Half of UK councils not confident of meeting self-imposed net zero targets, survey finds

Senior figures in local government doubt its authorities are on track to meet net zero targets, a new survey by E.ON and the Local Government Chronicle has shown.

Fewer than half of those questioned as part of the survey (47%) agreed with the statement ‘I am confident my council is on track to deliver against its net zero targets’, despite the fact almost nine in ten (87%) said their council had set a deadline for its operations to become net zero.

75% of respondents said their councils had also set a date for their geographical areas to achieve the same. 

E.ON says the new data, featuring responses from chief executives and director-level officers at authorities around the UK, shines a light on the attitudes and aspirations of senior figures on net zero targets and what can be done to help communities lead greener lives.

92% of survey respondents agree all new build housing should be built to a net zero standard.

Chief Executive of E.ON UK, Michael Lewis, said: “Councils are responsible for decisions that can drive decarbonisation across whole communities, which puts them at the sharp end of achieving net zero by 2050. It’s great to see an ambition to create a greener future but there will be a concern that confidence is fairly low in whether our local authorities can achieve these ambitions.

“Our survey shows what’s lacking are the next steps in exactly how we get to a low carbon society. That starts with improving the energy efficiency of existing homes, swapping gas boilers for heat pumps, developing a greater role for district heating schemes in urban areas, and inspiring people to switch from petrol and diesel to electric vehicles.”

64% of respondents, whose councils had set a target date for their operations to become net zero, said 2030 was the target date, with only 7% naming a shorter timescale. The latest date given was 2050, chosen by 12%.

When asked about their wider geographical area, councils said they were allowing more time to meet net zero goals. 47% said their council was aiming for 2030 at the earliest and 24% said their council was aiming for 2050, in line with the UK government’s target.

Labour MP for Nottingham North and Shadow Minister for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government, Alex Norris, said: “I applaud local government leaders who have worked hard to drive up heat pump use and make sure their councils are fit for a greener future.

“Making the switch to heat pumps is critical for the country to meet our emissions targets.”

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