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Don von Rohland: Climate Action Scorecards


Have you checked how your local council is performing in tackling the climate and ecological emergencies? The Council Climate Action Scorecards provide a comprehensive assessment of the progress made by councils across the UK towards taking 91 crucial actions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Recommended actions include improving access to public transport, enabling active travel, providing energy efficient social housing and protecting biodiversity in your local area.

Together with 215 volunteers, Climate Emergency UK assessed local authorities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the progress they made towards taking those actions. We released the results in October 2023, which have now been accessed by over 140,000 people!

While the results are low on average, it’s not a reason to despair! We have seen councillors, council officers and campaigners use the Scorecards to demand and win further support for climate action, and we hope you will feel inspired to follow their example, whether it’s by identifying areas of improvements in your council’s climate action or finding great examples of best practice.

The next edition of the Scorecards will be released in Summer 2025 and will be directly comparable to the current Scorecards. How will you make sure that your council delivers better climate action then?

What can we do?
Before anything, check your local council’s scores! Enter your postcode in the search bar at the top of the Scorecards website, it will take you directly to your council’s results. You can also check out your local area’s climate action plan, climate warming stripes and some amazing projects led by people locally, by visiting Carbon Copy’s local climate action hub.

Discuss your findings with your friends and networks! You can find like-minded people by joining one of the Friends of the Earth networks: in England, Wales & Northern Ireland and in Scotland. It will be much easier to shape an actionable request collaboratively. You might also want to consult our Campaigner’s Guide to the Scorecards for further advice.

Now that you have a clear ask, why not arrange a meeting with your councillor? They are elected to represent us. Local elections are coming up in May in different parts of the country. Will you contact your local candidate to make sure they support better climate action? Meeting them face-to-face is the most effective way to build a relationship and make sure they carry your voice. To contact currently elected councillors, your council website will list their Environment committees or cabinet members and contact details. You can find your local councillor by inputting your postcode into the WriteToThem website.

Sharing the Scorecards
One of our Scorecards volunteers, Fiona Dyer, together with Climate Action Durham, recently hosted a public event, empowered with the knowledge from the Scorecards. The event was a real success and demonstrated how campaigners can support councils in gaining further support from local residents for climate action. A report was produced detailing 9 recommendations from local residents on how to improve the council’s climate action. The council is working on implementing those recommendations and a new citizen forum will be held this Autumn.

Hosting a public event could be one of the most impactful ways to increase the focus on climate action during the local election! Can you use this opportunity to share and explore local Scorecards results? We can support you with hosting a local Scorecards event, do contact us at [email protected].

In addition to public events and grassroots campaigns, the Scorecards can also be leveraged to directly influence local policy decisions.

Influencing local policy
The Scorecards results in Northern Ireland are lower on average. In Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Cllr Andrew Murray took it upon himself to improve his council’s scores.

The Scorecards provided him with the structure and examples needed to write a convincing speech and motion calling for a renewed focus on tackling the climate emergency. Andrew acknowledged areas where the council was doing well, identified areas where action could be improved and compared its performance with other councils in Northern Ireland. He also noticed areas where progress had been made but not well communicated. We were over the moon to hear that Andrew’s motion passed, demonstrating how the Scorecards can be used to rally political support for climate action.

Could you support your councillor in getting familiar with the Scorecards and how they can be used to gain further support for climate action? Another resource you might want to share with your councillor is our newly launched report looking at the trends in Scorecards results, Scorecards Successes: What factors enable climate action within UK local authorities.

While national barriers can seem insurmountable, it sometimes doesn’t take more than a few passionate people like Fiona or Andrew to tip the balance towards further climate action at the local level! Local climate action can demonstrate that wider, systemic change is not only needed, but also possible.

Don von Rohland is Outreach Director at Climate Emergency UK, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company working within the council climate sector to help reduce area-wide emissions that councils have power and influence over, at the scale and pace we need.

Ready to take your campaigning to the next level? Climate Emergency UK will be
providing a free six-week training on how to navigate council and secure further
support for climate action. We are keen for candidates standing at local elections
as well as recently elected councillors to join our next course starting in June
2024! Do make sure to contact your local candidate and ask them to sign on to
the Local Climate Academy.

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