We spoke to Susan Halliwell, Co-Chair of ADEPT’s South East Network. She told us about the steps ADEPT are taking to help local authorities take climate action.   

Who are ADEPT and what do they do? 

​ADEPT describes itself as a membership-based organisation providing a bridge between ‘local authority, LEPs and central Government’ [1]. They believe that local leadership is essential to achieve national benefits. ADEPT considers place directors to know which strategies, services and projects will shape their local places and provide the best outcomes for the community [1].  

Susan expanded on this, telling us that at ADEPT “we demonstrate our members’ interests by proactively engaging with central government on emerging policies and issues. ADEPT promotes initiatives that are aimed at influencing government policy through the sharing of best practice and professional networking and development opportunities.” [2]  

She continued, arguing that climate change is at the core of this, placing it as a top priority for the organisation and membership that they are representing. Fundamentally ADEPT is about the place. Local authorities can take both direct actions, as well as act as facilitators to enable change in our local communities. [2] 

[1] Adeptnet.org. About ADEPT [online] [Accessed 10/05/21]

How can local authorities influence climate development? 

Leadership 

With the increasing likelihood that revenue budgets will be stretched, there is a huge opportunity to cut carbon while cutting costs for local authorities. Local authorities have to lead. The first step is to look within the local authority to lead your operations. A lot can be done with local authority buildings, energy consumption through street lighting, opportunities around travel, and buying decisions. [2] 

Enabling  

Local Government can encourage a low carbon future for their area through programmes, policies, and decisions. This can be done through: 

  • Driving local clean energy strategies by supporting renewable energy 
  • Influencing mobility and how the public uses the local transport network. “it is important that local authorities respond to EV or hydrogen vehicles, enabling new technologies and ways to move around. Councils must enable individuals to choose to reduce their carbon footprint” [2] 
  • Promoting a circular economy and influencing waste production strategies  
  • Influencing low carbon development 
  • Finance and investment prioritisation. “Covid has presented new challenges and opportunities to local authorities to understand how you can invest in zero-carbon technologies, for example digital, instead of investing in new roads” [2]. 

Inspiring  

Finally, “local leaders have the opportunity to inspire local business and residents to take climate action themselves”, said Susan. Kickstarting initiatives within the local authorities is a great place to start, utilising themselves as a case study for good practice.  

How can the Government accelerate climate action and a green recovery from coronavirus at the local level? 

ADEPT has put together, alongside Ashden, LEDNet, London Councils and the Local Government Association, ‘A blueprint for accelerating climate action and a green recovery at the local level’ [3].  

The report sets out ‘the national leadership, policies, powers and funding needed to empower local authorities to deliver’ [3].  

Susan explained: 

“The report’s key message is that high carbon activities are not fit for the future. As we emerge from the pandemic there is consistency in green recovery demands, seen through NGO’s, businesses and other bodies. Overall, there is a clear consensus that public money should not be used to go back to business as usual.”  

The paper outlines 5 immediate priorities for ‘how government can accelerate a green recovery while laying the foundations for longer-term solutions to the climate and ecological crises we face’ [3]: 

  1. Creating a joined-up multibillion-pound place based clean infrastructure fund to enable local authorities to invest in a low-carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure​ 
  1. Joining up a national skills fund to support reskilling, retraining and research to accelerate the move to a net-zero economy 
  1. Establishing a national programme to retrofit homes, upgrading homes to ensure they are fit for the future 
  1. Enabling local authorities to facilitate people working flexibly and make it easy for people to walk, cycle or use public transport 
  1. Nature for climate fund – Accelerate tree planting, peatland restoration, green spaces and other green infrastructure, providing additional funding to help councils address current inequalities in access to green spaces  

As well as the blueprint report, ADEPT has been doing a lot of work on what local authorities can do, what they need and how they can bring that together. They have multiple resources such as the climate change hub which pulls together existing information that is already out there. They also have a variety of events and publications

Local Authorities can be instrumental to progress in climate change. Understanding the influence they can have is the first step in making change. 

Sources:

[1] Adeptnet.org. About ADEPT [online] [Accessed 10/05/21]

[2] Halliwell, S., 2020. The Cleaner Greener Local Government Conference  

[3] Adeptnet.org. 2021. A blueprint for accelerating climate action and a green recovery at the local level.  [online] [Accessed 10/05/21]

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We spoke to Susan Halliwell, Co-Chair of ADEPT’s South East Network, about the steps ADEPT are taking to help local authorities take climate action.

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