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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

A comparison of UK and US local government climate change strategies

Stephen Li

A comparison of UK and US local government climate change strategies

Local government in the UK is beginning to respond to pressures from central Government that calls for Local Authorities (LAs) to support the national climate change programme (Defra, 2000). LAs are uniquely placed to provide vision and leadership to their local communities, as LAs have a wide range of responsibilities and possess an understanding of their area. The result is that LAs have been identified as key players in the effort to tackle climate change in the UK.

Local climate change strategies are now being developed by LA who wants to take a lead in energy issues and adapt to climate change, but LAs must be able to manage and measure their progress. Climate change strategies can be a valuable to tool to raise the profile of climate security in the whole community, and in encouraging businesses, institutions, government, and individuals to develop appropriate responses in a coordinated process.

An initial evaluation of climate change strategies produced by the UK LA Cambridgeshire County Council: ‘Tackling Climate Change in Cambridgeshire’ and another by a US local authority, Cambridge City Council: ‘City of Cambridge Climate Protection Plan’ had revealed significant discrepancies in how the issue of climate change was approached by both LAs.



Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.