One in five UK councils ‘have not published plans to tackle climate change’

·2-min read
Many councils have failed to introduce climate plans  (PA Archive)
Many councils have failed to introduce climate plans (PA Archive)

A fifth of local councils in the UK still have not published plans to tackle climate change – despite most having declared a climate emergency more than two years ago, according to an environmental charity.

Climate Emergency assessed all UK councils’ written Climate Action Plans and has ranked them using scorecards.

Some 84 of the UK’s 409 local authorities have no published plan, the charity said, while others have plans of very varying quality and ambition.

All Climate Action Plans that were published online by councils before 20 September 2021 (and written after 2015) were assessed by a team of over 120 volunteers, trained and overseen by Climate Emergency UK.

Annie Pickering, Campaigns and Policy Officer at CE UK, said: “A good Action Plan has the basics covered. This means that the actions are specific and measurable and assigned to teams or departments. It should also be clear how the plan will be monitored as it is implemented.”

High scoring councils cut across the political divide, such as Somerset West and Taunton Council (Liberal Democrat), Manchester City Council (Labour) and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council (Conservative).

Four out of the top five district councils are coalition or minority-run councils: East Devon (Democratic Alliance and Independent Progressive Coalition), Staffordshire Moorlands (Conservative minority), Stroud (a cooperative alliance of the Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat parties) and Waverley (Farnham Residents and Liberal Democrats Coalition).

The charity has only assessed Action Plans this time, not the actions councils are actually taking to reduce emissions and improve biodiversity.

“Councils may be doing good things which aren’t reflected in their Action Plan. That is why next year we will be assessing all councils on what they are actually doing,” said Miss Pickering.

“Local authorities can help to deliver 30 per cent of the cuts in carbon emissions needed to get to net zero, according to the 6th UK Carbon Budget published a year ago, so it is vital that councils do as much as they can”.

Only 86 councils have an area-wide net-zero target of 2030 or earlier, and 33 per cent of councils had not set a net-zero target of 2050 or earlier, according to the Council Climate Plan Scorecards.

Miss Pickering added “This year’s scorecards are just the start of the process. It has been an important exercise to understand what makes a good council Climate Action Plan and we hope that it will help councils learn from each other and up their game.

“A good plan will help a local authority deliver effective actions, while having it easily available on the council website will enable local residents to know what their council has committed to and so hold the council to account.”