Town and parish councils have a vital role to play in addressing the climate emergency. Operating at the closest level to communities, they are uniquely placed to inspire grassroots action, set a leadership example and provide a focal point for practical, local action on the climate emergency.

Yet although many Town and parish councils have already declared a climate emergency, the vast majority have not. This is partly because parish councillors are volunteers and most parish clerks are part time, but it also stems from the lack of support and advice for councils at this level – where the levers of influence and focus of action are different to local and combined authorities.

To help address this need, the Centre for Sustainable Energy are working with the Society of Local Council Clerks to offer targeted support to help clerks understand the ways they can take action that are most appropriate to their scale and reach.

Over the next 6 months, CSE are running a series of recurring webinars designed to help Parish Clerks act on the climate emergency, and support their councillors to do the same.

You can read more about the webinars and sign up here. (Non SLCC members can register too.)

The five webinars cover the core information and topics that will allow parish and town councils to make progress on declaring a climate emergency, and take the key initial actions that are needed: from creating action plans to ‘climate proofing’ neighbourhood plans, as well as how to engage their community and garner their support.

  1. Declaring an emergency and action planning: will discuss, with examples, what makes a good climate emergency declaration with a specific focus on parish and town councils. We will also introduce a suggested process for action planning. Action planning works well in advance of making a climate emergency declaration, as it can produce a high-level action plan that can form the basis of the body of a declaration.
  2. Reducing energy use in buildings: covers basic principles of energy efficiency in existing properties; the fundamentals to consider when making improvements (especially in older, traditional and heritage buildings); low and ‘no-cost’ solutions (such as behavioural changes and buying ‘green’ energy). We will also touch on sources of funding and support.
  3. Community-based energy projects: gives an overview of the depth and breadth of community energy activity, with a focus on what can best be achieved at the parish scale; how to identify projects that will lead to the highest levels of carbon reduction and community buy in given limited resources; and sources of funding and support available to get community energy schemes off the ground.
  4. Zero carbon neighbourhood planning: looks at the best climate change mitigation and adaptation policies from neighbourhood plans which have been adopted across the country, and will explore topics which we recommend addressing in “climate proofed” neighbourhood plans.
  5. Community engagement and social media: introduces some proven methods of engaging communities on climate change, which take advantage of the grassroots reach of parish and town councils, as well as how to develop social media campaigns to drive engagement around declarations and ongoing work.