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Liberal Democrats

F34: COP27 and Climate Empowerment for Local Government

Motion as amended Passed by Conference

Proposed by: ALDC

Mover: Cllr Pippa Heylings.

Summation: To be announced.


Conference notes that:

  1. The UK’s net zero targets can only be achieved if Government and local authorities work seamlessly together. While local authorities have limited direct control over emissions, they have powers or influence over approximately a third of local area emissions.
  2. As place-shapers, only local government holds the wide range of delivery powers and assets – and the potential for market and nonmarket mechanisms to finance action at scale – that are necessary to decarbonise housing, transport, waste and generate nature-based solutions.
  3. As leaders of local communities, councils can mobilise the collective action to achieve net zero in our villages, towns, and cities.
  4. Local authorities will be particularly important in ensuring a just transition to net zero as no layer of government is closer to people or better able to tailor climate action to meet the needs of local communities and deliver a transition that benefits all communities.

Conference welcomes:

  1. The inclusion within the Preamble to the Glasgow Climate Pact of the UN COP26 recognising ‘the urgent need for multilevel and cooperative action’ throughout levels of government, as a result of Liberal Democrat leadership in and through the national cross-party Climate Change Task Group of the Local Government Association (LGA) working with partners in global advocacy and international coordination for local authorities.
  2. The obligation on all countries to report on an annual basis on climate commitments and increase their climate ambition through increased targets at COP27 in November 2022.

Conference acknowledges with concern that:

  1. Whilst the National Audit Commission’s July 2021 report recognises the importance of local government to net zero, it concludes that “there are serious weaknesses in central government’s approach to working with local authorities on decarbonisation”.
  2. The UK’s climate pledge to COP26, its National Determined Contribution submitted in December 2020 was almost silent on the role and details of local government contribution towards its net zero targets.
  3. In 2021, local government was not actively consulted in the development of the UK’s Net Zero Strategy.
  4. Whilst the UK’s Net Zero Strategy promises to support “all local government in developing and delivering their net zero delivery plans”, it does not provide any clarity as to how action at national, regional, local, and community levels fits together.
  5. The Net Zero Strategy promises to establish a Local Net Zero Forum to ensure direct input from local leaders, however, the Forum has yet to be convened.

Conference therefore calls on the UK Government to:

  1. Set a global example by providing the powers and resources necessary for enhanced climate action by local government in theDrive multilevel coordination by convening the Net Zero Forum. UK’s updated NDC for COP27.
  2. Drive multilevel coordination by convening the Net Zero Forum.
  3. Develop a fiscal and policy framework establishing the roles and responsibilities of local and central government to deliver and report on net zero and climate adaptation priorities.
  4. Engage local government in the drafting of the National Adaptation Plan (2023-2028), implementing recommendations from the National Committee on Climate Change).
  5. Establish a plan ahead of the Spending Review for funding local authority climate action, simplifying and consolidating the number of local net zero funding streams so that councils can plan and attract investment longer-term.
  6. Clarify what role DLUHC will play in supporting local authority climate action given that the Net Zero Strategy establishes BEIS as responsible for coordination.
  7. Lead on climate empowerment (ACE), involving young people, local communities and non-governmental actors in climate decisionmaking, education programmes, and action.

Applicability: England only; except 1. (lines 47–49), 5. (lines 57–60) and 7. (lines 64–66), which are Federal.


Mover: 7 minutes; summation of motion and movers and summation of any amendments: 4 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes.

For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 9. To submit a speaker’s card go to: www.libdems.org.uk/speakers-card.

The deadline for amendments to this motion is 13.00, Monday 28 February; see page 12. Amendments selected for debate will be published in the Conference Extra and Sunday Conference Daily updates to the Conference Agenda.

The deadline for requests for separate votes is 09.00 Saturday 12 March; see page 9.


The FCC has agreed to make the following drafting amendment to the motion:

In C. (line 12), after ‘cities’ insert ‘and can convene local employers and education providers to develop green jobs and skills’.

In 5. (line 60), after ‘longer-term’ insert ‘, and secure local green skills and jobs’.

After 6. (line 63), insert:

7. Ensure that DLUHC is represented on the Green Jobs Delivery Group, and that local government is represented on the Green Jobs Taskforce.