Net zero and devolution

Think tank: Institute for Government

Author(s): Alex Nice; Tom Sasse

February 2, 2023

This report from UK think tank the Institute for Government looks at the role of England’s mayors in the climate transition.

This report calls on the UK government to put England’s mayors at the heart of its net zero strategy and give England’s locally elected leaders the powers and funding to become trailblazers in transitioning to a green economy. It says the UK government’s current top-down approach to net zero has hamstrung locally elected mayors’ efforts to deliver net zero. England’s mayors, and the authorities they lead, have the potential to play a big role in decarbonising the UK economy. They can take a strategic approach on a regional level to some of the most challenging parts of the net zero strategy: retrofitting homes, promoting low-carbon travel, and ensuring workers have the skills to meet the needs of the green economy. But England’s mayors currently have no formal role in the UK’s net zero strategy, receive little funding to work specifically on net zero objectives, and have little clarity about long-term funding in key areas like housing and transport. At the same time, stop-start policy making in Whitehall has undermined consumer confidence and business investment. With the UK government required to produce an updated net zero strategy by March 2023, the report sets out a series of recommendations designed to integrate mayors into the UK’s net zero strategy and give them the powers to help deliver it.