Climate Emergency UK has assessed all UK councils on their progress towards net zero, with the results published on Council Climate Action Scorecards.
This nationwide data exercise makes it possible to see which councils are making good progress to net zero and where others are not – only 41 councils in the UK scored 50% or more for their climate action, the average score being 32%.
The seven sections that the scorecards cover seven areas of activity are: Buildings & Heatings, Transport, Governance & Finance, Planning, Biodiversity, Collaboration & Engagement and Waste Reduction & Food.
The scorecards were created after months of research and consultation with over 80 organisations and experts individuals within the climate sector such as Friends of the Earth, Ashden and mySociety (the scorecard partners). Councils are assessed according to a three-stage marking process using primarily publicly available data from council websites, as well as national data and FOI responses from councils.
The results found that the majority of UK councils are underperforming with national barriers a key reason, with some councils scoring well in specific sections. Greater Manchester Combined Authority is the only authority who scored full marks in any one section, in Buildings and Heating.
Annie Pickering, Co-Director at Climate Emergency UK, said:
The low scores across the board shows that there are national barriers for local authorities that make it harder for most councils to deliver the necessary climate action. 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”.
For example, the scores in the section Planning and Land Use range from minus 1% to a positive 92%, which shows that other local factors, such as political will and community support, are at play in determining the action councils are taking to combat climate change.
These scorecards are an essential tool for councils and campaigners alike to show them what is possible for local climate action and encourage councils to go further, to mitigate and adapt to the climate and ecological emergencies we are facing.
Scottish and Welsh councils on average score higher, with no Scottish or Welsh councils in the bottom performing councils. This demonstrates that when a national government provides greater support, funding and power to local authorities the climate action of every local authority in that nation increases.
Some of the councils that scored less than 20% overall scored 0% or less in one or more sections. In total, 127 councils scored less than zero because the scorecards include four penalty marked questions where councils lose marks for actions that increase emissions, such as investing in airports or approving planning permission for oil or gas fields. For example, Blackpool and East Cambridgeshire scored less than 0% in Transport.
The criteria used to assess councils was published in November 2022 and assesses councils according to 91 that questions cover actions that councils have control or influence over, which have a big impact on carbon emissions and biodiversity loss (with some council types having fewer questions due to their differing powers).
The scorecards were created using a three-stage marking process which involved over 200 volunteers completing the first mark and then all councils being able to comment on their first mark in the Right of Reply. The final stage of the marking was carried out by a small team of auditors, who awarded the final score.
The website – councilclimatescorecards.uk – enables you to filter the scores by various factors to see which council scored best. Filters include current political control of a council, how urban or rural the council is, the council type (district, county or unitary etc.), and each question and section.
Oxford City Council ranked as the third highest scoring district council. Oxford’s Councillor Anna Railton, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Climate Justice, said:
It is fantastic news that Oxford has once again been recognised for our efforts to reach net zero. Not only is this great news for us as a council, but it is truly a testament to our city and the partners, businesses, community groups, and residents, who are all dedicated to tackling the climate emergency. This is further motivation to keep up the hard work towards our targets.