The level of action being taken to reduce greenhouse emissions varies wildly between local authorities, according to a recent report by scientists at Newcastle University.
The research reveals that the ability of cities to combat the cause of climate change and to adapt to future weather patterns is dependent on where you live in the UK, leaving residents in a “postcode lottery of preparedness”.
Topping the list were London and Leicester who scored highly for adaptation and mitigation measures, Wrexham and Derry scored the lowest.
Newcastle University’s Dr Oliver Heidrich said that the research helped shed light on the “state of readiness” across the country, he said: “Of the 30 cities we assessed, all of them acknowledged that climate change was a threat and all except two had a strategy or policy in place to reduce emissions and also adapt to cope better with future weather patterns, in particular flooding”.
However, Dr Heidrich expressed concerns about how serious the cities are in cutting their greenhouse gas emissions, he explained: “A plan is only any good if you implement it and then assess it to see how effective it has been, this requires a long-term investment in the strategies. We found that in many cities this wasn’t happening. In some cases, plans were in place but nothing had been done about them.
“Many cities published plans and partially implemented associated schemes such as introducing electric vehicles or solar panels as well as making changes to the built environment to reduce the risk of flooding. But very often, no-one was monitoring to see whether it made a difference or had actually made things worse.”
The vast majority of cities surveyed had set targets for reducing CO2 emissions, however, a number of those had not committed to an actual target, figure or timescale – a fact that Dr Heidrich argues renders them meaningless.
Dr Heidrich concluded: “What this research highlights more than anything is the huge variations in the state of readiness for climate change across the UK, and the method of assessing the preparedness of cities can easily be applied to cities in other countries.
“Although cities of all sizes across the UK acknowledge climate change is a threat, there is considerable spread of measures in place and huge inconsistency in policy between areas and against national and international targets.
“Local Authorities are pivotal to the implementation of global climate policy so it is essential that we embed adaptation and mitigation strategies within the urban planning framework.”