For Immediate Release: 25th September 2023
Climate Emergency UK has today released over 4,000 responses to Freedom of Information requests made to UK councils covering 11 areas of climate action, from housing and transport to staffing and carbon literacy training.
The FOI requests were sent earlier this year to councils as part of the marking process for the Council Climate Action Scorecards, which will be published next month, assessing every UK council on its climate action. The responses uncover fascinating detail and show the huge variation in council climate action across the UK. Key findings include:
- 169 out of 388 UK councils have lobbied the national government calling on them to take further climate action, or to provide further funding, powers and climate resources to councils to take action themselves.
- Only 48% of councils in England, Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland (excluding county councils) have more than half of their council owned homes with an EPC rating of C or above.
- Only 51 councils confirmed that they have trained all their senior management and council leadership (cabinet or committee chairs) on climate action
- Only 18 councils have more than 2% of their staff working directly on delivering climate work
Isaac Beevor, one of the Co-Directors at Climate Emergency UK said “The FOI responses we received start to paint a picture of UK council climate action. They show that, despite the funding and policy limitations for many councils, there is more that can be done.
“FOIs are an important tool that anyone can use to find out information from public institutions, which we have found useful to do as part of holding councils accountable on their climate action as part of our Council Climate Action Scorecards.”
The Council Climate Action Scorecards are the most extensive analysis of local authorities climate action to date, covering 91 questions across 7 sections. They were designed by CE UK in consultation with over 90 organisations and individuals.
Isaac continued: “Finding out that almost half of all UK councils have lobbied the national government on issues of local government climate action shows that many councils want to deliver the necessary work to lower emissions, such as retrofitting buildings and building more renewable energy projects. However, this is not the case everywhere: 12 councils have approved building new or expanding existing coal, oil or gas projects in their area between 2019 and 1st January 2023. We need ambitious councils, who are prepared to embed climate action across every function of the council, and local residents to encourage councils to take the necessary steps to reduce their carbon emissions and protect our communities from the impacts of the climate and ecological crises.”
The full results of the Council Climate Action Scorecards will be released during the week commencing 16th October at https://councilclimatescorecards.uk/
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Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Annie, Co-Director at Climate Emergency UK on 07934486877 for more information.
Climate Emergency UK is a not-for-profit cooperative which has been working with councils and residents since 2019 to share best practice about what councils can do to tackle the climate and ecological emergency and to encourage effective action.
How to find the FOI requests
- Go to https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/search/Climate%20Emergency%20UK/all
- Use the search bars to search for a particular topic or council within the FOI requests that Climate Emergency UK has made
- Click on the relevant FOI title to read the FOI request and response in full
Please refer to https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/accessing_information for further guidance on how to use What Do They Know
Please look at https://councilclimatescorecards.uk/methodology/ and https://drive.google.com/file/d/18ZCmVF2QYWeQcR2fpxL_UBkK8A9HHg6A/view to understand which questions were answered in the Action Scorecards with FOIs and what the marking criteria was.
Notes for Editors
A total of 11 questions were sent by Freedom Of Information (FOI) request to every UK local authority. The questions cover these areas:
- Whether the council has a planning ecologist – a position to assess and enforce Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) applications
- Carbon literacy training of senior staff and councillors.
- Whether the Council uses renewable energy to source its own energy.
- Average energy efficiency of council homes
- Enforcement of the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard – a crucial power that local authorities have to make sure renters live in better quality homes.
- Whether the council has a staff member for retrofit
- The number of staff working on climate change at the Council
- Whether the council has lobbied the national government on climate change
- Has the council approved any new or expanded roads and airports
- Whether the Council has approved any new fossil fuel extraction projects.
We also have 1 FOI which was particular to Combined Authorities
- The number of people who had attended Green Skills courses.
Here you can find a more detailed list of the FOI questions asked, the Action Scorecard questions they relate to, the headline figures from the responses (based on our marking methodology), and, where relevant, an explanatory note.