The majority of local governments within the UK have declared a climate emergency. However, getting climate action prioritised can be a challenge amongst other competing objectives such as health, job creation and transport. Co-benefits could be key to delivering climate action.

Co-benefits of climate action

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change describes co-benefits as ‘the positive effects that a policy or measure aimed at one objective might have on other objectives.’ Recognising co-benefits can promote collaboration across departments and encourages all departments to engage in climate action. 

In a paper by Dr Neil Jennings, Dr Daniela Fecht and Dr Sara De Matteis of Imperial College, they explore the co-benefits of climate action across four areas: health and the NHS; immigration and security; the economy and unemployment; and poverty, housing and inequality. 

They found that only 10% of the UK public felt pollution and the environment were a concern. Whereas, 48% felt that health and the NHS were a top priority. They determined that climate action needs to be framed in context with co-benefits of perceived higher priority areas. They go on to say:

city- and regional-level governments are best-placed to incorporate co-benefits into the decision-making process

Jennings, Fecht and De Matteis 2019

Tackling climate change has many widespread co-benefits. For example, the transport department might reduce air pollution by promoting a transition to electric vehicles and a switch from car usage to public and active transport (e.g. walking, cycling). This would not only combat climate change, it would also have multiple benefits for public health. The transport, health and environmental departments could work together and collaborate on funding.

It is essential that the co-benefits of policies are considered to deliver climate action faster. Jennings, Fecht and De Matteis share that tools are needed to help identify these co-benefits. To read the full Imperial College paper, click here.

The Net Zero Navigator Tool

Connected Places Catapult have created the Net Zero Navigator tool and have collaborated with OnePlanet to integrate the tool with a OnePlanet ecosystem solution. The Net Zero Navigator was produced in partnership with Space Syntax, SCATTER, Expedition, CDP and Useful Projects. The tool is designed to support local authorities in engaging members and partners with delivering climate action.  

The Net Zero Navigator outlines interventions and prioritises them depending on the characteristics of the specific local authority. The chosen interventions are then exported into the OnePlanet platform and are attached to their relevant co-benefits. Highlighting the co-benefits within a climate strategy helps other departments see the interconnections with their strategies. This encourages all departments to prioritise climate actions and co-operate on budgets instead of competing for them. 

To watch a short Introduction to the Net Zero Navigator tool, click here

If you are a local authority and would like to sign up to the tool, click here

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