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Motivating carbon reduction in the UK: the role of local government as an agent of social change

Fudge, S. and Peters, M. (2009) Motivating carbon reduction in the UK: the role of local government as an agent of social change. Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences, 6 (2). pp. 102-120. ISSN 1943-815X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/19438150902732101


In UK policy circles, there is a growing recognition that mediating the interface between policy making and the public through local government led initiatives is one way through which to provide a practicable means to deliver carbon reduction at an individual, household, and community level. Following on from the aims of Local Agenda 21 in creating the space for a more bottom–up policy infrastructure, the 2007 UK Energy White Paper is one of the latest political statements to highlight the way in which reaching UK targets on CO2 emissions will continue to involve a greater local response to climate change. This emphasis was given further weight through the introduction of a new local performance framework in April 2008. This new set of 198 national performance indicators (PIs) for local government and other local bodies are now the only PIs which Central Government will use to assess local government performance. Importantly, they include three PIs that specifically cover the issue of climate change and carbon reduction (CLG 2007a). For many years, local authorities in the UK have played a role in encouraging more community led sustainable development objectives. However, what Giddens (2000) describes as the ‘modernization’ of local governance, has often proved to be inherently problematic, not least in developing the ‘civic engagement’ aspect of this model of governance. The article traces these problems in relation to the increasing responsibilities of local government in developing local community led responses to climate change. Although the UK Government continue to highlight the opportunities for this type of political framework in addressing the bottom–up complexities of climate change, we consider why some of the issues raised in three case study examples are indicative of wider problems in expanding this form of governance in the UK. The article concludes that difficulties encountered with regard to the implementation of LA 21's central objectives have extended through to the more recent focus for action in combating the specific challenge of climate change. More broadly, innovation in the sense of fostering an effective level of civic engagement in sustainable development objectives, continues to remain problematic.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Urban Living group
ID Code:94514
Publisher:Taylor and Francis

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