A new report demonstrates the many benefits the UK economy can reap from the immediate actions taken by local authorities to address climate change.
The research was led by the Centre for Sustainability, Equality and Climate Action at Queen’s University Belfast and the Place-Based Climate Action Network for UK100.
The report’s key finding is that investment in climate action at local level would see more than 800,000 green jobs in the UK by 2030, rising up to 1.38million total jobs by 2050.
It also found that for every £1 invested in climate mitigation and protecting communities from the impacts of extreme weather events, a further £9 is saved.
It provides cross-sector insight on how investment in local climate action can lead directly to emission reductions. However, it can also create high quality green jobs, significant economic co-benefits, and level up areas throughout the UK as we recover from the Covid-19 epidemic.
It provides a solid evidence base that demonstrates that net-zero transformation is possible and that inaction can have huge consequences.
It also considers the benefits of these benefits in the context to rebuilding after the Covid-19 epidemic and the effects the public health emergency had on local authorities, finances, and local economies throughout the UK.
The climate crisis must be addressed
John Barry, professor of green political economy at Queen’s University and lead researcher on the report, said:
“It is in the very difficult context of Covid-19 that local authorities must consider the meaningful, lasting and interrelated benefits of decarbonising across all sectors, confronting the climate crisis, and harnessing the economic opportunities of local climate action.
This economic shift can provide significant social and economic advantages for our society.
“If done correctly, and in the time frame suggested by climate science, we cannot only avoid the worst consequences of climate change but capitalise on the huge economic and other co-benefits of urgent transformative climate action at scale.
Avoiding rising costs of climate impacts is one of the strongest economic arguments in the report.
The report highlights the estimated annual cost of floods in the UK has reached £340 million, and is expected to rise to £428 million if global temperatures rise by 2°, reaching £619 million if post-industrial warming reaches 4°.
Seán Fearon, co-author of the report and researcher at Queen’s, added:
A primary aim of this report was an attempt to change the perception of climate action among local authorities as a ‘cost’ or as an unaffordable ‘burden’.
“In fact, tackling the climate crisis through our councils can be the main vehicle for meaningful and positive change in our communities, creating a healthier and more inclusive society, and more democratic local economies which prioritise decent jobs and environmental well-being.”