Councils up and down the country have declared climate emergencies. But what happens next?  

17 Oct 2019

Climate Action Plan for councils

We need councils to turn their political promises in to concrete action by adopting a climate action plan – leading the way where the national government continues to fail.

To help get them started, we’ve created a template Climate Action Plan for councils in England and Wales, with 50 concrete steps they should take.

But they need to know local residents want it – that’s where you come in. We need communities to join together to convince their councils to adopt an ambitious climate action plan. The 50-point plan can be adapted to suit your area – after all, you know best what your community needs.

And as more and more communities and councils take climate action across the UK, pressure will mount on the national government to do the same. So let’s get to it.

How to use the plan

  1. Download the Climate Action Plan for councils in England and Wales.
  2. Discuss the Climate Action Plan with your group and allies - you might find our Explainer Guides helpful. Then edit the 50 actions to reflect your local context.
  3. Research what your council is already doing and what it has already committed to doing.
  4. Prioritise the most-important actions for your council to take straight away.
  5. Get your community behind the plan. Put on events, panel discussions, street stalls, film screenings.
  6. Listen to what others think about the plan, how it could be improved and implemented.
  7. Lobby the council to adopt the plan. Start an online petition, organise events and demonstrations, talk to the local media, and arrange meetings with your local councillors.

The nitty gritty

This Climate Action Plan has been made for councils in England and Wales and is not applicable to those in Scotland or Northern Ireland. We’ll be creating a version for Northern Ireland soon.

Some actions in the Plan will not be relevant for all councils due to the different powers and responsibilities they have.

There are different types of local authorities:

  • two-tier local authorities (eg county councils, district councils);
  • unitary authorities;
  • metropolitan authorities;
  • and combined local authorities.

Some combined authorities have a mayor who has specific powers over local decision-making.

We've put together a table to show you which local authorities can take which actions.

Types of local authorities and the powers they have
Which actions can each type of local authority take? Friends of the Earth

Your council’s Climate Action Plan should take into account the different needs, geography and demographics of your local area.

In dense urban areas, like central London boroughs, homes will be responsible for the majority of emissions. In smaller cities, or more suburban or rural areas, transport may be the largest source.

That's why we're encouraging groups to prioritise the parts of the plan that are most relevant for their area.

Even so, we'd like all councils to commit to improving decision-making, raising money and campaigning – as these actions really can have a big impact on the success of the overall plan.

We want to see councils pass motions committing to all of these actions, or at least a large majority. The next stage will be deciding how to hold councils to account for these commitments.

As our campaign progresses and we continue to share and learn from each other, we will likely adapt the Climate Action Plan for councils. So please let us know if you have any feedback by emailing climateaction@foe.co.uk.