English Local Authorities and the Fight against Climate Change

Hugh Atkinson


The outcome of the 1992 Rio Summit (in particular Agenda 21 and the Convention on Climate Change), and
subsequent international agreements right through to Rio+ 20 have set the context within which political leaders
have sought to address the issues of climate change and sustainability. Local Agenda 21(LA21) set out a broad
range of both responsibilities and opportunities for local government to tackle climate change.
This paper looks at the effects of the LA 21 strategies of a number of English local authorities. In particular, it
focuses on whether such strategies have had a substantial impact on tackling climate change and promoting
sustainability or if they are examples of what might be termed policy symbolism.
There will be a focus on the extent to which local communities have been active in shaping the policy agenda.
Such a process of involvement is essential for sustainable, healthy and inclusive local communities as well as
creating a dynamic local polity.
The paper will argue that in attempting to tackle climate change and promote sustainability, English local
authorities are faced with both opportunities and constraints. How they grasp the opportunities and overcome the
constraints is dependent on both their willingness to engage in a meaningful way with their own local
communities, as well as effectively managing their own political resources.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/jms.v3n3p46


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Journal of Management and Sustainability   ISSN 1925-4725 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4733 (Online)   E-mail: jms@ccsenet.org


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