Devolution is needed to reduce emissions and transition to clean energy sources, report finds

Report highlights how an ambitious devolution deal could bring considerable quality of life benefits for citizens.

Man and woman stood in front of an electric bus looking at the woman's phone

More powers should be given to areas such as the Sheffield City Region to enable them to reduce their carbon emissions and switch to clean energy sources, according to a new report.

The report, published by researchers at the University of Sheffield Energy Institute, is calling for an ambitious programme of devolution to help deliver a complete decarbonisation of local transport and buildings, which is crucial to help cities such as Sheffield meet their emissions targets.

With the climate crisis requiring political action, the University of Sheffield researchers believe an ambitious devolution deal is politically feasible and would bring considerable quality of life benefits for citizens.

Implementing zero carbon transport and heating sources for homes and buildings in places such as Sheffield would improve people’s quality of life through improved air quality, reduced fuel poverty and fewer winter deaths, according to the report.

In domestic and commercial buildings, the report calls for a step change in insulation and a near total move away from gas as a heating fuel.

For transport, the report calls for significant investment in public transport and greater support for the infrastructure needed to provide alternative fuels such as electricity, hydrogen and biogas.

The report calls for investment to support the introduction of alternative fuels for private vehicles as well as for public and commercial transport, which an ambitious programme of devolution could enable.

Authors of the report also highlight how community energy projects can play a key role in reducing emissions. This includes renewable electricity generation and storage, engagement of the public and increased resilience of regional electricity networks in terms of helping to upskill the regional workforce around the need to work with and live within our available resources.

Dr Alastair Buckley, one of the authors of the report from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: "As decarbonisation efforts shift to reducing emissions from buildings and transport, and energy systems become more decentralised, it makes sense that the relevant regulatory powers are devolved to the different regions of the UK.

This might include increasing the powers of regional authorities in terms of planning transport and land use, or it might mean allowing regions to borrow money to invest in local energy resources.”

The report, Sheffield City Region Energy Strategy: University of Sheffield Provocation (PDF, 6.26MB), has been produced by Dr Alastair Buckley, Dr Nick Taylor-Buck, George Coiley, and a group of postgraduate students from the University of Sheffield.

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