UK must promote local industrial strategies in net-zero push

Two leading think tanks have called on the government to fast-track more local industrial strategies in order to help regions move to a zero-carbon economy and aid the UK’s push towards net-zero by 2050.

In a new report, Localis and Green Alliance have warned areas with the greatest need of economic revival are at risk of missing out because of the slow rollout of local industrial strategies.

Local industrial strategies were first put forward by the government in November 2017, with the Government pledging to prioritise areas with the ‘potential to drive wider regional growth’ at the time.

Seven local industrial strategies have been published since then, namely West Midlands, Greater Manchester, West of England, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and South East Midlands.

The report calls on the government to reaffirm its commitment to local industrial strategies with clean, climate-resilient growth at their core.

It recommends giving local and combined authorities more powers to mandate greener building projects, contrary to the government’s renewed threat to ban them from doing so, while also arguing that councils should be able to use council tax and business rates to meet clean growth objectives.

The joint report also proposes that a proportion of the forthcoming UK Shared Prosperity Fund is ring-fenced for projects that enable clean growth by, for instance, supporting the grid infrastructure needed to expand renewable energy or improving public transport.

Roz Bulleid, Green Alliance’s head of policy, believes that the impact of the climate challenges facing us are acutely felt at the local level.

“Some areas could lose jobs in high carbon industries while others are benefiting from new opportunities such as offshore wind,” she said.

“ Local policy makers should be building clean growth into the heart of their economic strategies to attract the industries of the future and ensure local resilience in a world increasingly affected by climate change.”

The head of research at Localis, Joe Fyans, added: “The clean growth challenge is to make the best use of local resources and powers to drive change across the country and at a much more rapid rate than previously.”

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