Back to the Scorecards

Draft Methodology

Council Climate Action Scorecards

Summary

We have now published the draft methodology for the Council Climate Action Scorecards. This lays out how we'll be marking and scoring all UK councils on the actions they're taking towards net zero. The Council Climate Action Scorecard results will be released in Autumn 2023.

We will mark and score all UK councils on their climate action against 89 questions in 7 different sections. We created the criteria through extensive research and consultation with council staff, councillors, campaigners and other organisations. To understand what action we will be scoring and the question weightings, please read the complete draft methodology here. To find out more about how we created each section and why questions or topics were or were not included, check out our blog series on the draft methodology here.

Whilst every effort has been made to make this methodology complete, Climate Emergency UK reserves the right to make changes to the methodology where deemed appropriate between now and Autumn 2023. Changes may be made, for example, if national policy changes between now and Autumn 2023 and this impacts our questions; or if the data needed to answer a particular question is no longer available to use. An updated methodology, identical to the one used in the marking, will be published, if needed, alongside the Council Climate Action Scorecards in Autumn 2023.

The Council Climate Action Scorecards is a project of Climate Emergency UK, with technical support from mySociety.

Question criteria

Below you can see each of the questions that councils will be scored on in 2023, along with some further clarification of the question criteria. We’ve also shown how each question will be scored: whether from volunteer research, FOI responses from councils, the use of national data or through a mixture of volunteer research and national data. Unless otherwise stated, we are marking council climate action from 1st January 2019 up until March 2023 (exact date to be confirmed). For questions that use national data we will take the most recent data up until 1st August 2023. For questions that use FOI requests, unless otherwise stated, we are marking council climate action from 1st January 2019 up until January 2023 when the FOI requests will be sent out. Strategies and Policies that we mark must also be in date and active (except for Local Plans where draft ones will be accepted).

Different council types have different powers. Therefore, questions are only being asked to a council where they have power or influence on that topic. For example, County Councils are not Planning Authorities so there are only two questions in the Planning section that apply to County Councils. To understand more about the different powers that different councils have, check out this blog from the Institute of Governance.This is why, sometimes, you will see, for example, questions 1, 2, and 4 but not question 3, as question 3 doesn’t apply to the council you have selected.

See the questions

Or show questions by type of council

This section will contribute 20% to a single tier council’s overall score
This section will contribute 25% to a district council’s overall score
This section will contribute 20% to a county council’s overall score
This section will contribute 20% to a Northern Irish council’s overall score

Buildings and Heating is one of the biggest sectors of carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. This section aims to cover the main actions that councils can take to support both private rented and owned homes and socially renting households to reduce the emissions from their homes.

Buildings & Heating · Question 1

Has the council completed extensive retrofit work on any of its significant buildings to make them low carbon?

Topic

Council buildings - retrofit

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council have done any of the following extensive retrofit works for any one of its significant buildings:

  • created on-site renewable energy
  • whole building retrofitting, including heat pump installations
  • extensive insulation of walls and floors
  • replacing gas boilers or installing a combined heating system

Additional points awarded if the retrofit has been awarded a standard such as BREEAM Refurbishment and fit-out (any level), AECB Retrofit standard (Bronze, Silver or Gold) or any other recognised standard.

Clarifications

Significant council buildings refers to leisure centres, libraries, council town halls or offices, community centres, schools & colleges (not academies or private schools) or care homes.

Extensive retrofit (sometimes called deep retrofit) refers to significant works of size or scale that result in a fundamental change to the building structure and/or services. This could be a collection of lots of small retrofit enhancements, or a single larger and disruptive measure, such as installing a combined heat system.

The work must be completed, not in progress.

Buildings & Heating · Question 2

Are the council's operations powered by renewable energy?

Topic

Council buildings - renewable energy tariff

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

FOI

Criteria

Criteria met if the council has a green tariff that is 100% renewable or if the council creates its own energy equivalent to 20% of more of its energy consumption through energy from waste.

Additional points awarded if the council has a green tariff with Green Energy UK plc, Good Energy Limited or Ecotricity, or if the council creates its own renewable energy equivalent to 20% or its energy consumption. This could be through on-site energy generation, or if the council has built or bought a solar/wind farm elsewhere.

Clarifications

This includes all energy that the council is directly responsible for, in council offices and any other buildings leased and managed by the council where the council pays the energy tariff. This does not include homes owned or managed by the council.

Buildings & Heating · Question 3

Are the homes owned and managed by the council energy efficient?

Topic

Council homes - EPC ratings

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

FOI

Criteria

Three Tier Criteria

Criteria met if 50% or more of the council's homes receive C or above in their Environmental Performance Certificate ratings.

Additional points awarded if 60% or more, and then if 90% or more of their buildings received C or above EPC ratings.

Clarifications

Environmental Performance Certificates (EPCs) show home buyers or tenants how energy efficient the building is. The EPC contains information on potential energy costs and carbon dioxide emissions.

Council owned or managed homes includes arms-length management organisation (ALMO) if the homes are owned by the Council but not Housing Associations.

This question applies only to homes that councils have an available EPC rating for. This question applies only to councils that own or manage any number of council homes.

Buildings & Heating · Question 4

Does the council have a target to retrofit all council owned and managed homes and has this been costed?

Topic

Homeowner support - retrofit

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Three Tier Criteria

Criteria met if the council has completed an exercise to measure how much, approximately, it will cost them to retrofit all homes (to EPC C or higher, or equivalent) and there is a target date provided.

Additional points will be awarded depending on the councils' target dates, with tiers for 2030, 2040 and 2050.

Clarifications

Home retrofit is the process of making changes to existing buildings so that energy consumption and emissions are reduced. These changes also provide more comfortable and healthier homes with lower fuel bills.

The council doesn't need to have all the funds available for the retrofit.

This question applies only to councils that own or manage any number of homes.

Buildings & Heating · Question 5

Is the council part of a programme or partnership to support home retrofitting, through providing the skills and training needed or in other ways?

Topic

Retrofit partnerships

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria
  • The council convenes or is a member of a local retrofit partnership, that focuses on developing the skills and training needed for retrofit or sharing knowledge around retrofitting. Evidence of this partnership is needed. At least two of the following must be visible:
    1. A named partnership with a public membership list
    2. A terms of reference or aims of the group
    3. Evidence of previous meetings, via notes, agendas, videos or in news stories
  • Alternatively, the criteria will be met if the council convenes or supports a programme for retrofitting locally through providing training or skills support.
Clarifications

The criteria will be met if this partnership is a council task and finish group or sub-committee group with external members.

Buildings & Heating · Question 6

Does the council have a staff member employed to work on retrofitting across the council area?

Topic

Staff working on retrofit

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

FOI

Criteria

Criteria met if a staff member is employed to work on retrofitting for 3 or more days a week and is working on any retrofit projects, including council buildings, council homes or private rented or owned households.

Staff can be as a project manager or officer on 3 or more days a week. We would accept contractors as long as they are equivalent to 3 days or more a week (0.6 FTE).

Clarifications

The criteria will be met if this partnership is a council task and finish group or sub-committee group with external members.

Buildings & Heating · Question 7

Are the homes and buildings in the council area energy efficient?

Topic

EPC ratings - whole area

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

National Data

Criteria
Three Tier Criteria

Criteria met if 50% or more of buildings in the area that have an EPC rating are rated C or above.

Additional points awarded if the more than 60% and then more than 90% of buildings in the area that have an EPC rating are rated C or above.

Clarifications

Environmental Performance Certificates (EPCs) show home buyers or tenants how energy efficient the building is. The EPC contains information on potential energy costs and carbon dioxide emissions.

Not all buildings in the area have an EPC rating. We will be looking at only the ratings of the buildings that do have a rating.

Marked using data provided by UK Government, Scottish EPC Register and the Department of Finance NI

Buildings & Heating · Question 8

Is the council actively enforcing Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards of homes in the private rented sector?

Topic

Housing Efficiency Standards Enforcement

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

High

How will this be marked?

FOI

Criteria

Two Tier Criteria

Criteria met if the council has carried out 1-100 compliance or enforcement notices in the last financial year 2021/22.

Additional points if more than 100 compliance or enforcement notices have been carried out by a council.

Clarifications

This question is applicable to English and Welsh District and Single tier councils only.

All district and single tier councils have legal powers to enforce Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards. This legislation states that a home cannot be rented out by a landlord if the home has an EPC rating of E or lower. The council can enforce this requirement through enforcement notices and fining landlords if they continue to rent out homes that have an EPC rating of E or lower.

Buildings & Heating · Question 9

Does the council provide a service to support private homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient?

Topic

Homeowner support - retrofit

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria is met if the council is either providing a tailor-made advice to residents on home energy efficiency, or connecting residents with local trades people and suppliers for energy efficiency measures that can be carried out in their homes.

Clarifications

Points will not be awarded for webpages with standardised information on the council website. There must be links to a wider project or product being offered.

Buildings & Heating · Question 10

Does the council offer funding to private renters or homeowners to retrofit their homes?

Topic

Homeowner funding - retrofit

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council provides any amount of funding to any number of private renters, landlords or homeowners to retrofit their homes. This would include grant funding councils have secured from the Green Homes Grants and the Sustainable Warmth national government programmes if the council are administering them.

Clarifications

This does not include services provided under the Energy Companies Obligation to replace or upgrade boilers to homes on low income as this is already required and administered by councils. The project cannot be a trial project.

Buildings & Heating · Question 11

Does the council have a scheme to allow residents to purchase renewable energy cheaply, through collective buying?

Topic

Renewable Energy purchasing schemes

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

National Data and Volunteer Research

Criteria

Two Tier Criteria

Criteria met if the council is running a Solar Streets or equivalent collective energy buying project.

Additional points awarded if the council is running a Solar Together or equivalent project, such as iChoosr. Points awarded to any other scheme councils are doing that are on a similar scale to Solar Together.

Clarifications

If the project is being led by the County Council and all other district councils are involved too, then all those district councils will be awarded the points.

The project cannot be a trial project.

Marked partly using publicly available data from Solar Streets and Solar Together

Buildings & Heating · Question 12

Has the council supported local community renewable energy creation?

Topic

Community Renewable Energy

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

National Data and Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if there is public information about a council working with a local community energy generation infrastructure project, such as wind, solar or hydro. Evidence of this could include:

  • Being formally listed as a partner on the community energy projects' website
  • Evidence on the councils' website of the council providing funding, land or other support to the community energy project.
Clarifications

Marked partly using data provided by Community Energy England

This section will contribute 20% to a single tier council’s overall score
This section will contribute 5% to a district council’s overall score
This section will contribute 30% to a county council’s overall score
This section will contribute 15% to a Northern Irish council’s overall score

Transport is the other biggest sector of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. This section covers the main enabling actions councils can take to reduce car use and encourage more sustainable transport within their area.

Transport · Question 1

What percentage of the council's fleet are electric vehicles?

Topic

Council Fleet

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if over 10% of the council's fleet are electric vehicles.

Clarifications

A council's fleet includes council owned or leased vehicles, and may include street cleaners and waste collection vehicles.

Transport · Question 2

Has the council set up or supported a shared transport scheme that can be used across their whole area?

Topic

Shared Transport Schemes

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

National Data and Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met for each type of scheme where a member of the public can hire a vehicle (e.g. car/scooter/bike/mobility device) within the local authorities area.

The following schemes will be awarded points:

  • Car share scheme of any size in the area. Including:
    • Community car clubs.
    • Car clubs provided by private companies
    • Hiring of council vehicles when not in use
  • Bike share scheme
  • E-bike or cargo bike share scheme
  • E-scooter scheme
  • Mobility Devices
  • Wheels 2 Work scheme

Trial schemes that are active at the time of marking will be accepted.

Clarifications

Marked mainly using CoMoUK’spublicly available data on shared transport schemes.

Transport · Question 3

Does the council have enforced school streets across its area?

Topic

School Streets

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Two tier criteria

Points awarded for 10 or more enforced school streets.

Further points awarded for 30 or more enforced school streets.

A trial school street, which is current at the time of marking, will be counted but only if the local authority is over the total of 10/30 with trial/permanent school streets

School streets must be year round to be accepted here.

Clarifications

A school street is a street outside of a school that is closed to private vehicles for a time period before and after the school opens and shuts. This is to encourage a safe route for children to walk or roll to school, and improve air quality on the roads outside schools.

Enforced school streets are when the road is blocked during the hours decided or there are cameras used to stop private vehicles (often with exceptions for residents) to travel down the street.

Transport · Question 4

Is the council committed to making 20mph the standard speed limit for most restricted roads?

Topic

Speed limits

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

National Data

Criteria

Criteria met if you are verified by 20's Plenty For Us as having 20mph as the default speed limit for restricted roads.

20's Plenty For Us looks for councils that have a policy for setting 20mph for most roads: residential and high street roads.

This will include local authorities that have not implemented a 20mph speed limit for restricted roads but have passed the policy, as it can take 2-3 years to fully implement due to replacing the road signs.

Clarifications

Restricted roads are roads that due to lighting frequency are usually 30mph as according to national speed limits.

Marked using 20's Plenty for Us list of councils to have implemented a 20mph default.

Where a national government has introduced 20mph as the norm for restricted roads all councils within that nation will be awarded the point.

Transport · Question 5a

Has the council introduced a Clean Air Zone or Low-Emission Zone?

Topic

Clean Air Zone

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if a council has implemented a Clean Air Zone or Low Emission Zone that has been in operation since 2019.

For this question the Clean Air Zone or Low Emission Zone does not have to require charges for private vehicles.

Clarifications

A Clean Air Zone or Low Emission Zone is where targeted action is being taken to improve air quality and reduce the number of polluting vehicles and is usually defined over a certain area, such as a city centre.

Transport · Question 5b

Does the council's Clean Air Zone or Low Emission Zone require charges for private vehicles?

Topic

Clean Air Zone

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if a council has implemented a Clean Air Zone or Low Emission Zone that has been in operation since 2019 and it charges for private vehicles.

For this question the Clean Air Zone or Low Emission Zone does have to require charges for private vehicles.

Clarifications

A Clean Air Zone or Low Emission Zone is where targeted action is being taken to improve air quality and reduce the number of polluting vehicles and is usually defined over a certain area, such as a city centre.

Transport · Question 6

Has the council taken clear steps to support active travel?

Topic

Active Travel

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

National Data and Volunteer Research

Criteria

Data is not currently available to create the criteria for this question. This will be published with the complete methodology when the Scorecard results are published.

Clarifications

TBC

Transport · Question 7

Does the council have controlled parking zones across all the residential areas of the local authority?

Topic

Parking

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Two tier criteria

Points awarded if the council has a controlled parking zone across any area of the local authority. This can be for any time period stated.

Further points awarded if the council has controlled parking zones across the whole area of the local authority. This can be for any time period stated.

Clarifications

A controlled parking zone is where Residential Permit Parking is only permitted.

By making areas residential permit parking only it discourages short trips as parking is not as available.

Transport · Question 8a

Are there any low emission buses used within the council's area?

Topic

Buses

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if there are any low-emission buses in use across the area.

Clarifications

We have defined low emissions buses as any buses that are electric, hydrogen or plug-in hybrid buses.

Transport · Question 8b

Is bus ridership within the council's area high?

Topic

Buses

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

National Data

Criteria

Criteria met if bus passenger journeys are over 100 per head of population.

The criteria to meet this question may change based on the most recent statistics, due to be released on 30th November 2022.

Clarifications

This question is applicable to English transport authorities only (Single Tier and County Councils).

Where the data is combined at a ITA level - we are scoring all constituent councils as one. For example, all councils within Greater Manchester ITA will be scored according to the Greater Manchester ITA bus ridership figures.

Marked using Department for Transport data (BUS 0110): Passenger journeys on local bus services per head of population by local authority: England - Link here

Transport · Question 9

Does the council have a workplace parking levy?

Topic

Workplace Parking Levy

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

High

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if a workplace parking levy is in place by the time of marking.

The workplace parking levy does not have to cover the whole of the council's area.

For scoring purposes we will count a scheme as implemented if it is approved by the council with a date set for the start of the implementation.

Clarifications

A workplace parking levy is a fee paid by businesses, or their employees, for parking spaces. This is used to discourage commuting by car thereby reducing emissions, improving congestion and improving air quality.

Transport · Question 10

Has the council supported the expansion of a public network of electric vehicle chargers?

Topic

EV charging

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

National Data

Criteria

Two tier criteria

Points awarded if the council has over 60 public chargers per 100,000 residents.

Further points awarded if the council has over 434 chargers per 100,000 residents.

Clarifications

This question is marked using the UK Government's data on publicly available EV chargers within the council's area. This includes all publicly available EV chargers, rather than just council owned or installed, as councils would still have to approve any public EV charger in their area.

We have chosen the two tier criteria to challenge councils. 60 public chargers per 100,000 residents has been achieved by a significant number of councils but many have also not yet reached this level.

The higher level of 434 chargers is based on the UK Government's 2030 target for 300,000 public EV chargers. To achieve the same format we divided (300,000 by the Office for National Statistics 2030 projected population 69.2 million) and multiplied this figure by 100,000. Rounding to the nearest EV charger gave us 434 chargers per 100,000 residents.

Marked using Zap Maps publicly available data on EV chargers, which is available using the UK Government. Please note, we will use the most recent available data in the 2023 scoring process.

Transport · Question 11

Has the council approved, expanded or built a high carbon transport project since 2019?

Topic

High Carbon transport project

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

High

How will this be marked?

FOI

Criteria

Negatively Scored Question

Points deducted if the council has approved, expanded or built a road since 2019.

Further points deducted if the council has approved, expanded or built an airport since 2019.

Clarifications

A high carbon transport project is defined as a road or an airport.

Approved = Passed a planning application in favour of expansion or construction of a road/airport since 2019.

Expanded = A road/airport has been expanded after 2019, even if it received planning approval before 2019. In the case of airports the expansion would include increasing passenger numbers.

Built = A road/airport has been built after 2019, even if it received planning approval before 2019.

This section will contribute 15% to a single tier council’s overall score
This section will contribute 25% to a district council’s overall score
This section will contribute 5% to a county council’s overall score
This section will contribute 15% to a Northern Irish council’s overall score

These sections have a less direct impact on emissions reduction. However, they have a considerable impact on enabling climate action and embedding it in longer-term policies. All council types have similar power and responsibilities in Governance & Finance and the actions scored in this section demonstrate the council’s commitment to reducing emissions and embedding climate action across the council. Planning & Land Use is one of the areas where single tier and district councils can be the most effective and also hold a lot of power, both for mitigation and adaptation, hence the higher weighting here than for the final three sections. County councils are not planning authorities which explains their lower section weighting for the Planning & Land Use section.

Planning & Land Use · Question 1

Is the council's area wide net zero target a strategic objective of the Local Plan?

Topic

Net-zero in Local Plan

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Points awarded if the Local Plan includes:

  • Reaching net zero as a strategic objective of the Local Plan
  • The council's net zero target date is also found within the Plan.

The net-zero target must be an area wide net-zero target.

Clarifications

Reaching net-zero must be part of the strategic objectives listed initially in the council's Local Plan - even if the target date is not listed in the strategic objective. This is because the objectives are broader and Joint Local Plans may have different targets between the local authorities.

We will accept other language for target dates, including carbon neutrality or the carbon budget the council has committed to stay within.

If the Local Plan references a national net-zero target it must still be a strategic objective of the local plan to meet the national target, rather than the national target just being stated.

Planning & Land Use · Question 2

Has the council committed to building all future council owned or managed housing to a high energy efficiency or operationally net-zero standard?

Topic

Council homes - energy efficient and low carbon

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Two tier criteria

Points awarded if the council has a policy to build new council owned or managed housing as highly energy efficient or operationally net zero with the policy implemented from 2030 to 2040.

Additional points awarded if the council has a policy to build new council owned or managed housing as highly energy efficient or operationally net zero with the policy already implemented since 2019 or with implementation by 2030.

Clarifications

High energy efficiency includes building new council owned or managed housing building standards such as Passivhaus/BREAM excellent or LEED standard or a similar council own standard.

For operationally net-zero policies, we will accept those that define this as only concerning regulated emissions. Definitions for operationally net-zero and regulated emissions are below.

Operationally net-zero: when the amount of carbon emissions associated with the building’s operational energy on an annual basis is zero or negative. A net zero carbon building is highly energy efficient and powered from on-site and/or off-site renewable energy sources, with any remaining carbon balance offset.” Link to definition

Regulated emissions: Emissions generated through building energy consumption resulting from the specification of controlled, fixed building services and fittings, including space heating and cooling, hot water, ventilation, fans, pumps and lighting. Such energy uses are inherent in the design of a building." More information

Council owned or managed housing: This includes arms-length management organisation (ALMO) if the homes are owned by the Council but not Housing Associations.

Planning & Land Use · Question 3a

Does the council require new homes to make an improvement on the Part L building regulations?

Topic

New Homes - Low Carbon Requirements

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Points awarded if the council has a policy that requires a reduction in carbon/energy of new homes within the councils area that is 19% higher than the Part L building regulations.

This would be the same as Scottish councils requiring "Gold standard" as a minimum.

Clarifications

Part L building regulations are the English national standard building regulations, which define the energy performance and carbon emissions in new homes.

Councils can require improvements that require lower emissions than the current building regulations.

Planning & Land Use · Question 3b

Does the council require a fabric first approach for new development?

Topic

New Homes - Energy Efficiency Requirements

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

The criteria will be met by English councils if they have a policy that exceeds the minimum government's building regulations on the Part L Target for Fabric Energy Efficiency.

Alternatively, the criteria will be met for councils that have a policy with a space heating requirement that exceeds the minimum government's building regulations.

For Scottish councils, the criteria will be met if the council requires developers to meet the Silver or Gold building standards

Clarifications

Part L building regulations are the English national standard building regulations, which define the energy performance and carbon emissions in new homes.

A fabric first approach by a council would require improvements on the national standard thereby ensuring new homes are energy efficient.

Planning & Land Use · Question 3c

Does the council set a requirement that all new homes to be built must be operationally (regulated) net zero?

Topic

New Homes - Net zero requirements

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

High

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Two tier criteria

Points awarded if the council requires new homes to be operationally net zero with the policy implemented from 2030 to 2040.

More points awarded if the council requires new homes to be operationally net zero with the policy already implemented since 2019 or with implementation by 2030.

Any date to implement the policy after 2040 would not be awarded points.

Clarifications

For operationally net-zero policies, we will accept those that define this as only concerning regulated emissions. Definitions for operationally net-zero and regulated emissions are below.

Operationally net-zero: when the amount of carbon emissions associated with the building’s operational energy on an annual basis is zero or negative. A net zero carbon building is highly energy efficient and powered from on-site and/or off-site renewable energy sources, with any remaining carbon balance offset.” Link to definition

Regulated emissions: Emissions generated through building energy consumption resulting from the specification of controlled, fixed building services and fittings, including space heating and cooling, hot water, ventilation, fans, pumps and lighting. Such energy uses are inherent in the design of a building." More information

There are a number of local plans in the draft stage who are requiring this policy. If these policies are deemed unsound by the Planning Inspectorate we will remove this question.

Planning & Land Use · Question 4

Does the council require developers to carry out a whole life cycle carbon assessment of new build developments?

Topic

New Builds - Embodied Emissions

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Points awarded if the council requires developers to carry out a whole life cycle carbon assessment for new developments.

Clarifications

Whole Life-Cycle Carbon (WLC) emissions are the carbon emissions resulting from the materials, construction and the use of a building over its entire life, including its demolition and disposal. A WLC assessment provides a true picture of a building’s carbon impact on the environment. For example it takes account of the embodied energy of the materials.

If this policy is applied for all new developments but does not apply for small scale developments (in England this is defined as any development under 10 homes) then the council will still score the point.

Planning & Land Use · Question 5

Does the council require a higher level of water efficiency for all new homes?

Topic

New Builds - Water Efficiency

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Points awarded if the council requires the lower level of water use - stated as 110 litres per person per day - for new homes.

This would be the same as Scottish councils requiring "Silver standard" or "Gold standard" as a minimum for new homes.

Clarifications

The council doesn't have to be defined as in a water stressed area to adopt the 110 litres per person per day standard for new build development but a clear local need should be demonstrated. It should be noted that over half of England is defined as in a water stressed area.

Planning & Land Use · Question 6

Has the council removed minimum parking requirements for new residential homes across their area?

Topic

Car dependency - Parking Standards

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Two tier criteria

Points awarded if the council has removed minimum parking requirements for new developments in any area.

For example, in a rural council this could mean minimum parking requirements are removed for the main town or if the council is urban if minimum parking requirements are removed for a central area.

Further points awarded if there are no minimum parking requirements across the whole of the council's area.

Planning & Land Use · Question 7

Does the council include a policy in the Local Plan to create 15/20 minute neighbourhoods?

Topic

Sustainable Neighbourhoods

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Points awarded if the Local Plan includes a policy to create 15/20 minute neighbourhoods. To meet the criteria the policy would have to include a definition of what a 15/20 minute community including:

  • What key services would be required within 15/20 minutes of new homes.
  • How it will be measured, for example 15 minutes by bike, walking, bus. As the crow flies distances will not meet the criteria.

If an authority has defined a specific zone where 15/20 minute neighbourhood policy principles would apply like the main town in a rural area then this would get the mark.

Clarifications

Synonyms for 15/20 minute neighbourhoods include: Healthy Streets Approach, Complete Neighbourhoods, Complete Communities.

This policy must be found in the Local Plan, Corporate Plan or an Area Climate Action Plan

Planning & Land Use · Question 8

Has the council committed to avoiding new building developments on the functional flood plain?

Topic

Flood plain

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Points awarded if the Local Plan states that there is a ban, or avoidance to building on the functional flood plain.

The criteria will also be met if a policy states that any new development will only replace the footprint of current development.

Clarifications

The functional flood plain is defined as a 3b flood plain by local authorities in England and Scotland, and Zone C in Wales

The functional flood plain is the most at risk area for flooding.

Planning & Land Use · Question 9

Does the council have a minimum requirement for on-site renewable energy generation for new building development?

Topic

Renewable Energy Generation in New Development

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Two tier criteria

Points awarded if the council has a policy for any minimum level of onsite renewable energy generation for new building development.

More points awarded if the council requires new homes to be operationally net zero with the policy already implemented since 2019 or with implementation by 2030.

Further points awarded if the council has a policy that requires 20%, or above, onsite renewable energy generation for new building development.

Clarifications

If this policy is expressed in terms of carbon reduction of energy by requiring the installation of renewable energy, instead of renewable energy usage, then the point would be awarded. A 15% reduction in carbon emissions through installing renewable energy will be treated as equivalent to a 15% requirement for total energy use from installing renewable energy.

If this policy is applied for all new developments but does not apply for small scale developments (in England this is defined as any development under 10 homes) then the council will still score the point.

Planning & Land Use · Question 10a

Does the Local Plan identify suitable areas for new solar energy, wind developments and district heat networks?

Topic

Renewable Energy - Suitable Areas

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Points awarded if the council has a map detailing where solar energy can be built within the council's area.

Points awarded if the council has a map detailing where wind energy can be built within the council's area.

Points awarded if the council has a map detailing where a district heat network can be built within the council's area.

Planning & Land Use · Question 10b

Has the Council approved any planning applications for new or expanded solar or wind developments, battery storage, or renewable district heat networks since 2019?

Topic

Renewable Energy - Approved Applications

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

High

How will this be marked?

National Data

Criteria

Points awarded for planning applications approved for new or expanded solar, renewable district heat networks, wind developments or battery storage.

Solar developments must exceed 1 megawatt in capacity.

Clarifications

Marked using data compiled by Department for BEIS

Planning & Land Use · Question 11

Has the Council approved a planning application for a carbon intensive energy system to be built or expanded from 2019?

Topic

Carbon Intensive Industry

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

High

How will this be marked?

FOI

Criteria

Negatively Scored Question:

Points deducted if the council has approved a carbon intensive energy system since 2019. A carbon energy intensive system includes coal mines, fracking/shale gas/gas drilling, oil drilling, and unabated fossil fuel generation.

This section will contribute 15% to a single tier council’s overall score
This section will contribute 15% to a district council’s overall score
This section will contribute 15% to a county council’s overall score
This section will contribute 20% to a Northern Irish council’s overall score

This section aims to understand to what extent climate action has been incorporated and embedded across the whole of the council in all its activities and services in its decision making, forward planning and structures. This section also looks at how councils are raising funds for climate action and whether the councils’ investments are sustainable or supporting high carbon infrastructure and industries.

Governance & Finance · Question 1a

Does the council's corporate plan include a net-zero target and make tackling the climate emergency one of its main priorities?

Topic

Net Zero Embedded in Corporate Plan

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if climate action (alternatively called Sustainability or Environment) is listed as one of the council's core priorities or equivalent. It must have its own heading or section and a net zero target date must be referenced.

The net-zero target date must be an area-wide target, either the UK Government's national target, the devolved nation's target or the council's area-wide net zero target.

Clarifications

A corporate plan is a business planning document that sets out the council's future priorities and objectives to help ensure that the council manages its resources effectively.

For County Councils the document is called a (Strategic) Economic Plan

We will accept other language for target dates being used such as carbon neutrality.

Governance & Finance · Question 1b

Does the council's medium term financial plan include the council's net zero target and make tackling the climate emergency one of its main priorities?

Topic

Net-Zero Embedded in mid-term Financial Plan

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if climate action (alternatively called sustainability or environment) is listed as one of the council's core priorities or equivalent. It must have its own heading or section and a net-zero target date must be referenced.

The net-zero target date must be an area-wide target, either the UK Government's national target, the devolved nation's target or the council's area-wide net-zero target.

Clarifications

A mid-term Financial Plan is a plan (often covering four years) which sets out the council's commitment to provide services that meet the needs of people locally and that represent value for money within the overall resources available to the council.

We will accept other language for target dates being used such as carbon neutrality.

Governance & Finance · Question 2

Has the council published a climate change risk register?

Topic

Climate Change Risk Register

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council has accurately identified the environmental risks of climate change to the local area, either in a stand alone climate change or adaptation risk register, or incorporated into the council's corporate risk register. There must be an explicit link between climate change and the increased risk of flooding or other weather events.

Adaptation plans are not valid, unless there is a risk register or equivalent within the adaptation plan.

Clarifications

Environmental risks of climate change in the local area include flooding, extreme heat, air pollution or other extreme weather events.

Governance & Finance · Question 3a

Is the council reporting on its own greenhouse gas emissions?

Topic

Emission data reduction

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Two tier criteria

Criteria met if the council is reporting its own emissions and fulfill all of the following:

  • The council states whether they are using the Environmental Reporting Guidelines from DEFRA, Global Protocol for Community Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories (GPC) or the GCoM Common Reporting Framework (CRF) to develop their inventory.
  • The inventory must cover a continuous period of 12 months, either a calendar year or a financial year
  • There must be data from 2019 and 2021 (or the financial year 2021/22).
  • The council must be measuring scope 1 and 2 emissions.

Additional points awarded if the council is also measuring scope 3 emissions.

Clarifications

Scope 1 emissions are greenhouse gas emissions that an organisation owns or controls directly, such as fuel burnt from council vehicles.

Scope 2 emissions are greenhouse gas emissions that an organisation produces indirectly when they purchase and use energy, such as the emissions created from the electricity the council buys to heat its offices.

Scope 3 emissions are greenhouse gas emissions that are created indirectly in an organisations' supply chain, such as the emissions produced in making the computers or paper that the council buys. Scope 3 also includes any other emissions not within scope 1 and 2.

Governance & Finance · Question 3b

According to the council's own reporting, have the council's own greenhouse gas emissions reduced since 2019?

Topic

Emission data reduction

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

High

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Three tier criteria

Councils must meet the minimum criteria of question 3a to be able to get points for this question.

Criteria met if, using the councils' own reporting mechanisms, there has been a 5% or more reduction of scope 1 and 2 emissions when comparing 2019 to 2021 (or financial years 2018/19 to 2021/22) data.

Additional points awarded if this emission reduction has been 10% or more, or further points if the reduction has been 20% or more.

Further points awarded if there has been any reduction from scope 3 emissions.

We recognise that there is currently no standard way that all councils use to report on emissions. We will score councils' own calculations, despite the differences, as long as they fulfill the requirements in 3a.

Clarifications

Scope 1 emissions are greenhouse gas emissions that an organisation owns or controls directly, such as fuel burnt from council vehicles.

Scope 2 emissions are greenhouse gas emissions that an organisation produces indirectly when they purchase and use energy, such as the emissions created from the electricity the council buys to heat its offices.

Scope 3 emissions are greenhouse gas emissions that are created indirectly in an organisations' supply chain, such as the emissions produced in making the computers or paper that the council buys. Scope 3 also includes any other emissions not within scope 1 and 2.

Governance & Finance · Question 4

Has the council's area wide carbon emissions decreased, according to UK Government data?

Topic

Emission data reduction

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

National Data

Criteria

Three tier criteria

Criteria met if the council has had a 2% or more emission reduction from 2019 to 2021 data.

Additional points awarded if the emission reduction is more than 5%, or further points if the reduction is more than 10% from 2019 to 2021.

Clarifications

Marked using data provided by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The data that will be used is the percentage difference between the calendar years 2021 and 2019 in the "Local Authority territorial carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions estimates within the scope of influence of Local Authorities" when it is published in Summer 2023.

Governance & Finance · Question 5

Has the council adopted a new governance or decision making process to put tackling the climate emergency at the heart of every council decision made?

Topic

Climate Change Decision Making

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Two tier criteria

Criteria met if climate implications are listed or referenced for all council decisions at full council. Climate implications can be considered through Environmental Implications or an Integrated Impact Assessment if this includes a climate or environmental sub-heading or section.

Additional points if the council is using a detailed impact assessment tool to assess the climate implications of all council decisions.

Governance & Finance · Question 6

Has the Council embedded climate action and waste reduction into their procurement policies?

Topic

Procurement

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

High

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Three tier criteria

Criteria met if the council has a stand alone environmental or sustainable procurement policy, or a complete section on Sustainable or Responsible Procurement, Climate Change and Action or something similar, within their procurement policy that includes the following.

Two or more of the following criteria must be met to meet the minimum criteria for this point:

  1. The policy makes explicit reference to the council's Climate Action Plan and zero carbon targets.
  2. The policy requests to see the carbon reduction plan of the supplier in the tendering process or asks the supplier to detail any specific steps taken in the design and manufacture of the services to increase energy efficiency and reduce any detrimental environmental impacts.
  3. There must be data from 2019 and 2021 (or the financial year 2021/22).
  4. The policy encourages or requires suppliers, through selection processes, to adopt processes and procedures to reduce their environmental impact, including energy consumption and associated carbon emissions, where practicable. For example a council might allocate 5% or more of the tendering overall evaluation score to the environmental actions of the tenderer (the supplier’s contribution to carbon reduction within their own operations or other actions)
  5. The policy encourages or requires suppliers, through selection processes, to adopt circular economy processes and procedures where practical.

Additional points if the council has a mandatory requirement for tenders to do any of the following:

  • Demonstrate how they will meet energy efficiency requirements or minimise energy consumption
  • Demonstrate how they will minimise waste in their products and services. This could be through recycled, natural, biodegradable or renewable materials being used, through not using single use plastic or other non-recyclable materials or through ensuring products and services last for as long as possible.

Additional points if the council's procurement policy includes any of the following:

  • The council aims to source low or zero carbon energy wherever possible, that it will phase out the use of fossil fuels from their council fleet.
  • The council aims to phase out the use of fossil fuels from their council fleet.
  • The council references the waste hierarchy in its policy, for example by stating that it encourages the councils to consider if repeat procurement requests are always needed.

Governance & Finance · Question 7

Does the council have a Cabinet member or Portfolio Holder that has climate change explicitly in their remit?

Topic

Elected Climate Change portfolio holder

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council has a role such as Chair of Environment Committee, Cabinet Member for Environment, Chair of Environment and Climate Change Scrutiny Committee or any title with the words Climate Change, Climate Action, Climate Emergency, Environmental Sustainability, Environment or similar in it.

This role can be merged with another role, such as Environment and Transport.

Clarifications

Councils are run by a cabinet or committee structure. A cabinet structure is where there is a council leader and cabinet members (all from the same political party) that make decisions either collectively or sometimes cabinet members have decision making powers within their own remits.

A committee structure is where councils are divided into politically balanced committees that make the decisions.

A Climate Champion (listed as a responsibility) is not valid for a point and neither is Chair or Cabinet member for Environmental Services.

Governance & Finance · Question 8

What percentage of the council's overall staff work on implementing their Climate Action Plan or other climate change projects?

Topic

Staff time on climate action

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

FOI

Criteria

Criteria met if there are multiple staff members employed on 3 days a week or more to be working on the council's Climate Action Plan or other climate change projects equating to a given % of the overall council staff team.

Data is not currently available to benchmark the exact % of staff that are working on implementing their Climate Action Plan or other climate change projects that will be valid for the points. This will be published with the complete methodology when the Scorecard results are published.

Clarifications

Staff is defined as all directly employed council staff (excluding sub/contractors and agency staff). We accept contractors for the role of biodiversity planning officer as long as they are equivalent to 3 days or more a week.

Governance & Finance · Question 9

Have all senior management and councillors in the cabinet or committee chairs received climate awareness training?

Topic

Carbon literacy/awareness training

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

FOI

Criteria

Criteria met if all senior management and councillors elected before May 2023 have received climate awareness, carbon literacy or equivalent training.

Clarifications

Senior Management includes all Chief Executives, deputy Chief Executives and Directors or Heads of Departments, or equivalents, depending on what each council calls them.

Governance & Finance · Question 10a

Has the council raised income for climate action from property development?

Topic

Funding sources

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

High

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria is met if the council has used either the Community Infrastructure Levy or Section 106 to raise any amount of funds for climate action, in England and Wales. There must be explicit reference to these funds being used for climate action, such as being used to deliver the council's climate action plan.

In Scotland, the criteria is met if the council has used section 75 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997.

In Northern Ireland, the criteria is met if the council has used section 76 of the 2011 Planning Act.

Clarifications

The Community Infrastructure Levy is a charge that local authorities can set on new development in order to raise funds to help fund specific projects, such as the infrastructure, facilities and services needed to support new homes and businesses.

Section 106 are legal agreements between Local Authorities and developers linked to planning permissions, which can include councils requiring developers to build specific community infrastructure (such as bus and cycles lanes) or provide finance for specific council projects. They can also be known as planning obligations.

Section 75 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 is similar to section 106, where the council can require conditions of the developers, such as building specific community infrastructure or providing finance for specific council projects.

Section 76 of the 2011 Planning Act is similar to section 106, where the council can require conditions of the developers, such as building specific community infrastructure or providing finance for specific council projects.

Governance & Finance · Question 10b

Has the council launched a Climate Bond, Community Municipal Investment or equivalent?

Topic

Funding sources

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

National Data and Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council has launched a Climate Bond, Community Municipal Investment or equivalent of any amount as a way to raise funds for climate action.

Clarifications

A Climate Bond or Community Municipal Investment are bonds or loans issued by the council's corporate body and administered by a regulated crowdfunding platform. They allow local authorities to raise funds for specific projects through the public investing their money, from as little as £5, through a crowdfunding model.

Marked using data provided by the Green Finance Institute.

Governance & Finance · Question 10c

Has the council raised income for climate action from any other sources?

Topic

Funding sources

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

High

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria is met if the council has raised any amount of funds for climate action through any of the following:

  • Energy Service Company
  • Successful grants in relation to climate action (including active travel, bus or other public transport improvements, home retrofit or energy efficiency measures, rewilding, waste reduction, or biodiversity and conservation projects)
  • Joint Ventures/Special Purpose Vehicles
  • Loans (including through Salix Finance or Public Works Loans Board)
  • Procurement policy – Social Value
Clarifications

A joint venture is a partnership between the council and a private company to provide a service or complete a project where both parties share the benefits and losses.

Governance & Finance · Question 11a

Has the council passed a motion in support of divestment from all fossil fuels from the councils' pension funds?

Topic

Divestment of Pension Funds

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

National Data

Criteria

Points awarded if the motion supports the divestment of the council's own investments.

Points also awarded if the motion supports the divestment of the council's pension investments.

Clarifications

Divestment is the opposite of investment, and consists of stocks, bonds or investment funds that are unethical, and in this case, invested in fossil fuel companies such as Shell, BP and Exxon.

Marked using data provided by UK Divest

Governance & Finance · Question 11b

Has the council's pensions fund committed to divesting from all fossil fuels?

Topic

Divestment of Pension Funds

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

National Data

Criteria

Two tier criteria

Criteria met if the pension fund has committed to partially divesting. For example, it has committed to divesting only from coal, tar sands or oil before 2030.

Additional points if the pension fund has committed to divest from all fossil fuels before 2030.

Clarifications

Divestment is the opposite of investment, and consists of stocks, bonds or investment funds that are unethical, and in this case, invested in fossil fuel companies such as Shell, BP and Exxon.

Where the council does not have control over its own pension investments, such as where the council pension fund is pooled between local authorities, we are looking for a commitment from the pooled pension fund.

Marked using data provided by UK Divest

Governance & Finance · Question 12

Does the council have direct investments in airports or high carbon intensive energy industries?

Topic

Council Investments in High Carbon Industries

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Negatively Scored Question

Points deducted if the council has direct investments or shares, of any size, in airports or any carbon intensive industries.

Clarifications

High carbon intensive industries is defined as coal, oil or gas production (including shale gas or unconventionally gas production).

This section will contribute 10% to a single tier council’s overall score
This section will contribute 10% to a district council’s overall score
This section will contribute 10% to a county council’s overall score
This section will contribute 10% to a Northern Irish council’s overall score

The climate emergency is deeply connected to the ecological emergency. This section looks at what councils can do to protect and increase biodiversity in the area through their direct actions, the management of their green spaces, and biodiversity net gain requirements for developers.

Biodiversity · Question 1

Does the council use peat free compost or soil in all landscaping and horticulture?

Topic

Peat Free

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council has stopped using peat in soils in all landscaping and horticulture such as parks and council properties. A commitment that the council has stopped using peat compost or soil on their website or biodiversity strategy will be sufficient to meet the criteria.

Biodiversity · Question 2

Has the council banned the use of pesticides on all council owned and managed land?

Topic

Pesticides

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

National Data

Criteria

Criteria met if a council has banned the use of pesticides in parks and road verges where they have control. This ban must include the street cleaning/weed control team.

Clarifications

Banning pesticides includes banning glyphosate and any other pesticides that the council have been using.

Marked using data supplied by Pesticide Action Network

Biodiversity · Question 3

Has the council committed to mowing their green spaces less for wildlife?

Topic

Mowing

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council has committed to mow green spaces including parks and road verges less regularly, or if the council has committed to create wildflower habitats within green spaces the local authorities manage.

Biodiversity · Question 4

Are two thirds of the local wildlife sites in the council's area in positive conservation management?

Topic

Wildlife Sites

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

National Data

Criteria

Criteria met if 66% or more of local wildlife sites in the council's area are in positive conservation management.

Only English councils will be assessed on this question, as there is no data available to mark Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

Clarifications

Marked using data provided by DEFRA

Biodiversity · Question 5

Does the council have a target to increase tree cover and is a tree management plan agreed as they grow?

Topic

Tree Cover

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council has a target to increase tree cover which has been included in the Biodiversity Action Plan and/or Tree Strategy, provided the council has agreed a tree management plan to support this target.

Biodiversity · Question 6

Does the council turn off or dim their street light network to reduce light pollution?

Topic

Light Pollution

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if any area of the local authority that has been deemed safe to do so has dimmed street lighting or part night lighting.

Clarifications

Part night lighting is where councils switch off street lights for part of the night in certain areas. Typically areas with increased risk, such as in the vicinity of pedestrian crossings or with higher nighttime use, will be exempted for safety reasons.

Dimming street lighting is where a council will dim street lights for some or all of the night in certain areas, with similar safety exemptions typically in place. LED lights are brighter for the same energy use so have a higher impact on insect populations unless dimmed. Smart dimming street lights, which are dimmer as standard but increase brightness when motion or sound is detected will also be included.

Biodiversity · Question 7

Have the council's parks been awarded Green Flag status?

Topic

Green Flag Awards

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

National Data

Criteria

Two tier criteria

Points awarded for at least one Green Flag park, with further points available for 4 or more Green Flag parks.

Clarifications

Marked using data provided by Green Flags UK

Biodiversity · Question 8

Does the council employ a planning ecologist to scrutinise planning reports for biodiversity net gain?

Topic

Planning Ecologists

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

FOI

Criteria

Criteria met if the council employs a planning ecologist on 3 days or more a week (0.6 FTE).

Clarifications

Planning ecologists are ecologists within the planning department.

Contracted planning ecologists and permanent planning ecologists will both meet the criteria provided the threshold of 3 or more days a week is met.

Biodiversity · Question 9

Does the council require a higher biodiversity net gain commitment from new developments?

Topic

Biodiversity Net-Gain

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

High

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if any policy within the Local Plan states that the council is asking for biodiversity net gain above the minimum 10% required by the UK Government.

This section will contribute 10% to a single tier council’s overall score
This section will contribute 10% to a district council’s overall score
This section will contribute 10% to a county council’s overall score
This section will contribute 10% to a Northern Irish council’s overall score

This section addresses how councils can collaborate with others to improve their own climate action and to support others in the area to decarbonise. More than half of the emissions cuts needed to reach net zero rely on people and businesses taking up low-carbon solutions, and councils can work with those in their local area to enable those solutions.

Collaboration & Engagement · Question 1

Do the council's climate pages include information about behaviour changes that residents can take, and are they easy to find?

Topic

Council website - information for residents

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council website has climate pages that are easy for residents to find and include information about what residents can do to reduce their carbon emissions.

Information about what residents can do must include links to council initiatives for further support. For example, a suggestion to reduce food waste could include a link to order a food waste caddy.

Clarifications

"Easy to find" will be defined as meeting any of the following criteria:

  • Within 5 clicks of the homepage
  • Searchable on the site search bar using any of the phrases ‘climate change’, ‘climate emergency’, ‘climate action’ or ‘environment’
  • There is an environment and/or climate section in the drop down menu

Links for further support can include links to collaborative initiatives with other councils.

Collaboration & Engagement · Question 2a

Has the council published a climate action plan with SMART targets?

Topic

Climate Action Plan

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

High

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council has published a climate action plan that covers the area and includes references to SMART targets since September 2015.

Clarifications

This question will be marked using the criteria for Q3.12.1 of the Climate Action Plan Scorecards.

Collaboration & Engagement · Question 2b

Has the council published an up to date and easy-to-read annual report on their Climate Action Plan?

Topic

Published Annual report

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Points awarded for each of the following criteria:

  • The council has published an annual report since 1st January 2022
  • The annual report is easy-to-read
  • The annual report includes reporting on progress towards the council's climate action plan SMART targets.
Clarifications

We have chosen the date 1st of January 2022 to ensure that the report is being issued on a yearly basis, while allowing for some delays.

"Easy to read" will be defined as clearly meant for public reading, and may include features such as a contents page, an executive summary, definitions for acronyms or complex language, simple English wherever possible, and graphics or tables to aid comprehension and navigation.

Scottish councils are obliged to publish statutory annual reports which will meet the criteria for an annual report, but they must release a more easy-to-read version with reference to SMART targets for further points.

Collaboration & Engagement · Question 3

Has the council lobbied the government for climate action?

Topic

Councils lobbying government

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

FOI

Criteria

Criteria met if the council has sent a letter or had a meeting with national or devolved governments calling for the government to take further action, or asking for councils to receive more funding, powers and climate resources to take climate action.

The criteria will be met if councils have worked on specific, climate-related issues, provided climate is cited as a reason to take action. For example, asking for measures to improve local bus provision will meet the criteria if reducing carbon emissions is cited as a reason to do so.

Clarifications

We have chosen the date 1st of January 2022 to ensure that the report is being issued on a yearly basis, while allowing for some delays.

The criteria will be met if councils have worked on specific, climate-related issues, provided climate is cited as a reason to take action. For example, asking for measures to improve local bus provision will meet the criteria if reducing carbon emissions is cited as a reason to do so.

Collaboration & Engagement · Question 4

Is the council working with external partners or other councils to seek to influence national governments on climate action, or to learn about and share best practice on council climate action?

Topic

Sharing best practice between councils

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Two tier criteria

Point awarded for membership or contributing case studies for at least one of the following organisations, with a further point available for membership or contributing case studies for three or more of the following organisations.

Membership organisations:

  • UK100 (Including the Countryside Climate Network)
  • ADEPT
  • Blueprint Coalition
  • ICLEI
  • Carbon Neutral Cities
  • UK Green Building Council
  • Sustainable Scotland Network
  • Carbon Disclosure Project (including submitting to the CDP since 2019)

Case studies:

  • Friends of the Earth & Ashden case studies
  • LGA (Local Government Association) climate change case studies
  • UK100 case studies
  • WRAP case studies
Clarifications

Further networks or case studies may be added on a case basis if a comparable standard of quality is met.

Working with climate consultants, while important, will not be scored as part of this question.

Collaboration & Engagement · Question 5a

Does the council have an ongoing way for residents to influence the implementation of the council's Climate Action Plan?

Topic

Residents engagement

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Two tier criteria

Point awarded if the council has established a way for residents to influence the implementation of the council's climate action. This may be through:

  • A community engagement group
  • Introducing community, resident or activist representation on a council climate change committee/group
  • Convening or using a local climate action network to improve the implementation of their climate action plan
  • Broader forms of community engagement work such as a series of workshops across the area for different groups of residents.

A further point will be awarded if there is an overarching framework such as a dedicated climate public engagement plan to inform this work.

Clarifications

The way that councils engage with residents can include time bound engagement work such as climate assemblies provided they have been held since 1st January 2022. This is to ensure that the work is ongoing.

Collaboration & Engagement · Question 5b

Does the council's ongoing engagement with residents include those most affected by climate change and climate action policy?

Topic

Representative residents engagement

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Two tier criteria

Point awarded if the council's ongoing engagement (under 5a) specifically aims to engage those most affected by climate change and climate action policies.

A further point available if the council's climate action plan has undergone an equalities impact assessment to identify who is most affected by climate change and climate action policies.

Clarifications

Who is most affected by climate change and climate action policies depends on the local context. Therefore, this could include any community or group of people provided the council has specified they are more affected. For example, this may include people who live near rivers with increasing risk of flooding, or people with physical disabilities who can be affected by policies to reduce traffic and increase active travel such as clean air zones.

Collaboration & Engagement · Question 6

Does the council provide funding for community climate action, for example through an environment fund or climate action fund?

Topic

Funding for community climate action

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

High

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met for a ring-fenced fund that a council has created to spend on climate action locally, either in partnership with the council or for other organisations or volunteer and community groups. The fund must fulfill the following criteria:

  • The fund is at least £10k in size. Where the overall amount of funding has not been stated, it will be assumed that funds awarding individual grants over £1k in size have a total fund of at least £10k.
  • The fund is accessible to community groups, including, where relevant, parish councils.
  • The funding has been open to applications at some point since 1st January 2022, in order to include funds released in waves that may not be open at the time of marking.
Clarifications

More general community or environment funds will be included if they specify that climate change and biodiversity/ecological projects will be supported.

This can be a pooled fund between multiple councils.

Collaboration & Engagement · Question 7

Is the council working in partnership with health services on active travel, home insulation, air pollution, green spaces or other climate action policies?

Topic

Health Services Partnership

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council has embedded health services into their climate change work or if they have embedded climate change into their health partnership work. This includes embedding climate impacts into the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA).

Clarifications

For example, the criteria might be met by including climate experts such as scientists, policy makers and representatives from environmental NGOs on Health and Wellbeing boards and regularly including climate change on the agenda.

Collaboration & Engagement · Question 8

Is the council working in partnership with cultural institutions and organisations to encourage decarbonisation within culture and arts locally?

Topic

Partnerships - Culture

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if there is a partnership between the council and local sports, arts and cultural partnerships, provided the partnership includes any one of the following: funding for climate work, evidence of co-creation with community groups, the decarbonisation of cultural buildings including targets, initiatives that encourage behaviour change such as sustainable travel incentives, or a focus on climate justice.

Collaboration & Engagement · Question 9

Is the council working in partnership with schools or other education settings to deliver climate action that young people can engage with?

Topic

Partnerships - young people

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council supports schools or other education settings by running any of the following schemes in more than one school:

  • EnergySparks or equivalent auditing schemes which require local authority support.
  • Solar schools or other visible low-carbon interventions.
  • Democratic engagement work in schools or other education settings to connect young people to climate decision making, including establishing youth climate panels or parliaments and holding youth climate summits for schools in the area.
Clarifications

This can include initiatives with other councils including county and district partnerships, provided that the council signposts this work from their website.

Collaboration & Engagement · Question 10

Is the council working in partnership with local businesses to encourage decarbonisation?

Topic

Partnerships - Businesses

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council provides support or free tailored advice to businesses in the local area to decarbonise, including through collaborative measures with local businesses, other local authorities, or via the Local Enterprise Partnership.

Clarifications

Examples of support for businesses to decarbonise include funding environmental audits for businesses, free training such as carbon literacy training, or grants to support businesses to decarbonise their properties.

This can include initiatives with other councils including county and district partnerships, provided that the council signposts this work from their website. This question will include schemes that have been available at some point since 1st January 2022, in order to include funds released in waves that may not be open at the time of marking.

Collaboration & Engagement · Question 11

Has the council passed a motion to ban high carbon advertising?

Topic

Communications - advertising

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

High

How will this be marked?

National Data

Criteria

A point will be awarded if the council has passed a motion to ban high carbon advertising on ad sites it controls by introducing a low carbon advertising policy or similar.

Clarifications

High carbon advertising includes advertisements for products and activities that emit high amounts of CO2 emissions such as fossil fuels, diesel, petrol and hybrid car engines and air travel.

This section will contribute 10% to a single tier council’s overall score
This section will contribute 10% to a district council’s overall score
This section will contribute 10% to a county council’s overall score
This section will contribute 10% to a Northern Irish council’s overall score

This section looks at the influencing role councils can play in supporting sustainable food production on their land and in their schools, and circular economy initiatives locally. Councils also have an important role to play in waste and recycling locally and improving this.

Waste Reduction & Food · Question 1a

Has the council banned or reduced single use plastic in its buildings and events?

Topic

Single Use Plastic

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council has successfully stopped using some single use plastic in the council office buildings and events. This excludes schools, leisure centres and other council buildings.

Points will be awarded if the council has done 2 or more of the following

  • Installing water drinking fountains on the council estate/public spaces
  • Banning plastic cups for water
  • Reducing plastic packaging
  • Reducing the use of plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks), plates, straws, beverage stirrers, balloon sticks or food and cup containers made of expanded polystyrene; including their covers and lids at their external events.
Clarifications

Single use plastic or disposable plastics are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. They are made from fossil fuels like petroleum and can be very hard to recycle.

Waste Reduction & Food · Question 1b

Has the council reduced single use plastic at external events on council land, property or public spaces such as roads and parks?

Topic

Single Use Plastic

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Two tier criteria

Point awarded if the council requires event organisers to provide additional information about their environmental commitments that make reference to single use plastic or items that will be used that will be recyclable or compostable.

Further points awarded if the council has banned the use of all of following at these external events: plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks), plates, straws, beverage stirrers, balloon sticks or food and cup containers made of expanded polystyrene; including their covers and lids.

Waste Reduction & Food · Question 2

Has the council taken steps to support a circular economy locally?

Topic

Circular Economy

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council has done 2 or more of the following:

  • Provided funding or space provided for a repair cafe or similar
  • Provided funding or space for exchange shops or similar
  • Signed up as part of circular economy project
Clarifications

A circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible.

Waste Reduction & Food · Question 3

Does the council support initiatives to redistribute surplus food waste?

Topic

Surplus Food

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council supports an organisation that redistributes surplus food within the area through funding, staff or other ways (such as being listed as a partner of the project).

Clarifications

Surplus food is food that can no longer be sold or used in shops or restaurants even though it is still good to eat. Without redistributing this food, that often comes from supermarkets, restaurants or other businesses, it would go to waste or in landfill.

Waste Reduction & Food · Question 4a

Does the council have a sustainable food strategy?

Topic

Food Strategy

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the strategy or work plan covers the whole council area (sometimes called place-based) and includes sections on sustainable food or the climate impacts of food.

The strategy must cover 6 months or more.

Clarifications

The strategy can not be for council only operations, or only focus on healthy eating and obesity.

Waste Reduction & Food · Question 4b

Is the council part of a sustainable food partnership?

Topic

Food Partnership

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

National Data and Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council is listed on the Sustainable Food Places membership list, or, if there is evidence that the council is part of a sustainable food partnership that fulfills the same criteria as Sustainable Food Places membership. The council can either lead the partnership or be a key member, such as on the steering group.

Clarifications

Marked using Sustainable Food Places membership list .

Waste Reduction & Food · Question 5a

Has the council taken steps to support local food growing?

Topic

Local Food Growing

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council has proactively created more space for local food growing through:

  • Providing funding, land, staff or other resources to support a community orchard
  • Providing funding, land, staff or other resources to support schools to have growing spaces
  • Providing funding, land, staff or other resources to support a community or city farm or garden, including edible fruit/veg/herbs patches in public spaces such as parks, rooftops or grass verges.
Clarifications

Allotment space is not included in this question as it is a statutory requirement for councils to provide allotments.

Waste Reduction & Food · Question 6

Do schools in the council area serve less meat in school meals?

Topic

School Catering

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council does any one of the following:

  • There is one complete vegetarian only day a week on the school menu on the council website
  • The council's in-house catering has a policy to reduce meat in meals by 20% and provide plant-based alternatives, or runs a meat-free mondays or other vegetarian only days in schools
  • The council requires external catering providers for schools to reduce meat in meals by 20% and provide plant-based alternatives, or runs a meat-free mondays or other vegetarian only days in schools.
Clarifications

Councils are run by a cabinet or committee structure. A cabinet structure is where there is a council leader and cabinet members (all from the same political party) that make decisions either collectively or sometimes cabinet members have decision making powers within their own remits.

A committee structure is where councils are divided into politically balanced committees that make the decisions.

A Climate Champion (listed as a responsibility) is not valid for a point and neither is Chair or Cabinet member for Environmental Services.

Waste Reduction & Food · Question 7

Does the council provide kerbside food waste recycling?

Topic

Kerbside Food Waste Recycling

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

Volunteer Research

Criteria

Criteria met if the council provides kerbside food waste recycling to most homes in the area.

Waste Reduction & Food · Question 8

How high is the councils' area wide annual recycling rate?

Topic

Recycling Rate

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Medium

How will this be marked?

National Data

Criteria

Three tier criteria

Criteria met if the council has a recycling rate of 50% or more.

Additional points awarded if the council has a recycling rate of 60% and further points awarded if the council has a recycling rate of 70% or more.

Clarifications

Marked using data provided by DEFRA, Stats Wales, SEPA and DAERA-NI.

Waste Reduction & Food · Question 9

How low is the councils' area wide level of household waste produced?

Topic

Household Waste Amount

Question Weighting Find out more in Question Weightings within section

Low

How will this be marked?

National Data

Criteria

Criteria met if the annual residual waste in kg per household in the area is 300-400kg per household.

Further points awarded if the annual residual waste in kg per household in the area is under 300kg per household.

This question is scoring councils on the amount of residual waste (kg) per household in each council.

Clarifications

Residual waste includes waste sent to landfill and incineration. It excludes waste that is recycled or composted.

Marked using data provided by DEFRA, Stats Wales and SEPA

Combined Authorities

We have not yet published the draft methodology for the Council Climate Action Scorecards for Combined Authorities. Combined Authorities have varying powers within themselves and a lot of the Scorecard questions can't be applied. We will score all Combined Authorities and publish the results in 2023. The draft methodology for Combined Authorities will be published prior to this. We plan to share the amended Scorecards for Combined Authorities soon.

Section weightings

SectionSingle TierDistrictCountyNorthern Ireland
Buildings & Heating20%25%20%20%
Transport20%5%30%15%
Planning & Land Use15%25%5%15%
Governance & Finance15%15%15%20%
Biodiversity10%10%10%10%
Collaboration & Engagement10%10%10%10%
Waste Reduction & Food10%10%10%10%

Question weighting within sections

This draft methodology does not show the exact number of points allocated for each question. These will be published alongside the results of the Council Climate Action Scorecards in Autumn 2023.

At this stage, you can see an indication as to which questions will be worth more points than others, shown as low, medium, or high importance. All of the actions that we are marking in our Scorecard questions are important: all of these actions will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are actions that we want to see councils undertake, but within this, there are some actions that have a bigger and more direct impact on reducing emissions.

The questions that are weighted high are those which we consider to have the biggest impact on greenhouse gas emission reductions and a sustained long-term impact. For example, low emission policies implemented in Local Plans will have a huge impact on all new homes built over the next 10 years. Questions that are also key to enabling climate actions for councils are weighted high, such as whether they are finding finance for their climate actions or whether they have an annual Climate Action Plan Update.

Areas of action where the impact on greenhouse gas emissions is one step removed, or where the impact on emissions is reliant on other actors and actions, such as the national UK Government and devolved assemblies, are marked as medium.

For example, employing a retrofit officer is a really important action that councils can take, but this action alone won’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions from homes and buildings. It’s the work that this person will do, with other actors and funding that will lead to emission reductions. Another example is recycling; whilst councils can have a big role in improving recycling rates, it is also dependent on residents’ behaviour, national policy and how supermarkets package their food.

Questions that are weighted low include all actions which relate solely to the councils' own activities. These questions include: changing council processes to be more climate friendly; actions where councils have limited direct influence; and actions that are about the climate action strength of written strategies and plans. This is because council-only greenhouse gas emissions are a tiny part of an area’s overall emissions, between 2% and 7%.

These Scorecards focus on action, so whilst there is benefit in us scoring the strength of written plans, this too is weighted low. For the Planning section, we are scoring the strength of a councils’ Local Plan and for this section, questions measuring the strength of their written Local Plan have been given low, medium and high weightings. This is because we recognise that sustainability requirements in a Local Plan are a significant change in policy.

There are also some questions that will be scored negatively: councils will lose marks if they have taken actions that actively increase greenhouse gas emissions reduction. There are a total of three negatively scoring questions, found in the Transport, Governance & Finance and Planning sections.

What will we be marking?

Publicly available council information

Unless stated otherwise in the question criteria, we will be scoring councils on any actions that they have taken since 1st January 2019 up until March 2023 (exact date to be confirmed soon). We chose this date because it was in 2019 that councils started declaring climate emergencies and we want to score councils on their action since this (renewed) commitment to climate action came into effect.

For example, if a council approved a solar panel farm in 2017 and no further renewable energy since then, the council would not get a point for the relevant question here. This is because councils need to be taking consistent climate action, so we would expect councils to be consistently pursuing actions such as this since 1st January 2019.

This does not entirely mean that councils' scores won't reflect action taken before 1st January 2019. For example, if a council worked hard to improve the EPC ratings of its council homes before 2019 through retrofitting and other insulation measures, then their average EPC ratings of these homes is likely to be higher, and they would therefore score higher for this particular question.

Whilst these Scorecards focus on council action, there are some questions that look at the details of particular policies. When we look at policies and strategies, they must be in date. For example if a Local Plan is dated 2015-2025, then this will be scored.

We will be looking for evidence that is publicly available. When we start marking in the new year, we will be looking at a wide variety of documents. Documents where this evidence might be available that we will consider when marking includes, but is not limited to:

(Used across all sections)
  • News stories on council websites
  • News stories in local media
  • Climate Action Plan Updates
  • Climate sections of council websites
Buildings & Heating
  • Housing strategies
  • Fuel poverty strategies
Transport
  • Transport strategy
Governance & Finance
  • Corporate Plan
  • Medium-term Financial Plan
  • Risk register
  • Full Council minutes
  • Infrastructure Funding Statement
  • Pension Investment strategies
  • Procurement strategies
  • Treasury management strategies
  • Statement of Accounts
Planning
  • Local Plans and related documents
  • Supplementary Planning documents
  • Parking Standards
Biodiversity
  • Biodiversity strategy
  • Tree strategy
  • Local Plan or relevant Development Plan documents
Collaboration & Engagement
  • Climate Action Plan
  • Climate public engagement strategies
  • Joint Strategic Needs Assessment
  • Health partnership pages
  • Local Enterprise Partnership pages
Waste Reduction & Food
  • Waste strategies
  • Food strategies
  • External event policies
  • School catering contracts and tenders

National data

For some of the questions, we are using external data, compiled by the UK Government, the Devolved Nations or other national non-governmental organisations. We are using this data for specific questions only and the use of this data is not an endorsement of the organisation or government body. Unless otherwise stated in the question criteria, we will use the most recent national data available up until 1st August 2023.

Freedom of Information requests

You can see the current draft list of the FOI requests we plan to send here. We will be sending FOI requests using WhatDoTheyKnow (run by mySociety). All FOI responses sent via WhatDoTheyKnow will be made public and linked to the Scorecards when published. Unless otherwise stated in the FOI request, we are marking council climate action from 1st January 2019 up until January 2023 when the FOI requests will be sent out.

To find out more about how we created each section and why questions or topics were or were not included, check out our blog series on the draft methodology here.

Councils that are changing structures

A small number of councils will be changing structure and forming new council structures from 1st April 2023. Following consultations with the councils that this affects we have decided that, where this is the case, the new council will not be scored in the 2023 Scorecards. However, to ensure complete transparency we will include the new council names on the relevant Scorecard results lists, with a note that this council has not been scored this year.

In order to provide a complete as possible picture of council climate action in the UK from 2019 to 2023, we have decided to score councils that stop existing from 1st April 2023. Information about these old councils will only be visible through the new council name on our Scorecard site. These old councils won’t appear, or be scored against, other current councils. We recognise that not all evidence may be publicly available for old councils. However, we think it is important to score as much as we can, as some of this information will still be available, so that councils and campaigners in the new council structures can identify the best practice that previously existed in their area and adopt this best practice into the new council structures.

Developing the scoring system

Timeline showing: April to August 2022, research and development; July to September 2022, one-to-one and sector-wide consultations; November to December 2022, publish finalised metrics for Scorecards; February to March 2023, first marking with volunteers; April to May 2023, five week right of reply period; Summer 2023, scoring audit; and Autumn 2023, scorecards launch

This is the first time a comprehensive list of actions that councils can and are taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has been created with the actions being scored. Therefore, extensive desk-based research was carried out to create this methodology. Hundreds of documents were read as part of this process. Some of the key documents that were the foundation for the research were:

We also carried out extensive consultation and benefited from advice and feedback from a wide variety of people and organisations, through our Advisory Group, sector-specific consultations, one-to-one conversations and group consultations.

Advisory Group

Since May 2022, Climate Emergency UK has had an Advisory Group to guide the creation of the Scorecard methodology. This Advisory Group includes council staff, councillors and experts within the sector who have been meeting monthly to provide detailed feedback on each question as they have been created.

The membership of the Advisory Group is:

  • Cara Jenkinson (Cities Manager - Ashden)
  • Judi Kilgallon (Climate Transformation Manager - Scottish Improvement Service)
  • Jon Burke (Gloucester City Council Climate Officer)
  • Leanne Wilson (Climate Change Officer at North of Tyne Combined Authority)
  • Simon Jermy (Campaigner with Climate Emergency Manchester)
  • Cllr Kevin Frea (Climate Portfolio Holder and Deputy Leader at Lancaster City Council)
  • Cllr Donna Stimson (Climate Lead at Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council)
  • Davila Coolen (Environmental Engineering background and former CE UK Scorecard volunteer)
  • Mandi Bisset (sustainability consultant and former CE UK Scorecard volunteers)
  • Alex Parsons (mySociety data expert)

A final, complete review of the draft methodology was conducted by the Advisory group, along with:

  • Kooj Chuhan (Crossing Footprints)
  • Caroline George (London Environment Directors' Network)
  • Kiran Crawford (former and current CE UK volunteer)
  • Natalia Kotowska (former and current CE UK volunteer)
  • Climate Change Manager at Leicester City Council

Consultations

Climate Emergency UK has spoken to over 90 different organisations in the creation of the Scorecards methodology. You can see the majority of organisations we spoke to in our Thank You section below.

We conducted 121 conversations and small group consultations on each section of the Scorecards. We also held two larger consultations, one with council staff and councillors, which almost 200 people attended, and another with campaign groups and external organisations that work with councils on climate action.

Trial marking

Staff conducted a trial mark on a select number of councils to test the draft questions. Following this, a volunteer trial mark was also carried out to further test the draft questions on a different, select number of councils.

A small number of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests were also sent out to a random selection of councils. This was important to learn how best to ask the FOI questions to create the least amount of work for councils when responding and for us when collecting the data. The recipients were chosen at random in order to have a variety of council types in the trial. You can see all the trial FOI requests on WhatDoTheyKnow. Please note that these are different to the final FOI requests included in the Scorecards methodology, and some trial FOI requests will not be used this year.

Why these sections?

Buildings & Heating

Buildings and Heating is one of the biggest sectors of carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. This section aims to cover the main actions that councils can take to support both private rented and owned homes and socially renting households to reduce the emissions from their homes.

Transport

Transport is the other biggest sector of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. This section covers the main enabling actions councils can take to reduce car use and encourage more sustainable transport within their area.

Governance & Finance

This section aims to understand to what extent climate action has been incorporated and embedded across the whole of the council in all its activities and services in its decision making, forward planning and structures. This section also looks at how councils are raising funds for climate action and whether the councils’ investments are sustainable or supporting high carbon infrastructure and industries.

Planning

This section focuses primarily on how councils are using their planning powers, primarily through their Local Plans, to ensure low emission new buildings and homes, as well as ensuring new developments are built to minimise their environmental impact. This section also covers the renewable energy generation and fossil fuel generation planning applications in the area.

Biodiversity

The climate emergency is deeply connected to the ecological emergency. This section looks at what councils can do to protect and increase biodiversity in the area through their direct actions, the management of their green spaces, and biodiversity net gain requirements for developers.

Collaboration & Engagement

This section addresses how councils can collaborate with others to improve their own climate action and to support others in the area to decarbonise. More than half of the emissions cuts needed to reach net zero rely on people and businesses taking up low-carbon solutions, and councils can work with those in their local area to enable those solutions.

Waste Reduction & Food

This section looks at the influencing role councils can play in supporting sustainable food production on their land and in their schools, and circular economy initiatives locally. Councils also have an important role to play in waste and recycling locally and improving this.

Why these weightings?

Different sections have been weighted differently, and the reasons for this are explained below.

Transport and Buildings & Heating

These are the areas where councils can have the biggest impact on area wide greenhouse gas emissions. It is also where single tier councils can take the most effective action to reduce emissions; therefore they have been given the highest weighting. County councils have more powers over transport than district councils, which is why this section is weighted higher for county councils and a lot lower for district councils.

Planning & Land Use and Governance & Finance

These sections have a less direct impact on emissions reduction. However, they have a considerable impact on enabling climate action and embedding it in longer-term policies. All council types have similar power and responsibilities in Governance & Finance and the actions scored in this section demonstrate the council’s commitment to reducing emissions and embedding climate action across the council. Planning & Land Use is one of the areas where single tier and district councils can be the most effective and also hold a lot of power, both for mitigation and adaptation, hence the higher weighting here than for the final three sections. County councils are not planning authorities which explains their lower section weighting for the Planning & Land Use section.

Collaboration & Engagement, Biodiversity and Waste Reduction & Food

For these sections all councils have the same section weightings. This is because, while still vital, the actions scored in these three sections have the lowest direct impact on emission reduction, and within them, all council types have similar powers in relation to what they can influence. It is also harder to assess the effective engagement and communication of a council, and typically councils that effectively engage their residents will have more buy-in and be able to be more ambitious, so they will be able to score more elsewhere.

All councils have less powers over food. For biodiversity, waste reduction and food, a significant amount of actions and emissions are outside of councils’ control, so a lower weighting has been given to these sections to reflect this. This is not a reflection of the wider importance of biodiversity, food and waste to address the climate emergency.

The powers that Northern Irish councils have are different to other nations. For example, Northern Irish councils have less control over Transport, Planning & Land Use and Buildings & Heating

Further info

To find out more about Climate Emergency UK please visit our website. You can also explore the Council Climate Plan Scorecards from January 2023.

If you have any further comments, questions or feedback please use our contact form here.

Thank you

These Scorecards would not have been possible without the advice, comments and feedback from the many different organisations we spoke to, as well as our trial volunteer markers. Special thanks to mySociety, who have provided technical support in the creation of the Scorecard methodology. We also want to thank the many councillors and council staff we spoke to, who represented all council types and work across the four nations. Thank you also to the more than 90 different organisations we spoke to for comment and advice on the Scorecards, on specific questions, sections or general advice. The vast majority of the organisations we spoke to are listed here in alphabetical order. Thank you to:

  • 20’s Plenty for Us
  • Abundance Investment
  • Active Travel Academy
  • Ad Free Cities
  • ADEPT
  • Anthesis
  • Architects Action Network
  • Association of Local Government Ecologists
  • Badvertising
  • Brighton Peace and Environment Centre
  • British Lung Foundation
  • Buglife
  • Campaign for Better Transport
  • Carbon Co-op
  • Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy
  • CLES
  • Climate Conversations
  • Climate Emergency Manchester
  • Climate Museum UK
  • Collective for Climate Action
  • Community Energy England
  • Community Rights Planning
  • CoMoUK
  • Crossing Footprints
  • Culture Declares Emergency
  • Cycle Streets
  • Cycling UK
  • Democracy Club
  • Department of Transport
  • Energy Savings Trust
  • Food For Life
  • Food Matters
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Generation Rent
  • Green Finance Institute
  • Green Flag (Keep Britain Tidy)
  • Institute for Local Government
  • Involve
  • Living Streets
  • Local Partnerships
  • London Cycling Campaign
  • Making Places Together
  • mySociety
  • National Farmers' Union
  • Passivhaus Homes
  • Pesticides Action Network
  • PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)
  • Place Based Carbon Calculator
  • Planning Aid Wales
  • Planning Scotland
  • Plantlife
  • Plastic Free Communities
  • Possible
  • ProVeg
  • Quantum Strategy & Technology
  • Solar Together
  • Southampton Climate Action Network
  • Sustain
  • Sustrans
  • The Campaign to Protect Rural England
  • The Climate Change Committee
  • The Soil Association
  • The Wildlife Trusts
  • Town and Country Planning Association
  • Transport Action Network
  • Transport for New Homes
  • Tree Economics
  • Turing Institute
  • UK Divest
  • Waste Data Flow
  • Wirral Environmental Network
  • Wildlife & Countryside Link
  • Winchester Action on Climate Change
  • Zap Map

And a special thanks to our trial volunteer markers

Les G Kiran C Edward H Kristina Alan S Rebecca C Katherine W-G Heloisa D Murali T Terry J Jenny P Hardip D Deborah C Matt L