Climate Emergency UK Create a New System to Assess the Climate Action of Local Councils

The non-profit NGO Climate Emergency UK has recently unveiled its draft methodology for a comprehensive climate action scoring system for all local councils. The initiative is set to create ‘council climate action scorecards’ for every council in the UK, launching in the autumn of this year.

The Scope of the Rating System

The extensively researched rating system uses 89 different questions on 7 different sectors for each authority.

The 7 sectors are:

  • Building and heating
  • Transport
  • Planning and land use
  • Governance and finance
  • Biodiversity
  • Collaboration and engagement
  • Waste reduction and food

Scoring Methodology and Rating System

Each question has an individual set of criteria and is weighted according to impact. A set of clarifications also follows each question to avoid confusion on definitions and ensure a standardised rating

The climate action plan is a more in-depth development of their previous initiative (Below) to score and rank councils on their climate Plan. The new rating system will provide a more accurate assessment of how much each authority is doing to mitigate climate damage.

The Aim of the New Scoring System

The system hopes to improve the quality of publicly available information on climate mitigation strategies and create greater transparency in regional governance.

This should help each regional office understand where the flaws in their climate plan lie and what more they could be doing to reduce environmental damage.

The scoring will also inevitably increase accountability standards as sustainability measures become easily accessible in the public sphere. This is likely a good thing given the poor outlook on global emissions reductions and projections of Paris Agreement targets.

Local councils have a large influence over emissions production. According to the government’s Net Zero Strategy, ‘82% of the UK’s emissions are within the scope of influence of local authorities. This makes a greater push to enhance local council strategies an ideal focus of ecological reform.

The Process of Creating the New System and The Predicted Imapct

The scoring system draft is very impressive. The substantial amount of research conducted to formulate the system is evident. The efforts of 90 collaborative organisations, 200 contributors and over a year’s work have gone into producing this system and it shows.

The teams involved have also been completely transparent on their methodology, releasing a series of blog posts on the formulation process, stating the reasoning and research applied and how all the data will be acquired. This kind of openness to scrutiny can only be a sign of integrity in the project.

Isaac Beevor, co-director of Climate Emergency UK, had this to say: “What the scorecards do for the first time is to look across the whole of the council’s main areas and departments to understand whether climate has been embedded across all those departments, rather than focusing just on active travel or procurement, for example, which some campaigns have done.”

Beevor also states that there’s been a ‘mixed response’ from councils to being scored this way, unsurprising as public pressure will likely increase on the authorities that score significantly below average. There is also no opt-out option for these regional bodies (thankfully, as this would defeat the point somewhat), which has probably contributed to the mixed response.

By the end of the year, everyone living in the UK will be able to check the effectiveness of the sustainable measures taken by their council and compare it to others which is likely to spike people’s curiosity at a minimum. Another interesting development that could arise is the rankings being used to assess politicians’ performances through effective action in their respective constituencies. These ratings may well become involved in political tactics and proceedings in future.

The weighting and criteria of the system really highlight the importance of adapting the built environment in our society. The three most heavily weighted sectors (Building and heating, Transport, Planning and land use) all relate strongly to our structural surroundings. The need to evolve how we construct and urbanise is clear; it is one of the most impactful areas for sustainability focus. This project and the attention it is receiving, along with the development of many other indexes and rating systems in recent times, demonstrate how effective rating platforms can be in improving sustainable standards both on a governmental and corporate level.  

Learn More on Firstplanit

Click here to read about the campaign group CPRE calling for the mandatory installation of solar panels. 

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