More than a third of councillors (36%) say they’re not confident their council can meet net zero emissions targets, according to a new survey.
The Demos/Survation survey, commissioned by Icebreaker One, polled 1,061 UK councillors to understand how well councils are responding to the climate and economic crises.
The results suggest that a ‘black hole’ in the data held by and available to local authorities is threatening their ability to respond to the Covid-19 economic crisis, as well as meet net zero targets.
The poll found that:
- 89% of councillors said their council had a stated aim to reach net zero carbon emissions.
- But 38% said they are not confident they have sufficient information to make informed decisions to reach net zero emissions.
- 43% said they are not confident they have sufficient information to make informed decisions on their local Covid-19 economic recovery.
The survey also found that whilst councils most frequently consult their own data (73%), nearly 50% (48%) also rely on private sector data to inform decisions around achieving net zero.
When asked what councils should focus on to achieve both economic growth and net zero emissions, the most popular option was making homes more energy efficient. 91% of councillors polled said it was a high priority. Planting trees (84%) and investing in greener transport like cycle lanes and public transport (76%) were next most popular.
Councils who want to deliver net zero and reboot the economy are struggling with a data black hole that makes it close to impossible to make decisions.
Gavin Starks, Founder and CEO of Icebreaker One, said: “Councils who want to deliver net zero and reboot the economy are struggling with a data black hole that makes it close to impossible to make decisions. We need to kick-start the post-Covid-19 economy, but net zero targets can’t get trampled in the rush to rebuild. Giving councils access to the right data means they can gain insights to do both.
“We’ll only reach net zero and rebuild local economies after Covid-19 if councils make bold decisions that create jobs and cut emissions. Looking at these numbers, no-one would envy councillors forced to make once-in-a-generation decisions with so little useful data to hand.
“Take electric vehicles. Installing charging points would be a smart decision for a local council: they create jobs, reduce air pollution and cut emissions. But councils need to know if there’s enough surplus energy in the local grid to power them – and too often, they need to battle hard to find that data— there are both data gaps and data holes.
“Icebreaker One is developing tools and plans for the data infrastructure – unlocking data discovery, access and sharing – we need. It’s time to address this data emergency so that investors and policy-makers can identify key decisions, like investing in energy efficiency or electric vehicles, that drive growth and cut emissions.”
The poll comes after a recent report released by Green Alliance suggested councils were finding it difficult to go green due to skills and funding shortages, combined with a ‘lack of wider support from central government’.