Climate action: council plans

How can we adopt a clear and detailed strategic plan, and how is it mainstreaming climate change mitigation and adaptation?

Climate change hub

Climate change action plans 

We are collecting council climate change action plans for councils to compare with one another. Please do send across your own to and we shall upload them here.

LGA resources

LGA and UKSSD - Sustainable development guide for councils

The Local Government Association and the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development launched a guide to help councils engage with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at a time when many are starting to re-think the role of local government in leading places and empowering people. 

The UN’s 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, adopted by all UN member states, are an urgent call for action by all countries to end poverty and other deprivations to improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change.

The joint guide with UKSSD reinforces the need for coherent decision-making between all levels of government at a time of growing consensus regarding the importance of an economically and environmentally sustainable recovery.  

Examples of councils that have been working towards the SDGs include:  

Newcastle City Council made a political commitment to mainstream the SDGs in its policies, activity and programmes in 2019. Working closely with SDG experts at University of Newcastle, it is now embedding the SDGs in the work of the City Futures Board, formed to shape the city’s renewal following the Covid-19 pandemic. Bristol City Council, in partnership with the University of Bristol, launched the UK’s first Voluntary Local Review on the SDGs in 2019 and has embedded the Goals in its One City Plan to work with stakeholders across the city towards a more coherent plan for the future. A follow-up handbook for use by other cities wanting to undertake similar local voluntary reviews has also been produced.

Despite facing enormous pressures and sustained funding cuts, councils have maintained the provision of essential services for their communities and continue to look ahead at how they can work closely with the Government to achieve its targets, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  

As councils across the country continue to lead their communities through the coronavirus pandemic, it is vitally important that they have the resources and support to lead them through the recovery and continue to fight against climate change.

  • Liverpool City Council’s forthcoming City Plan contains a clear commitment to the SDGs from all partner organisations. The council has worked with the 2030hub in Liverpool to inform the selection of aims, priorities and metrics for the City Plan.
Waste Management

Local residents take a keen interest in what happens to their bins. We support high recycling rates for householders and businesses and are working hard to make sure councils are able to reduce landfill and tackle climate change through increasing recycling.

There are approximately 23 million dwellings in England most of which require a weekly or fortnightly refuse and recycling collection. Councils spend £852m per year on waste collection, and given that many contracts were negotiated several years ago and are ready for renewal, even a small efficiency saving of say 5 per cent would equate to a £42.6m reduction in spend in this area.

In 2015 we supported council across England to run projects intended to bring about efficiencies and savings to council's waste and recycling budget. You can find some of the learning beneath:

Webinar: Greener living - what impact has the pandemic had on local climate action? March 16 2021
  • Solace and the LGA partnered to deliver an exploratory webinar which discussed the impact that Covid-19 has had on local climate change reduction action plans.
  • The webinar focused on three themes to assess Covid-19’s impact. The first, “transport and travel”, looked at travel patterns have we seen over the pandemic, and how they differ compared to pre-2020. The second, “valuing local”, examined how a people-centred approach to local economic development can support a green recovery, and the final case study, “valuing green spaces” looked at how residents have valued their local green spaces and biodiversity during lockdowns. Case studies were presented by officers from Lewes District Council, Surrey County Council, and RLB Kingston.
  • The session featured a keynote speech and insights from Farhana Yamin, the leading international environmental lawyer and climate change and development policy expert. She outlined the key factors of successful climate action at both the grassroots community level, and in formal policy spaces.

Solace and LGA Webinar Greener Living - presentation (PDF)

Resources from elsewhere 

Searchable database of council climate action plans

Climate Emergency UK and mySociety have created an open, searchable database of council climate action plans which supports browsing and comparison of different councils’ plans, and search over the text of all the plans in one place.

Access the database here.

ADEPT, Defra and LAAP Good Practice Guidance for Local Government (2019) 

The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT), Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Local Adaptation Advisory Panel (LAAP) have developed a guide focusing on climate change adaption. This guide demonstrates the role local government plays in preparing for impacts of climate change and the reasons for adapting to it. They provide a guide to adaptation activity for various areas, including infrastructure, business, public health and corporate plans, policies and performance. 

LSE - Transition Pathway Initiative Tool (2017)

The London School of Economics’ (LSE) Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment have created a tool, which enables the assessment of how companies are managing climate change and the risk it poses to their business. 

Leeds University - A Civic Plan for a Climate Emergency (2019)

Paul Chatterton from Leeds University has produced a discussion document suggesting ways to meet the 1.5°C Paris Agreement target. Paul discusses the issues around climate emergency and four main action areas: creating a zero-emission civic energy for cities by shifting city energy onto a green energy supply; creating a socially just mobility plan, where half of all journeys will need to be taken via bus or active travel by 2030 and all other vehicles will be electric; ensuring nature is considered and factored in as the core of future city developments; and significant changes to the role of city economies to ensure that it supports the community more. 

LCCP - Basic Aadaption Resources (2020)

The London Climate Change Partnership (LCCP) have released a webpage highlighting basic adaptation resources available for climate change. With particular focus on their “quick actions” section, the webpage suggests simple measures organisations could consider for their adaptation plans. To name a few, it includes signing up to the environmental agency’s flood warning service, mapping longer term decisions and investments and appointing a leader with responsibility for adaptation. 

Imperial College London - Co-benefits of Climate Change Mitigation in the UK (2019)

Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute have released a briefing on the co-benefits of climate change mitigation, where other sectors such as public health and the economy benefit from the positive effects of climate change mitigation. 

Friends of the Earth: '33 Actions Local Authorities can take on Climate Change' (2019)

Friends of the Earth’s report identifies 33 actions that local authorities can take to reduce carbon emissions, under the following groups: transport, buildings, waste, energy, procurement, green spaces and influence.

Ashden and Friends of the Earth - 31 Climate Actions for Councils (2019)

Ashden and Friends of the Earth (FoE) have put together an evidence-based list of the most effective actions councils can take on climate change. They have produced 31 climate actions and have collated it in an excel spreadsheet.

C40 Cities - Climate Action Planning (2019)

C40 Cities explain the reasoning for why climate action planning is important and provide a video, where cities explain the actions they are taking on climate change. This varies from reducing vehicular emissions, improving building energy efficiency to strengthening their ability to dealing with inevitable impacts of climate change. 

C40 Cities - Climate Action Planning Framework (2019)

The Climate Action Planning framework has been developed to support cities develop climate action plans aligned with the objectives of the Paris agreement. The framework was developed by cities participating in C40’s Climate Action Planning pilot programme and covers four key components of climate action planning: emissions neutrality, resilience, inclusivity and governance and collaboration.

C40 Cities - Focused Acceleration - A strategic approach to climate action in cities by 2030

C40 Cities have produced a report, analysing the biggest opportunities for cities to accelerate the reduction of their carbon emissions. It recommends cities focus on twelve opportunities across four action areas: decarbonising the electricity grid, optimising energy efficiency in buildings, enabling next generation mobility and improving waste management. 

C40 Cities - Adapting to Climate Change (2019)

C40 Cities have stated why mitigation and adaptation actions should be prioritised based on impact, benefits and ability to fulfil objectives and developed with the community and partners. There is a video where city practitioners explain why mitigation and adaptation should be combined in action plans.

The Exponential Roadmap

Highlighting the 36 solutions that can scale exponentially to halve Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2030 worldwide. Scaling of solutions comes from sharp policy, from climate leadership by companies and cities and from a finance and technology shift towards green solutions with exponential potential.

UK Fires

Communicating a road map to absolute zero from now until beyond 2050.

Hampshire County Council - Climate Change Behavioural Insights

Hampshire County Council, along with many other local authorities has declared a climate emergency and is working with partners to develop a strategy and action plan to achieve carbon reduction targets. This research was designed to support local authorities to work with their partners to reduce carbon consumption through changed behaviours.

Committee on Climate Change: 2020 Progess Report to Parliament

This is the Committee’s 2020 report to Parliament, assessing progress in reducing UK emissions over the past year. The report includes new advice to the UK Government on securing a green and resilient recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. It recommends that Ministers seize the opportunity to turn the COVID-19 crisis into a defining moment in the fight against climate change. For the first time, the Committee sets out its recommendations government department by government department

Notable practice

Cornwall Council

Aim The council is working with multiple partners to help drive the positive impacts of a green focussed recovery and renewal approach within its communities and the economy.

Actions It has recently launched the Carbon Neutral Cornwall Hive webpage, that promotes best practice sharing between the council and grass roots community groups. It has changed the criteria of its Community Infrastructure Levy to be focussed on climate change, with £500k available for projects and recently launched a Carbon Neutral Cornwall crowdfunding campaign with 3 match funding pots available.

Further Information is available.

Council contact: Mark Holmes