Cllr Claire Holland is the Leader of Lambeth Council and a councillor in Oval ward.
Earlier this month, I attended COP-26 as a member of The Local Government Association and London Councils delegations, to showcase the climate action we are already taking here in Lambeth and in our villages, towns, and cities. It was fantastic to hear about initiatives from across the UK and the international community, and what excited me the most is the leadership local government, working with our communities, is showing throughout the world. We have the passion, the people, the know-how and commitment to make the change needed. And whilst national leaders struggle to reach agreement even on the basics, local leaders and local communities are getting on with the urgent task in hand.
We know that those who cause the least emissions suffer the worst impacts of climate change from fuel poverty to crop failure through extreme weather events. So, as we tackle the crisis, it is vital we reduce inequality at the same time, both within our cities and neighbourhoods, and also across borders and between the north and global south. It is vital we don’t just shift the problem elsewhere. Our partnerships are key to this, and the benefits of that city-to-city collaboration, from London and Paris to Bogota and Buenos Aires came through powerfully in our discussions and events at COP-26. The message was clear: collaboration for a just transition is essential to ensure we don’t exacerbate existing inequalities.
Global ambition cannot be realised without local action. Only local government leadership can mobilise and join up collective action in the real world of delivery. But Local Government across the UK and beyond expressed universal frustration at the gaps in national government support: gaps in powers, policy, capacity, and funding, which hold us back from going further and faster.
But where national governments are failing, local government is stepping up and continues to innovate. Just one example at COP-26 was the London Councils, Core Cities and Catapult launch of their collaborative Climate Investment Commission report which sets out the economic case for investing rapidly in the decarbonisation of our neighbourhoods, to unlock the potential of investment to transition our city, our borough, to net zero and support us in our work of creating resilient, thriving communities.
We came to COP-26 to make the case for how vital it is that genuine partnership at all levels of government, national and international, regional, and local is recognised as key to tackling the climate crisis. I feel energised by the commitment and innovation happening locally across our communities through multi-level partnerships: city to city, residents to businesses, rural communities to towns. It is time for national government to step and learn from local communities and the actions we are taking. We will continue to collaborate and work further and faster. We just hope our government listens and does likewise too.
Cllr Claire Holland