already leading the way on climate action, with many aiming to deliver Net Zero ahead of national targets.

"The Local Mission Zero Network's first report, The Future Is Local, sets out over thirty recommendations to further the Net Zero Review's local delivery mission. It's clear that if central government won't step up, it should get out of the way and allow local and regional leaders to forge ahead with their positive vision to achieve local Net Zero in partnership with communities up and down the country. Unleashing their ambition is the most effective way to harness the economic and regional growth opportunities that Net Zero can unlock."

The Future Is Local is the first of a series of new reports due to be published by the Mission Zero Coalition. You can sign up to attend the launch event at 08:00 on Wednesday, 26 September, here.

On Thursday, 28 September, the coalition will launch its Mission Retrofit report. Decarbonising our built environment, as the original Mission Zero report set out, remains one of the greatest challenges to Britain hitting Net Zero. Mission Retrofit will be the first of two reports that will focus specifically on decarbonising existing buildings, with a second report on new buildings in preparation for October.

You can sign up to attend the launch here.