Councils receiving top marks include Manchester, Solihull and Edinburgh, which all scored over 80%. The average score across the 409 UK councils was 43%.
Luton’s climate action plan scored just 19%, putting it in the lower reaches of the ranking – though better than the fifth of councils have no plan at all, and thus scored zero.
Climate Emergency UK, which was founded to track and support climate emergency declarations, used a team of volunteers to read council action plans. Scores were allocated based on community engagement, clear goals, costings, timelines and political commitment. The full checklist can be viewed here, along with the methodology.
This methodology was released after Luton’s climate plan was published, and sources at the council expressed frustrations with the process that led to Luton’s low score. The Climate Emergency UK assessors only looked at Climate Action Plans as a single document. Luton council provided supporting documentation along with the plan that would have filled in more of the criteria, but only the single document was assessed.
The timing of the rankings is not ideal for Luton either, as an updated action plan is due in Spring 2022. The existing plan is clear in the introduction that “this is only a starting point”, and that “this plan does not describe how the borough as a whole will reach carbon neutrality.”
While the rankings may not tell the whole story in Luton, they do provide a baseline, and the Climate Emergency UK project brings together council plans in one place for easy comparison and learning.
For more on the Council Climate Scorecards, see this interview with Isaac Beevor, who is from Luton and is currently Campaigns and Policy Officer at Climate Emergency UK. You may also wish to support the charity’s crowdfunder to expand their process to include climate action, and assess how well councils are translating their plans into actual emissions reductions.