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1/5 of UK councils are yet to publish climate action plans

A fifth of UK councils are yet to publish plans to tackle climate change despite most having declared a climate emergency more than two years ago, according to Climate Emergency UK. 

The team of over 120 volunteers found that 84 of the UK’s 409 local authorities have no published plan, while others have plans of very varying quality and ambition.

The average score for Scottish and English councils was 46% dropping to 31% for Wales and 25% for Northern Ireland. Within that, there is a wide variety of scores across all council types. In England, the highest-scoring County Council was only 63% compared to 19 District Councils that scored between 63% and 92%.

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 5 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).

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

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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 measurable and assigned to teams or departments. It should also be clear how the plan will be monitored as it is implemented.

‘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.

‘Local authorities can help to deliver 30% 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”.

‘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.

‘While we understand that councils need much more support and funding from the national Government, and have been stretched by responding to the pandemic, the fact that some councils have developed well thought out, costed and ambitious plans, shows that it is possible.’

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