Local Carbon Budgets

It is always welcome news when a member of cabinet praises us for one of our campaigns (In this case Get Serious). “I congratulate Friends of the Earth on their campaign which has helped build pressure from the grassroots upwards,” from John Denham (Secretary of State for Local Government).

This pat on the back coincides with the announcement by John Denham that local carbon frameworks are to be piloted throughout ten areas. The areas in question shall receive government help to develop climate change strategies. While this is greatly encouraging, we still believe that this does not go far enough to tackle the problem presented by climate change.

That is why Friends of the Earth is calling for local carbon budgets for every council.  That’s a budget limiting how much carbon a local area can emit.  Birmingham City Council and a number of other councils have signed up to reduce carbon emissions by at least 40% by 2020 (in the case of Birmingham, 60% by 2026). However, there are still a number of councils that have yet to sign up to any such targets. Action is needed to guarantee that all councils will limit the amount of CO2 they emit, for individual councils will not be able to opt out of the impacts of runaway climate change. Furthermore, these budgets must be set in line with the best scientific evidence, not what is politically convenient.

For action by each and every council is vital if the UK’s climate change targets are to be met. In addition, a study by Friends of the Earth has demonstrated that councils as diverse as Hampshire, Tower Hamlets and Middlesbrough could all reduce their emissions by at least 40% by 2020 (see ref1). There can be no excuses that certain types of council will not be able to cut their emissions by the requisite amount.

A reduction in CO2 emissions will also positively benefit the local community, through the creation of green jobs, a boost in the local economy and not to mention the resultant reduction in fuel bills (which I suspect all of us shall welcome).

To help implement these local carbon budgets, Friends of the Earth is urging everyone to contact their local MP and ask for the introduction of local carbon budgets  to make sure every council does its bit in to help mitigate the impacts of climate change.


For those of you who do not know how to find your local MP go to http://www.writetothem.com and simply type in your postcode. What’s more …. if you can personalise this letter it will have an even bigger impact. For example, you could name your council and mention any good things or bad things it has done to tackle emissions
1.Burgess et al (2009) Pathways to 40% Carbon Reductions by 2020 Modelling report: Hampshire, Tower Hamlets and Middlesbrough.

Richard Sagar