Local government capacities to support net zero: Developing comprehensive heat and energy efficiency strategies in Scotland

Faye Wade*, Janette Webb, Emily Creamer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

An overhaul of existing strategies for low carbon heating and energy efficiency is critical to delivering international commitments to limit climate change. This will require innovation in the institutions governing retrofit, including local governments. This paper studies one such proposed innovation: Scottish Government's Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES), which have recently been piloted. LHEES are intended to establish comprehensive area-based, costed and prioritised plans for improving the energy efficiency of all buildings and decarbonising heat supply. As a proposed statutory duty, LHEES represents a form of potential institutional innovation, or a change in the rules governing local authority action. However, at this stage, it is unclear whether this will become a lynchpin for whole building stock retrofit, or another minor adjustment in local governance institutions. A capacities framing is used to explore how local authorities may differentially mobilise around this proposed innovation. Interviews with local government actors delivering, and analysis of reports resulting from, the LHEES pilots provide insight into six forms of capacity: responsibility; political authority; finance; personnel capacity; knowledge and; energy materialities. The results demonstrate strong inter-dependencies and tensions between these capacities, which shape the efficacy of LHEES as a new tool of governance for systemic innovation. These findings are important for policy makers looking to enhance local governance for low carbon heat and energy efficiency.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Early online date15 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • capacities
  • institutional innovation
  • local authority
  • energy retrofit
  • low carbon heat


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