One in five UK councils have no climate action plan

Analysis by the not-for-profit campaigning organisation Climate Emergency UK has shown that more than one in five of all councils in the UK have no climate action plan.

Shared with the Guardian, the research found that of the 409 local authorities across the UK, 84 still did not have climate action plans, while 139 had not committed to reach net zero emissions by a specific date.

Climate Emergency UK scored 325 plans according to 28 questions grouped into nine categories, including how well councils’ plans would mitigate the impact of climate change locally, whether climate and ecological emergency was integrated into existing policies, community engagement, climate education, scale of emissions targets and commitments to tackle the ecological emergency.

Since 2019, hundreds of local authorities have published plans to show how they intend to become carbon neutral. However, 38 district councils, three county councils, and 43 other councils in Great Britain and Northern Ireland have none. They include Norfolk County Council, Gloucester City Council and the London borough of Hackney.

The first year’s scoring was intended to establish a baseline of councils’ plans and scale of ambition. Next year’s will assess to what extent local authorities are on track to reach net zero emissions.

Somerset West and Taunton district council topped the league with a score of 91 per cent. Other high-scoring councils included West Midlands Combined Authority (89 per cent), Staffordshire Moorlands (87 per cent) and Solihull (85 per cent). The average score across all UK local authorities was 46 per cent.

Annie Pickering, a campaigns and policy officer at Climate Emergency UK, said: “It’s been three years since the first councils declared climate emergencies and our scorecards show that many councils are still not making action on the climate and ecological emergency a priority. Councils can have a real influence on creating low-carbon communities, and with the warmest new year on record in the UK, we need to see action fast.”

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