October 2011: The authors of some valuable new research have outlined in the following article the huge potential for councils to link efforts to combat climate change with the need to kick-start economic growth and create decent employment. The new green team: Local government, sustainable energy, jobs and skills was launched last week, produced by the Association for Public Service Excellence (Apse) for Unison.
The report presents a survey of officers and elected members in councils across the UK and found that a hugely positive attitude towards sustainable energy projects exists in local government.
An overwhelming 99% of respondents said this would reduce their energy costs and 94% think there is an urgent need for such projects. And 82% believe the public in their area would be supportive of a high profile emphasis on sustainability and jobs growth through renewable energy and energy efficiency schemes.
There are a number of all too real obstacles to achieving the full potential of sustainable energy at present however. For a start, the majority of respondents do not believe sufficient skills exist to respond to sustainable energy opportunities – and only 12% think the national skills development programme is moving rapidly enough to equip people to meet green economy opportunities.
Local government leadership is also crucial. A total of 79% of survey respondents believe councils should have a direct delivery as well as a facilitation role in sustainable energy projects.