Morley town hall

Why local elections matter

This May, a series of elections are taking place across England and Wales. Find out why local government matters in the fight against climate breakdown.
  Published:  22 Feb 2021    |      2 minute read

What is local government?

Local government, or local authority, is a general term used to describe the team of decision-makers responsible for services in your area. There are 343 local authorities in England, made up of:

  • county councils
  • district councils
  • unitary authorities
  • metropolitan districts
  • London boroughs.

Why is local government important?

We believe the best places to live and work are those where local people have a say in what works best for them and the environment.

Local government plays a massive role in this – from responsibilities over recycling to road schemes and home energy. It has the authority to vote against climate-wrecking projects, like mines, and is critical to tackling big issues such as climate breakdown. What's more, local government represents people at a local level.

It's partly through our work with different tiers of government that millions of people now live in areas that have declared themselves free from genetically-modified food and farming. But there's so much more we can achieve by working closely with decision-makers.

Local government and climate breakdown

Tackling climate breakdown must be at the centre of local governments' vision for communities, and its role is key to cutting carbon emissions. Their unique knowledge of respective areas, track record in service delivery, and regulatory and procurement powers means they're ideally placed to drive carbon emissions reductions all over the country.

With more support and funding from Westminster, local government can tackle climate breakdown and create greener, healthier living spaces for all.

Our work with local government

We work with communities to make sure their voices are heard by decision-makers at all levels.

Our network of more than 300 local groups and Climate Action groups engages local government in working for a better environment for everyone, with groups like Wigan Climate Action working with their council to establish an ambitious Climate Action Plan.

Furthermore, at Friends of the Earth HQ we work with stakeholders like the Local Government Association to create solutions that work for councils and the people they represent.

The key thing for me about Friends of the Earth is that it's ordinary individuals getting involved, telling politicians like me what needs to be done. Former councillor Neil Harrison, Bristol

May 2021 elections

From floods in Manchester to cyclones in Mozambique, the climate emergency is a global problem. But we know solutions can be found in our local communities.

On 6 May 2021, a series of elections are taking place across England and Wales.

Key issues that directly impact your everyday life, such as the air quality in your neighbourhood and access to good quality green space nearby, will be determined by how people vote. Yet despite their importance, polls show 70% of the public don't vote on who leads their community.

If you're not sure which elections are happening near you, visit Democracy Club's online tool and type in your postcode to find out. And make sure you're registered to vote, so you can have your say in your community's future.

Register to vote with gov.uk