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Research Article

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

Tom BedfordTom Bedford

Tom Bedford is the net zero and smart energy training manager at Keele University. Tom has research interests in the net zero transition, place-based decarbonisation and the challenges and solutions to net zero in the West Midlands. Tom has worked specifically in Staffordshire, considering its role in the net zero transition and potential opportunities in particular how communities can be engaged.

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Philip CatneyPhilip Catney

Dr Philip Catney is a senior lecturer in Politics at Keele University. Phil’s research is particularly focused on urban regeneration, environmental planning and the politics of community engagement. He has published in numerous internationally ranked journals. He has been the principal investigator or co-investigator for various UKRI-funded projects on urban and environmental policy.

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Zoe Robinson§Zoe Robinson§§

Professor Zoe Robinson is a Professor of Sustainability in Higher Education and Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at Keele University. Professor Robinson is a Sustainability Scientist with 17 years of experience around sustainability transformations, working across the natural and social sciences boundaries, and a background of working in sustainability and climate change education, community engagement and supporting Local Authorities and other organisations around climate change and energy transitions. Professor Robinson is currently leading research on user and community-centric design approaches to smart local energy system design and place-based decarbonisation and consumer perceptions of low carbon energy technologies including perceptions of blended hydrogen in domestic settings.

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 zeroplace-based decarbonisationmulti-scalar governancepolicy innovationregulatory sandboxescommunity ownership
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Published on: 28 September 2023
Volume: 11
Issue: Supplementary issue 4
Article ID: 125
Pages:125 - 156
Copyright statement
© The author(s) 2023.
Cite this article
Bedford with Catney, Robinson (2023), ' Going down the local: the challenges of place-based net zero governance ', Journal of the British Academy, 11(Supplementary issue 4): 125 https://doi.org/10.5871/jba/011s4.125

Thematic article

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

Tom BedfordTom Bedford

Tom Bedford is the net zero and smart energy training manager at Keele University. Tom has research interests in the net zero transition, place-based decarbonisation and the challenges and solutions to net zero in the West Midlands. Tom has worked specifically in Staffordshire, considering its role in the net zero transition and potential opportunities in particular how communities can be engaged.

,
Philip CatneyPhilip Catney

Dr Philip Catney is a senior lecturer in Politics at Keele University. Phil’s research is particularly focused on urban regeneration, environmental planning and the politics of community engagement. He has published in numerous internationally ranked journals. He has been the principal investigator or co-investigator for various UKRI-funded projects on urban and environmental policy.

,
Zoe Robinson§Zoe Robinson§§

Professor Zoe Robinson is a Professor of Sustainability in Higher Education and Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at Keele University. Professor Robinson is a Sustainability Scientist with 17 years of experience around sustainability transformations, working across the natural and social sciences boundaries, and a background of working in sustainability and climate change education, community engagement and supporting Local Authorities and other organisations around climate change and energy transitions. Professor Robinson is currently leading research on user and community-centric design approaches to smart local energy system design and place-based decarbonisation and consumer perceptions of low carbon energy technologies including perceptions of blended hydrogen in domestic settings.