Going down the local: the challenges of place-based net zero governance

by Tom Bedford, Philip Catney and Zoe Robinson

28 Sep 2023
Journal of the British Academy
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Abstract: Place-based decarbonisation is emerging as a significant element in the UK government’s net zero agenda, specifically through central government devolution deals. Such localised governance has the potential to reap social and economic benefits for communities whilst also potentially delivering on net zero goals. However, pre-existing institutional constraints and unresolved tensions remain, such as the uneven distribution of initiatives across areas and the fiscal limitations within local authorities. These could potentially exacerbate regional inequality rather than promote a just transition.

This report characterises the current governance regimes and challenges to net zero delivery in four parts of the Midlands: Coventry, Nottingham, Leicester and Staffordshire. It highlights variation in local-scale action and identifies the constraints to multi-scalar governance for net zero. It recommends cultivating policy innovation, particularly to align planning with the net zero transition and identifies the potential role of regulatory sandboxes to this end as well as community ownership.

Keywords: Net zero, place-based decarbonisation, multi-scalar governance, policy innovation, regulatory sandboxes, community ownership.

Article posted to the Journal of the British Academy, volume 11, supplementary issue 4 (Governance Factors on the Road to Net Zero)

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