Councils up and down the country have made commitments to take climate action. Local communities must play a part in making sure they deliver on these commitments. Find out what part your council can play and how you can work with them to help tackle the climate crisis.

02 Dec 2022

Climate Action Plan for councils

Councils have a key part to play in addressing the climate and ecological emergencies. Climate change, nature restoration the COVID-19 recovery and the cost of living crisis need to be addressed simultaneously. The good news is that action on climate change and nature is good for equity, the economy and our health.

To help guide them in the right direction, we’ve created a template Climate Action Plan for councils in England and Wales, with 50 concrete steps they should take. We also have a 40 point template Climate Action Plan for councils in Northern Ireland.

Thanks to campaigns run by Friends of the Earth groups and other community groups, the majority of councils have now adopted Climate Action Plans. But they need the help of local residents to make sure these plans are as ambitious as possible and work for the whole community– that’s where you come in.

We need communities to keep working together to convince their councils that an ambitious climate action plan is necessary in its own right and will also have benefits for health and equity. It’s particularly important that Climate Action Plans work for those most at risk of the impacts of the climate and ecological emergencies- for example people of colour who are disproportionately exposed to high levels of air pollution, or lower-income households in flood zones who cannot afford to make their homes flood-resistant.

We need communities to keep working together to convince their councils that an ambitious Climate Action Plan is necessary in its own right and will also have benefits for health and equity. It’s particularly important that Climate Action Plans work for those most at risk of the impacts of the climate and ecological emergencies – for example, people of colour who are disproportionately exposed to high levels of air pollution, or lower-income households in flood zones, where people can't afford to make their homes flood-resistant.

The template Climate Action Plans can be adapted to suit your area – after all, you and your community know what’s best for your local area.

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, or the Climate Action Plan for Northern Ireland.
  2. Discuss the Climate Action Plan with your group and allies – you might find our Explainer Guides helpful. Then edit the actions to reflect your local context.
  3. Research what your council is already doing, particularly whether it has a Climate Action Plan. You can find out if your council already has a plan and how it compares to other plans in Climate Emergency's council scorecards.
  4. Prioritise the most important actions for your council to take straight away. Our handy postcode lookup tool is a good place to start.
  5. Get your community behind the plan. Organise online events and panel discussions.
  6. Listen to what others think about how the plan could be improved and implemented. In particular, listen to the voices of marginalised communities who might not typically be heard in council decision making – for example, people of colour, people on lower incomes or young people. If these communities aren’t represented in your group, then reach out to community groups where they are. Find out more about Building Local Alliances to get you started.
  7. Lobby the council to adopt a plan or to make their plan more ambitious if they already have one. Start an online petition, organise socially distanced events and demonstrations, talk to the local media, and arrange meetings with your local councillors.
Types of local authorities and the powers they have
Which actions can each type of local authority take? Friends of the Earth

Table: Functions and powers for different tiers of government in England

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 [email protected] Ready to get stuck in? Take a look at our detailed guide for developing an ambitious Plan with your council.

Climate Action