Over 400 local councils across the country will have their climate change actions assessed in scorecards as part of a new extensive survey by Climate Emergency UK, a body set up in response to the climate emergency declarations that councils started making at the end of 2018.
Climate Emergency UK began by collecting these declarations and the ensuing Climate Action Plans on its website. And now, for the first time, it has created a comprehensive list of the actions councils can take to tackle the climate emergency.
This is the second survey by the group, the first assessed planned actions by the local councils. It is hoped that the results will help hold the councils to account and encourage them to do more.
Annie Pickering, co-director at Climate Emergency UK, said: “There are 409 local authorities in the UK, and we’ve got 90 questions, so that gives you a scale of how big this is.
“Up to 30 per cent of emissions are within the scope and influence of local authorities in the UK. We want to see that councils are really doing everything they can within their powers to tackle the climate emergency.
“Some councils are already doing a really good job, and these scorecards will highlight that. There are some councils who claim to be doing a good job, but perhaps that won’t be reflected in the scorecards.”
“Although the topics are similar, the questions have changed [this time] because we want to be able to measure actual actions,” she added.
“So rather than saying ‘how are you going to decarbonise transport?’, you’ve got a whole question on measurable actions that councils might have done to decarbonise transport, such as are they supporting shared bike or scooter schemes, and what is their bus ridership for the area.”
Ms Pickering said the research carried out for each question found that at least one council has been able to take a specific action.
So that the assessment is not focussed on impossible metrics, it focuses on what is possible from the councils rather than expecting them to do things they don’t have the power to do.
“Some might be hard and a challenge…so it’s more tangible and has measurable actions this time,” she added.
The Climate Emergency UK methodology will score each council on seven sections: Buildings & Heatings, Transport, Governance & Finance, Planning, Biodiversity, Collaboration & Engagement and Waste Reduction & Food.
The scores will be based on publicly available information from the councils (including freedom of information requests) and national data sets.
There will be a three-stage marking process, starting with volunteers generating a draft score, and then a Right of Reply will be offered for all the councils.
“So they can respond to and let us know if we made any errors, if we have misunderstood something, or in a rare case where we’ve given them a mark they don’t agree with,” Ms Pickering said.
“The third stage has a much smaller team of volunteers for a better standardisation who review and audit the two marks and give the final score.”
Climate Emergency UK will start scoring councils in January, and the scorecard results will be published in the Autumn of 2023.
Volunteers who wish to help with the marking can find more information at the Pre-Register for Scorecards Volunteering page.