Regional leaders from 41 local auhtorites have committed to cutting council emissions to ‘net zero’ by 2030, and emissions from their communities by 2045.
However, the cross-party group is calling on the Government to give local authorities more powers, if the ambitious target is to be achieved.
The Greater London Authority, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Liverpool City Council, Newcastle City Council, Sheffield City Region and West Midlands Combined Authority are among those that have made the new pledge, which has been co-ordinated by UK100.
The authorities represent more than 20 million people, almost a third of the UK’s population, including all tiers of local government, all regions in England, and Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “We are proud to be supporting the UK100 Net Zero Pledge and making the case for urgent collective action to tackle the climate emergency.
"With the eyes of the world on the UK ahead of COP26 next year, local authorities can support the Government to set an example for the rest of the world – but we require the funds and flexibility to act quickly and drive the change we need to see."
Manchester is one of several cities that is planning to operate a clean air zone (CAZ). Under the proposals for Manchester's CAZ, the most polluting HGVs, buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles would pay a daily charge to travel in Greater Manchester.
Non-compliant vehicles would start paying the proposed daily charge when the zone launches (expected in spring 2022), with the exception of vans and minibuses, which would start paying in 2023.
The group of cross-party leaders will work together over the coming year to push for more funding and powers from central Government, which will enable them to go even “further and faster” in the journey to net zero, UK100 said.
At the virtual launch of the pledge, Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol City Council, said that becoming carbon neutral by 2030 was “phenomenally challenging” and highlighted the importance of having funding powers at a local government level in order to plan long-term and enact change.
“Until we get more consistency over the kind of financial vehicles that are available to local government, we will be limited in our ability to plan for the future,” he said.
He also stressed collaboration with businesses would be key.
Polly Billington, director of UK100, said: “These ambitious local leaders have pledged to do everything within their power to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible in a way that benefits their communities with new jobs and skills.
“From Edinburgh to Cornwall, local leadership, alongside funding and powers, is key to winning the Race to net zero.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said that the West Midlands Combined Authority is working towards achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2041.
"UK100 offers a fantastic opportunity to work with other local and combined authorities across the UK, creating the policies we need to achieve our emissions target and unleash a green industrial revolution,” he said.