Friends of Carbon Copy: Climate Emergency UK


It’s one thing to have a plan of action and another thing to act on the plan. Climate Emergency UK, working with a team of trained volunteers, independently assessed all UK councils on their progress in 2023 toward net zero. The results are published in their Council Climate Action Scorecards, which were updated in November 2023.

The criteria used to assess progress covers actions that councils have control or influence over, which have a big impact on carbon emissions and biodiversity loss. The resulting activities included the Action Scorecards cover seven areas: Buildings & Heating, Transport, Governance & Finance, Planning, Biodiversity, Collaboration & Engagement and Waste Reduction & Food.

According to the detailed criteria of these Action Scorecards, only 41 councils in the UK scored 50% or more for their climate action, the average score being 32%. The average score for Scottish councils was 35%, closely followed by Welsh and English councils on 32% and Northern Ireland councils on 21%. Within that, there is a wide variety of scores across all council types. For example, no council in Scotland scored below 17% whereas there are over 30 councils in England that scored 17% or lower.

We can all do something to improve these scores!

Many of these plans are area wide and are not limited to council operations. If this is the case in your local area, then you can see where the opportunities are to make the biggest impact by working together more closely in your respective organisations and community groups. With this in mind, you can also explore our national collection of local projects to discover the most relevant initiatives doing well elsewhere that you could copy or adapt.

If the plans are specific to the council, we should still care! As Annie Pickering, Co-Director at Climate Emergency UK, said: “A lack of funding and government policy U-turns are some of the barriers to effective local climate action. Yet national barriers alone cannot explain every low score”. In looking beyond national government for support, we find that ‘Collaboration & Engagement’ is an opportunity where every local area can improve their score; a collective approach that helps in getting more stuff done, across the board.

These Action Scorecards are not only an essential tool for councils and campaigners alike to show what is possible and encourage councils to go further; they are also an important climate action tool for community groups and other local organisations who wish to collaborate and make more progress, together, on the things that have the biggest impact.

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