How to work with your local authority to tackle the climate emergency and restore nature. A step-by-step action plan.

30 Aug 2019

Context

Local authorities have an important role in cutting carbon emissions and solving the climate crisis.

Most are doing far too little to tackle the climate emergency. Some are even making decisions that will actually increase emissions.

Austerity has hit council budgets hard, but that isn't an excuse for the lack of action we're seeing. There are no-cost and low-cost actions local authorities can take to stop climate chaos. There are also ways they can raise money or borrow it.

It hasn't helped that there are no legal requirements for local authorities to reduce planet-warming carbon emissions. The Climate Change Act sets national carbon budgets, not local ones.

As a result, councils have failed to grasp what is expected of them. For local authorities to implement their own carbon-reduction programmes, and help the UK meets its climate targets, they need to know that local people want them to. That’s where you come in.

Local Climate Action plan

We've researched 50 actions local authorities can do right now to reduce emissions and help avert climate chaos. Download our Local Climate Action Plan now.

While many councils have declared a climate emergency, few have concrete plans on how to tackle it. Our Local Climate Action Plan gives them a step-by-step template on what to do.

We need Climate Action groups like yours to put pressure on local authorities to adopt this plan.

More and more councils adopting climate action plans will put more and more pressure on the government to take urgent action too. As well as reducing local carbon emissions, we'll be sending out a strong message: we will fix our climate and restore nature in the UK.

How to use the plan

  1. Download the Local Climate Action Plan.
  2. Insert your local authority's name.
  3. Discuss the 50 numbered actions with your group and allies.
  4. Prioritise the most-important actions for your council to take straight away.
  5. Tick off the actions your council is already doing.
  6. Edit actions that could realistically be more ambitious for your area.
  7. Get your community behind the plan. Put on events, panel discussions, street stalls, film screenings.
  8. Listen to what others think about the plan, how it could be improved and implemented.
  9. 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

Some actions 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 local 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 local authorities pass motions committing to all of these actions, or at least a large majority (eg 40). 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 our Local Climate Action Plan. So please let us know if you have any feedback by emailing climateaction@foe.co.uk. Thank you.