11 Jan 2021
As the effects of climate breakdown become more obvious, it’s essential that we work on solutions both nationally and in our communities. Action on climate breakdown and nature will improve the quality of our lives and contribute to the economic recovery from the pandemic, including through delivering new regional jobs.
Mayors have important powers they can use to ensure their regions are as climate and nature friendly as possible. By taking action at a regional level we can also show the national government where the communities’ priorities lie, what can be done, and how we expect them to follow suit.
The good news is, we have a plan for how they can achieve that.
We’re encouraging groups to come together across city regions to get metro mayoral candidates to commit to protecting people and planet and helping the COVID-19 recovery.
What is a metro mayor?
A metro mayor is the directly elected leader of a combined authority. Combined Authorities are statutory bodies made up neighbouring local authorities. Some are known as city regions.
Metro mayors are part of the government’s devolution agenda and were enabled by the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016. These devolution deals determine the powers and resources available to metro mayors.
Metro mayors have a central role to play in providing a vision for their region, and will need to work with councils, businesses, local communities, and the national government.
Over 20% of England’s carbon emissions are produced in areas governed by metro mayors and Combined Authorities. Whoever is elected as the next mayor can’t single-handedly solve the nature and climate crises, nor the pandemic, but must use the powers they have to make as big a difference as possible.
Currently eight areas in England have metro mayors. The area over which they exercise their powers is home to almost 12 million people (over 20% of the population of England). West Yorkshire became the latest area to agree a devolution deal, and they will elect their first metro mayor in May 2021.
There will be seven metro mayor elections in 2021, in Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley, West Midlands, West of England, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, and West Yorkshire, plus the London Mayor election. We want to influence candidates to commit to protecting people and planet and helping the COVID-19 recovery.
Metro mayors can also act as key influencers within their own political parties, with the power to inspire others to prioritise climate action.
Protecting the most vulnerable
Tackling the climate, nature and COVID-19 crises must be done in a way which benefits everyone, no matter their income, race, age or background.
It’s essential to address the sheer scale of inequalities that exist. People who are most marginalised – both here in the UK and across the world – have done the least to cause climate breakdown and are the least able to rebound from its impacts.
People on lower incomes, and particularly black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, suffer most from the lack of nature and green space in our towns and cities. This is also true of air pollution, despite a smaller proportion of lower-income and BAME people owning cars than others.
Young people’s futures are most at risk from climate breakdown and the decline of nature, and they’re also disproportionately impacted by the economic impact of COVID-19.
The next mayor must also shift how the success of a COVID-19 recovery plan is measured. Rather than focusing on economic growth, metrics should identify whether the plan reduces poverty, decreases inequalities, increases wellbeing, and meets carbon reduction and nature restoration goals.
Find your region's Climate Action Plan
We’ve created tailored Climate Action Plans for metro mayors that present a low-carbon vision for each region, point to evidence of the need for change and – crucially – the practical actions needed to tackle the climate crisis.
Climate Action Plans are currently available for Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley, West Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, West of England and West Midlands.
We also have a Climate Action Plan for the London Mayor.
If you’re from another metro mayor or combined authority region, talk to your Regional Campaigns Organiser about your region’s Climate Action Plan.
Further resources will be available to support activists to campaign in the lead up to the mayoral elections in 2021.