Local councils & climate emergency

Since Bristol declared in November 2018, over 260 councils have declared climate emergencies with ‘net-zero targets’ from 2028 (Nottingham) to beyond 2050. The most common is 2030. The UK Parliament declared a climate emergency in May 2019 and the government amended the Climate Change Act target to a legally binding ‘net-zero-carbon by 2050’. Even if councils do not declare a more ambitious target they will still have to participate in achieving the national target of net zero by 2050 and will need a plan.

Everything comes within the compass of climate change. This is an opportunity to re-imagine the way we do everything. If combined with a good Climate Emergency Plan of Action, the declarations have the opportunity to galvanise action within the council and in the community. Community energy can be indispensable to both; it is key that community energy features, with justifications, in those plans even if community energy does not yet exist in that area. 

There are huge opportunities for community energy organisations to address many problems in the process of achieving a zero-carbon local area, including increased health, better air, resource efficiency, reduced operating costs, more resilient communities and more. Climate emergency declarations and planning offer a valuable context for advocating for action and building partnerships with your local authority.

Climate emergency declarations

  • Carbon Copy - interactive map showing net zero target dates and links to council action plans.
  • Climateemergency.uk - full list of councils that have declared a climate emergency and information to help you get your council to declare.
  • Friends of the Earth - assessment of how each council is doing on addressing climate change.
  • Extinction Rebellion (XR) Climate & Ecological Emergency group - briefing on how to support, encourage and push councils to declare and agree to XR demands including for a Citizens’ Assembly.
  • Extinction Rebellion (XR) - follow-on briefing to make sure that Declarations are meaningful, which has sections on energy and housing.

Councils and community energy

  • Local Government Association - a case study of Newport City Council working in collaboration with Egni Co-op.
  • Bristol Energy Network, Bristol City Council & Community Energy England - a practical toolkit to help community groups and local authorities to help them understand each other better and to provide ideas for how to work together and harness the power of local energy (download below).
  • Community Energy South & Essex Council - Community Energy Pathway that can be used as a model for other councils.
  • Cornwall Council - energy efficiency and renewable energy advice note on neighbourhood planning.

Climate action resources for councils

  • The Energy Systems Catapult has developed an excellent platform for local authorities working on net zero planning with lots of resources and tools.
  • Centre for Sustainable Energy - Impact, a tool to give small communities (parishes and towns) usable data on their carbon emissions and give a clear idea of their main ‘impact areas’.
  • Ashden - toolkit on the co-benefits of climate action to help local authorities build the business case for climate action, including 31 top actions for councils.
  • Grantham Institute at Imperial College - briefing paper on co-benefits of climate action.
  • Regen - report on local leadership to transform our energy system aims to inspire and inform the local government to play a leadership role in decarbonising energy.
  • EnergyRev - report including the added value of investing in local energy and how local government can be a catalyst for net zero carbon localities (download below).
  • Regen - a case study on Bristol Energy Smart System Transformation.
  • CLES - video explaining how to make a local economy work for the area in an equitable way (watch below).
  • The Council of Worthing & Adur - progressive plan with 2030 as the target date for net zero, which may be a useful template.

Video Resources

Documents & Downloads