Friends Of Carbon Copy: ADEPT

by Ric Casale

Friends Of Carbon Copy: ADEPT

Carbon Copy is delighted to have the support of the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT), who represent Place Directors from county and unitary authorities across England, along with directors of Local Enterprise Partnerships and key private sector organisations. ADEPT members are at the very heart of delivering clean sustainable growth, delivering projects that are fundamental to creating more resilient communities, local economies and infrastructure.

A milestone was reached last year as an increasing number of principal councils across the U.K. declared a climate emergency until half of all principal councils had acknowledged the environment and climate crisis and made a commitment to take action locally. The UK is the first country in the world to reach this milestone. To date, the proportion is over two-thirds and the number continues to rise. Even more outstanding is their ambition: the majority of these councils have declared a target date of 2030 to achieve net-zero carbon emissions locally, twenty years ahead of the national 2050 target.

The difference between government at the county, unitary and metropolitan levels and at national level is that action takes place at the local level. The impact of climate change is intensely place-based and local councils know that they are on the frontline, first to experience trends and first responders in a crisis. Not so big that they cannot respond to residents, but not so small that they cannot tackle the scale of the changes, local authorities have the ability to reshape their surroundings and bring people along with them.

We shape the places where we live, and then they shape us. For example, compact urban development has emerged as the lodestone for shaping sustainable towns and cities. This compact model is based on relatively high residential density with mixed land uses and an efficient, low-carbon public transport system. Such places are “compact, connected and co-ordinated”. In turn, they shape the behaviour of those who live there: the design reduces energy consumption and pollution; the layout encourages walking and cycling and reduces dependency on private vehicles; the short distances reduces the need for so much urban infrastructure and land use.

At the same time, there is no sustainability without diverse and inclusive places where we live, for us to share our finite resources more humanely. The public realm has two roles: it embodies the common good and is the dwelling place of our civic life. It takes many different forms, from market squares to pedestrian streets to pocket parks in local neighbourhoods. These public spaces are the connective tissue of communal life and have a profound impact on the strength of our community resilience and collective action.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on how we think about the places where we live. The coronavirus crisis is a catalyst for more decentralisation, not less: for strengthening local centres so that they are better equipped to look after their local populations; for bringing more services within arm’s reach to avoid travelling long distances; for reviving the local high street and the public realm so people can support with each other where they live. Such changes will result in a more sustainable way of life and more resilient communities.

We look forward to showcasing the low-carbon initiatives that ADEPT members are working on. Our aim is for more people to engage in similar projects and spark more collaboration within and across local areas. Our plan is to level the playing field by giving everyone access to ideas from the frontrunners. Our hope is that all local councils will make the same commitment to take urgent action on the climate emergency.

Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

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