Climate action: place-based leadership and communication

How can we champion climate change work from the top and direct action? How can we adopt a clear and detailed strategic plan?

Climate change hub

Climate change action plans 

We are collecting council climate change action plans for councils to compare with one another. Please do send across your own to and we shall upload them here.

LGA resources

Ten questions to scrutinise climate action

In collaboration with the Centre for Public Scrutiny, the LGA has launched this publication which covers ten questions, and several supplementary follow ups, to ask if you are scrutinising climate action in your council. It lays out key issues on which local scrutineers (councillors sitting on scrutiny committees and the officers who support them) can pose to those with decision-making responsibility.

Councillor workbook: acting on climate change

This workbook is a learning aid for councillors on the roles, opportunities and drivers for council-led action on the changing climate, both to reduce local carbon emissions and to build resilience to extreme weather. 

A councillor’s workbook on the local pathway to net zero

Local authorities have a crucial role to play in achieving the UK’s 2050 Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions target, this workbook can help councillors achieve this.

New Conversations 2.0 - LGA guide to engagement

The resources in this report support the basic, statutory aspects of engagement, with a particular focus on pure consultation. It explores best practice, legal requirements, and the pre-emptive steps you can take to get engagement around decision-making right. This includes assets to help you choose your channels and messengers, and decide whether you need to formally consult. There are also resources supporting the evaluation of consultation, and the use of insight.

New Citizenship Project (NCP) and Kirklees Council: Blog

New Citizenship Project (NCP) has been working with Kirklees Council for around 18 months now, to radically redefine the relationship between council and citizen: from service provider, to enabler. Throughout this project, there has been great opportunity to learn and reflect. Now we’d like to share those reflections, to see what other local authorities might learn and take away from the experience.

What was the starting point?

NCP: We’re a strategy and innovation company on a mission to support a shift in the dominant story of the individual in society from consumer to citizen. We help organisations do things better (and do better things) because we think of people differently. If you think of people as consumers, all you can do is sell to them - whether that’s predefined actions to take or products to buy. If you think of people as citizens, you have to start by asking what your organisation exists to achieve in the first place, and then how people can join in and help you do it: a far more generative and creative place to be.

We start with the belief that people do have a desire to play an active role in making their places better, but that the narratives and structures that are put in place can either help or hinder our agency to get involved. This is all about stepping away from what we call the ‘Subject’ and ‘Consumer’ narratives that have permeated through our society over the last decade or so, and stepping into a ‘Citizen’ future. For a council, this means not doing things ‘to’ or ‘for’ people, but ‘with’ and ‘through’ people.

Table with subject, consumer and citizen information

Kirklees Council: For us, this work was very much inspired by our citizens, who are already doing amazing things in our local places. We know from the work of the Kirklees Democracy Commission that people do want to get involved - our first principle is that everything starts with the citizen.

Since the Commission’s landmark Growing a stronger local democracy report in 2017, we’ve been working to change the relationship between our citizens and our council. We know that there is so much more we can do by working alongside people in our local places. Kirklees Council’s strategic focus on people, place and partners is opening up the space for more participation. We’ve established a powerful public agenda for the community.

But although we’re making great progress with place-based and more participatory ways of working, this has in the past been limited to certain teams within the council. Overall, we need to have a mindset of working with and alongside people, and not just providing services for people (where the best case scenario is that we aren’t blamed for things going wrong).

The New Citizenship Project are helping us to be clear about what we do want to be, rather than what we don’t want to be. Together we’re working with citizens to understand how we can create the conditions that will enable local people and places to thrive.

How did you set about doing it?

NCP: Through our work across a range of sectors, we’ve developed three principles that many organisations have found helpful when trying to become more participatory and citizen-led. We call these “Purpose, Platform and Prototype”.

Purpose is all about understanding what your organisation is really trying to do in the world, and articulating that in a way that brings people along with you. For a local authority, this might be understanding the unique role the council can play in a community, based on a belief in local people, above merely providing services.

The next step is to become a platform that enables people to participate in achieving that purpose with you. For a local authority, this could be about reframing the council from ‘service provider’ to ‘enabler’, but crucially, this needs to happen at all levels of the organisation, and cannot just be the role of certain teams.

Finally, there is no utopian switch we can flip to make these changes across an organisation overnight, so the way to get there is to prototype. For a local authority, this might be about identifying specific projects that would benefit from deeper citizen involvement and building those up in small steps. You might also begin identifying internal ways of working that might be perpetuating the Subject or consumer to then start testing new ‘habits’ that signal the story of the citizen.

Two pictures side by side of groups of people sitting at a table


Kirklees Council: Using those three principles as a framework, we began working with citizens in two quite different local places in Kirklees - Ashbrow and Fieldhead - in June 2019. We discovered how we can grow more participatory relationships with citizens in local places across Kirklees by exploring a question together:

How can we best work together to make the places where we live better?

Starting with local strengths, we shared stories of what makes us feel proud to be part of where we live. We then explored the common themes in those stories, as well as what was different. By discussing those themes, we established ‘building blocks’ that would help us work together and enable more people to get involved, making those stories a reality for more people.

From those common ‘building blocks’ we produced questions, which gave Kirklees Council a role to play (as a platform) in bringing those shared themes to life in local places across the borough:

  • I Care, We Care - How can we put more trust in the people of Kirklees?
  • Human connection - How can we promote and enable personal connections?
  • Everyone can contribute - How can we recognise and encourage every person’s ability to contribute?
  • The spaces to flourish - How can we provide buildings and greenspace where people can be together?
  • Celebrate the journey - How can we celebrate people’s everyday efforts?

We then discussed what people would need to think, know, feel and do, in a future where we truly live by these principles. This produced some fantastic insights - a few of which are:

In a future where everyone in Kirklees is enabled to make the places where they live better, we will...


Everyone is equal

Our place is worth the effort

It’s important to look out for each other


How my neighbours drink their tea

How to get involved

Where to get help


Inspired to join in

Reward of helping someone

Pride in our homes, gardens & streets


Take part in local groups

Share skills and knowledge

Simple acts of kindness


These workshops were just the beginning, but they gave us a crucial starting point to work from. We’ve since worked to embed these principles across our work with citizens, in a new approach we call ‘The Kirklees Way’ - creating and sustaining the conditions to enable everyone in Kirklees to be an active citizen.

How will you make it stick?

Kirklees Council: Using the insights from the workshops, and further work in partnership with the citizens of Kirklees, we’re now starting the next phase of our work with New Citizenship Project, working alongside citizens to make the places where we live, work and play better.

We are now faced with an important question: How can we measure active citizenship in local places across Kirklees, and do it a citizen-led way?

To answer this question, we’ll be working in partnership with people from across civil society to develop a measure of Citizen Confidence that evaluates our success in, and holds us accountable to, working in the Kirklees Way.

We’re already supporting citizen-led organisations, councillors and colleagues to use the Place Standard tool, which is a way of having meaningful conversations about local places - this could be your street, neighbourhood or town - through some simple questions. This is helping us to learn how people feel about the places where they live, work and play and to act on those insights.

Over the coming months, we’ll be doing further co-creation workshops, open collective storytelling and experimenting to develop this new measure, as well as creating toolkits to support its use. We don’t know exactly what this will look like, but we’re really excited to continue developing it by working alongside our communities.

NCP: Subject, consumer and citizen are three narratives we’ve been working with for a while now. But whilst previously we’ve seen them as a natural trajectory that will see our society arrive at the citizen - where our role is to speed up the shift - recent events have suggested that these three stories are in-fact competing and at some point, one will emerge as dominant.

In the subject future, local governments step into the role of ‘Local Protector’ - becoming administrative outposts of a controlling and expanding state. Whilst the additional funding and power this future would bring might sound appealing, it would reduce the role of the individual to nothing more than a receiver.

The consumer story is the one that was dominant in wider society before COVID-19, and suggests that the only agency we have as individuals is through our wallets, and that we are here to be served. This is what ‘back to normal’ would look like - where the government's role at all levels is to provide efficient and effective services - and it is a story in which neither local authorities nor citizens will ever be able to fulfil our potential.

The citizen is the story that opens up a really exciting future. We’ve seen this story emerge in powerful and exciting ways, such as in the surge of civic energy expressing itself through Mutual Aid groups. In many cases, local authorities (such as Kirklees) have stepped alongside citizens in this immediate space - not attempting to supersede or dominate, but providing the infrastructure, resources and expertise that enable these emergent citizen-led solutions to fulfil their potential. We’d don’t know exactly what the citizen story looks like, but it is the one we can and need to build.

To help with this, we’re looking to convene six local authorities — representing a range of scales, remits and regions - to work with, build on and challenge these ideas more systematically over the next year, with the ambition of creating an output together that could then be used by other local authorities. The template for this is a process we call Collaborative Innovation, one we’ve already run in several other sectors.

If you’d be interested to know more about either of these opportunities, please get in touch via, or find @NewCitProj on Twitter. We look forward to hearing from you!

Follow our work in Kirklees at Democracy in Kirklees or via @kirkdemocracy on Twitter.

Webinar: Scrutinising climate action

Climate change is a critical global problem that will impact environments everywhere and individuals across all levels of society. The challenge has been thrown into sharper focus by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating the need for places and communities to become more resilient. Within the local government sector, councils have been leading the response to climate change, but with many having declared a ‘climate emergency’ there is a need to show how they will prioritise and embed climate action in all policy areas. Scrutiny has a critical role to play in these cross-cutting issues, testing the assumptions in the development of climate action plans and securing political buy-in for sustained action. Scrutiny can also support the council to engage with partners and channel local views, as well as playing a formal accountability role as councils make public commitments to climate action. 

Drawing on the LGA’s publication ‘10 questions to ask if you are scrutinising climate change’, the event outlined a practical approach for scrutineers to understand and seek oversight on climate action in their localities. It was designed to explore questioning, identify key stakeholders, plan effective scrutiny work and consider the impacts that scrutiny can expect to deliver on this issue.  

You can view the event presentation via the below link:

The role of scrutiny in climate change programmes: scoping and designing effective reviews Scrutinising climate action: who, when and how

We have also produced a blog which provides a summary of the key themes that emerged during the morning and afternoon session on 18 September 2020, as well as some practical advice identified by participants.

Webinar: Locking in positive behaviours and the co-benefits of green recovery

Download presentations from Cllr Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh, Dr Neil Jennings, Jonathan Baker and Dr Sam Hubble.

Read the blog.

LGA and UKSSD - Sustainable development guide for councils

The Local Government Association and the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development launched a guide to help councils engage with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at a time when many are starting to re-think the role of local government in leading places and empowering people. 

The UN’s 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, adopted by all UN member states, are an urgent call for action by all countries to end poverty and other deprivations to improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change.

The joint guide with UKSSD reinforces the need for coherent decision-making between all levels of government at a time of growing consensus regarding the importance of an economically and environmentally sustainable recovery.  

Examples of councils that have been working towards the SDGs include:  

Newcastle City Council made a political commitment to mainstream the SDGs in its policies, activity and programmes in 2019. Working closely with SDG experts at University of Newcastle, it is now embedding the SDGs in the work of the City Futures Board, formed to shape the city’s renewal following the Covid-19 pandemic. Bristol City Council, in partnership with the University of Bristol, launched the UK’s first Voluntary Local Review on the SDGs in 2019 and has embedded the Goals in its One City Plan to work with stakeholders across the city towards a more coherent plan for the future. A follow-up handbook for use by other cities wanting to undertake similar local voluntary reviews has also been produced.

Despite facing enormous pressures and sustained funding cuts, councils have maintained the provision of essential services for their communities and continue to look ahead at how they can work closely with the Government to achieve its targets, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  

As councils across the country continue to lead their communities through the coronavirus pandemic, it is vitally important that they have the resources and support to lead them through the recovery and continue to fight against climate change.

  • Liverpool City Council’s forthcoming City Plan contains a clear commitment to the SDGs from all partner organisations. The council has worked with the 2030hub in Liverpool to inform the selection of aims, priorities and metrics for the City Plan.
Waste Management

Local residents take a keen interest in what happens to their bins. We support high recycling rates for householders and businesses and are working hard to make sure councils are able to reduce landfill and tackle climate change through increasing recycling.

There are approximately 23 million dwellings in England most of which require a weekly or fortnightly refuse and recycling collection. Councils spend £852m per year on waste collection, and given that many contracts were negotiated several years ago and are ready for renewal, even a small efficiency saving of say 5 per cent would equate to a £42.6m reduction in spend in this area.

In 2015 we supported council across England to run projects intended to bring about efficiencies and savings to council's waste and recycling budget. You can find some of the learning beneath:

Webinar: Greener living - what impact has the pandemic had on local climate action? March 16 2021
  • Solace and the LGA partnered to deliver an exploratory webinar which discussed the impact that Covid-19 has had on local climate change reduction action plans.
  • The webinar focused on three themes to assess Covid-19’s impact. The first, “transport and travel”, looked at travel patterns have we seen over the pandemic, and how they differ compared to pre-2020. The second, “valuing local”, examined how a people-centred approach to local economic development can support a green recovery, and the final case study, “valuing green spaces” looked at how residents have valued their local green spaces and biodiversity during lockdowns. Case studies were presented by officers from Lewes District Council, Surrey County Council, and RLB Kingston.
  • The session featured a keynote speech and insights from Farhana Yamin, the leading international environmental lawyer and climate change and development policy expert. She outlined the key factors of successful climate action at both the grassroots community level, and in formal policy spaces.

Solace and LGA Webinar Greener Living - presentation (PDF)

Case studies and notable practice

City of York Council: York’s Clean Air Zone

City of York Council took action to improve air quality across the city through a Clean Air Zone, aiming to significantly reduce emissions from buses and ensure all those operating frequently in the city centre were low emission.

Read the full case study

Cornwall Council: Doughnut economics in council decision making

Cornwall Council have deployed the use of a decision wheel, based on the Doughnut Economics model pioneered by Kate Raworth, so cabinet decisions take full consideration of their environmental, social, economic and cultural impact.

Read the full case study

Vale of White Horse District Council: Maintaining high level recycling during the COVID-19 pandemic

The council used innovative digital education to communicate and engage with residents in lockdown.

Read the full case study

Developing a community forum to help tackle climate change and increase biodiversity

South Hams District and West Devon Borough Councils share their experience of developing a community forum.

Read the full case study

Kendal Town Council: Ensuring a guaranteed commitment

After hosting the first ever citizens’ jury at town council level, Kendal Town Council focused on understanding what residents thought it should do and ensuring commitments from local partners.

Read the full case study

Oxford City Council: Mobilise residents in climate emergency

Oxford City Council unanimously declared a Climate Emergency in January 2019 alongside a motion opposing the now-paused, Oxford to Cambridge Expressway proposals.

Read the full case study

Surrey County Council: Crowdsourcing ideas to get started

Surrey County Council declared a climate emergency in July 2019 and has taken the huge step in publishing a comprehensive strategy.

Read the full case study

Hertfordshire County Council: Sustainable Hertfordshire Strategy and Action Plan

Hertfordshire County Council developed the Sustainable Hertfordshire Strategy and Action Plan, which set out the policies, strategies and implementation plans needed to embed sustainability across all their operations and services.

Read the full case study

Kent County Council: Severe Weather Impacts Monitoring System (SWIMS)

SWIMS is a decision-support and data collection tool for Kent’s public-sector services to record and monitor the impacts from, responses to, and resulting financial cost of severe weather events.

Read the full case study

Kent and Medway: Climate Change Risk and Impact Assessment

In 2019, Kent County Council commissioned JBA Consultants to undertake an assessment of the priority risks and impacts climate change will have on six key sectors in Kent and Medway, resulting in the Climate Change Risk and Impact Assessment.

Read the full case study

Cornwall Council

Aim The council is working with multiple partners to help drive the positive impacts of a green focussed recovery and renewal approach within its communities and the economy.

Actions It has recently launched the Carbon Neutral Cornwall Hive webpage, that promotes best practice sharing between the council and grass roots community groups. It has changed the criteria of its Community Infrastructure Levy to be focussed on climate change, with £500k available for projects and recently launched a Carbon Neutral Cornwall crowdfunding campaign with 3 match funding pots available.

Further Information is available.

Council contact: Mark Holmes

Bedford Borough Council

Region East of England

Target declared climate emergency and became carbon neutral by 2030

Project published a carbon management plan in 2011 and target to reduce carbon emissions by 40%. Pioneered schemes including a heat exchanger system in a local crematorium and an evaporative cooling project in 2012.

Carbon saving reduced carbon emissions by over 50%

Further information is available.

Tower Hamlets Council

Region Greater London

Target declared a climate emergency and target to be net zero emissions by 2025

Project Tower Hamlets council, which has set a target of net zero emissions by 2025, is using its carbon offset payments to fund a schools Energy Retrofit Programme, providing grants to schools to reduce their energy consumption. Schools are expected to save £5,400 on energy bills a year and reduce carbon emissions by an average of 53% a year. The council is also undertaking a phased programme to replace all street lighting with LED lighting, which will save for the council £2.7 million by 2020

Related costs £24,0000 grant programme and schools expected to save £4,700 on energy bills yearly

Carbon saving Reduce carbon emissions by average 53% per annum

Further information is available.

Durham County Council

Region North East

Project Continued support for SME business, through the Business Energy Efficiency Project (BEEP), (£1.7 million EU investment for Durham SME’s) and development of proposals for district heating networks in Durham City.

Launch of a Single Use Plastics Pledge which over 250 individuals and organisations have signed up for.

LED lighting replacements for 17,000 streetlights, Gala Theatre and a number of council owned buildings including schools.

A move to greater numbers of electric vehicles including the council's 26 pool cars. The first two electric vehicles for our service fleet were introduced to operations in January 2020.

A substantial programme of tree planting supported by successful schemes such as the £820 000 Woodland Revival and £1million Urban Tree Challenge Fund, as well as new schemes such as a commitment to plant 10,000 trees in each Area Action Partnership area. In total this would be an estimated 358,000 trees on top of the estimated 953,142 from 2000 to date.

The council (measured in 2018/19) has already reduced its carbon footprint by 47% from 2008/9 levels.

A £3million additional support for new climate change projects (in addition to existing commitments, European funded and invest to save projects).

Our Climate Action Plan is due to go before Cabinet on the 12th of February.

Further information is available.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Region North West

Target Carbon Neutral City Region by 2038

Project Published a strategy in Feb 2019 in partnership with the Tyndall centre for climate change lead organisations on UK climate change. Growth in line with their Local Industrial Strategy.

Related costs 45 MW additional low carbon power. 10.3 TWh of additional low carbon heat.

Further information is available.

Oldham Council

Region North West

Target Declared a climate emergency and make the council carbon neutral by 2025

Project Developing the Oldham Code, requiring better insulation, harvesting rainwater, and high efficiency heating based on a project called Rethinking Electricity Distribution Without Load Following (RED WoLF). This is the design of an all-electric heating system, combining solar cell renewable energy generation with battery storage and modern storage heaters.

Further information is available.

Warrington Borough Council

Region North West

Target Declared a climate emergency and be carbon neutral by 2030

Project Warrington borough council is building a major solar power project across two sites at York and Hull to produce green electricity to power the equivalent of 18,000 homes. The York site will consist of a 34.7MWp hybrid solar farm plus a 27MW battery storage system. The whole site will have a 25.7MWp solar farm, will provide all the council’s electricity needs and will cut energy bills by £2 million a year. Both projects will cost a total of £62 million, generate £150 million over 30 years and save 31,000 tonnes of carbon emissions (based on replacing a combined cycle gas turbine power station)

Related costs £62.34 million cost and will generate a surplus of £150 million over 30 years

Carbon saving 31, 000 (based on replacing a CCGT power station)

Further information is available.

Kent County Council

Region South East

Target declared a climate change emergency and countywide target of net zero emissions by 2050. Zero waste to landfill by 2020.

Project Worked with Salix Finance who provided an interest-free loan to upgrade 120,000 streetlights to LED lighting. The loan is usually repaid from energy savings within a five year period (projects exceeding this will repay more per annum than the energy savings or can be part funded).

Related costs The cost of CO2 must be less than £191 per tonne over the lifetime of the project.

Further information is available.

Runnymede Borough Council

Region South East

Project Reduce demand for energy and lower carbon dioxide emissions

Further information is available.

West Sussex County Council

Region South East

Target In 2011, West Sussex County Council committed to reducing its carbon footprint by 50% by 2022. By 2018/19 it had achieved a 46% reduction in its carbon emissions from its original baseline. its annual sustainability report shows how they achieved this. In April 2019, WSCC's Full Council passed a motion pledging to try to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Project West Sussex County Council has installed solar panels on 80 schools to generate zero-carbon electricity and help them reduce their energy bills and impact on the environment. The schools simply purchase the green electricity from the council at a reduced rate compared to the electricity they would usually buy from the National Grid. This will lower school energy bills by £2,000 per year on average and save the County Council’s overall school energy budget £158,000 in the first year. These savings will increase over time as the cost of grid electricity rises.  This complements a Salix-funded programme of energy efficiency projects in West Sussex schools, including low-energy lighting upgrades.

Related costs Installation at no cost to the schools and council meet operation and maintenance costs.

Further information is available.

South Somerset District Council

Region South West

Target declared a climate emergency

Project Council has partnered with Opium Power Limited to create a new 25MW battery storage facility to provide power assistance to the national grid. This went live in March 2019

Related costs Invested £9.8 million

Further information is available.

Telford and Wrekin Council

Region West Midlands

Target declared a climate emergency and target to be carbon neutral by 2030 and free of single use plastic by 2023

Project Built a 4MW solar farm that powers 800 homes per annum and is expected to create a profit of £5 million over 25 years

Further information is available.

London Borough of Hounslow

Region Greater London

Target declared a climate emergency

Project Commitment to reviewing the existing arrangements in place to reduce the council's carbon footprint and will identify measures towards a goal of making the councils activities carbon neutral and ultimately zero carbon within the shortest achievable time frame

Carbon saving net zero from council estates by 2030 and influence emissions reduction borough wide

Further information is available.

Cheshire West and Chester

Region North West

Project Established party Climate Emergency Taskforce to own this issue long term. Established Climate Advisory Panel with representatives from industry/ag/housing/transport etc to inform policy commission, chaired by Chief Executive. Developing action plan for council to be carbon neutral in its own ops by 2030 and Climate Emergency Response plan for borough to be carbon neutral by 2045. Plan to be published December 2020. Council wide actions underway to reduce emissions in own ops.

Related costs £300k per annum ongoing revenue, £7.5 million capital over four years, to support carbon neutral Council ambitions

Further information is available.

Resources from elsewhere

The Carbon Literacy Project

The Carbon Literacy Project offers everyone a day of Carbon Literacy learning and action planning: climate change, carbon footprints, how you can do your bit, and why it is relevant to you and your audience.

The Carbon Literacy Project have developed two new toolkits which are now available. One for elected members and the other for council leaders and managers.

Funded by the UK Government Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the free toolkits* will enable anyone with training experience and knowledge of climate change to train elected members, council leaders and managers.

A panel of local authorities have co-created, reviewed and piloted the toolkit materials, ensuring the latest and best sectoral materials are used. The new Elected Members Toolkit empowers councillors to talk to their constituents about climate change and mobilise change within their sphere of influence. The Leadership and Management Toolkit enables all local authority leaders and managers to explore how they can provide leadership in the climate emergency and incorporate climate change into their decision-making.

If you are looking for an introduction to Carbon Literacy, we would recommend watching the Generic Staff Toolkit launch webinar and/or visiting the Carbon Literacy website.

* Learner certification fees, generally @ £10 per learner still apply. The training materials are free to use by local authorities and their approved training providers for the purposes of certified Carbon Literacy training.

The Carbon Literacy Project is not for profit, owned by The Carbon Literacy Trust and delivered by Cooler Projects CIC.



The COVID-19 pandemic's lessons for local climate leadership

A report from Boston University, writes about the opportunities and challenges presented for climate change, following the COVID-19 peak.  

Four lessons shine through:  

1. Focus beyond the COVID-19 crisis and maintain and boost climate-action momentum because the risks and costs will only grow if action is delayed.  

2. Act to prepare your communities for climate change and GHG reduction; walking away from or delaying crucial climate actions risks disastrous and inequitable local consequences.  

3. Enhance local climate action by building on your residents’ and businesses’ behaviour changes during the pandemic response that reduce emissions and enhance resiliency.  

4. Maximize the local economic and community benefits of an economic recovery that simultaneously drives business and job expansion, improves personal and public health, reduces GHG emissions, strengthens climate resilience, and improves social equity. 

C40 Knowledge: Inclusive community engagement playbook

Community engagement is the process of involving the people that live and interact with your city in its development, including anyone with an interest or influence in, or who is impacted by, a local plan, policy or action. Engagement strategies help cities to develop a better working relationship with the community to ensure that the needs and issues of all parties are understood, and can be addressed to achieve positive change.

This playbook is a detailed practitioners’ guide on everything cities need to know about how to deliver inclusive community engagement. It includes an innovative and diverse selection of tools of varying complexity to cater to cities with different needs and capacity, and case studies from cities around the world.

Citizen and community engagement (Ashden)

This toolkit offers important insight into the co-benefits of climate action, which are often ignored in public messaging. But it is precisely through focusing on these co-benefits that we will encourage a wider cross-section of the population to engage with, participate in, and indeed lead the ever-growing range of opportunities to take climate action at a local level. This chapter explores different options for how councils can:

  • Use deliberative processes to give them a mandate for climate action.
  • Work with their communities to deliver co-benefits through climate action.
  • Overcome concerns or objections to particular changes, using a co-benefits approach.

Climate Action Co-Benefits Toolkit – Chapter 6 (PDF)

Searchable database of council climate action plans

Climate Emergency UK and mySociety have created an open, searchable database of council climate action plans which supports browsing and comparison of different councils’ plans, and search over the text of all the plans in one place.

Access the database here.

ADEPT, Defra and LAAP Good Practice Guidance for Local Government (2019) 

The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT), Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Local Adaptation Advisory Panel (LAAP) have developed a guide focusing on climate change adaption. This guide demonstrates the role local government plays in preparing for impacts of climate change and the reasons for adapting to it. They provide a guide to adaptation activity for various areas, including infrastructure, business, public health and corporate plans, policies and performance. 

LSE - Transition Pathway Initiative Tool (2017)

The London School of Economics’ (LSE) Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment have created a tool, which enables the assessment of how companies are managing climate change and the risk it poses to their business. 

Leeds University - A Civic Plan for a Climate Emergency (2019)

Paul Chatterton from Leeds University has produced a discussion document suggesting ways to meet the 1.5°C Paris Agreement target. Paul discusses the issues around climate emergency and four main action areas: creating a zero-emission civic energy for cities by shifting city energy onto a green energy supply; creating a socially just mobility plan, where half of all journeys will need to be taken via bus or active travel by 2030 and all other vehicles will be electric; ensuring nature is considered and factored in as the core of future city developments; and significant changes to the role of city economies to ensure that it supports the community more. 

LCCP - Basic Aadaption Resources (2020)

The London Climate Change Partnership (LCCP) have released a webpage highlighting basic adaptation resources available for climate change. With particular focus on their “quick actions” section, the webpage suggests simple measures organisations could consider for their adaptation plans. To name a few, it includes signing up to the environmental agency’s flood warning service, mapping longer term decisions and investments and appointing a leader with responsibility for adaptation. 

Imperial College London - Co-benefits of Climate Change Mitigation in the UK (2019)

Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute have released a briefing on the co-benefits of climate change mitigation, where other sectors such as public health and the economy benefit from the positive effects of climate change mitigation. 

Friends of the Earth: '33 Actions Local Authorities can take on Climate Change' (2019)

Friends of the Earth’s report identifies 33 actions that local authorities can take to reduce carbon emissions, under the following groups: transport, buildings, waste, energy, procurement, green spaces and influence.

Ashden and Friends of the Earth - 31 Climate Actions for Councils (2019)

Ashden and Friends of the Earth (FoE) have put together an evidence-based list of the most effective actions councils can take on climate change. They have produced 31 climate actions and have collated it in an excel spreadsheet.

C40 Cities - Climate Action Planning (2019)

C40 Cities explain the reasoning for why climate action planning is important and provide a video, where cities explain the actions they are taking on climate change. This varies from reducing vehicular emissions, improving building energy efficiency to strengthening their ability to dealing with inevitable impacts of climate change. 

C40 Cities - Climate Action Planning Framework (2019)

The Climate Action Planning framework has been developed to support cities develop climate action plans aligned with the objectives of the Paris agreement. The framework was developed by cities participating in C40’s Climate Action Planning pilot programme and covers four key components of climate action planning: emissions neutrality, resilience, inclusivity and governance and collaboration.

C40 Cities - Focused Acceleration - A strategic approach to climate action in cities by 2030

C40 Cities have produced a report, analysing the biggest opportunities for cities to accelerate the reduction of their carbon emissions. It recommends cities focus on twelve opportunities across four action areas: decarbonising the electricity grid, optimising energy efficiency in buildings, enabling next generation mobility and improving waste management. 

C40 Cities - Adapting to Climate Change (2019)

C40 Cities have stated why mitigation and adaptation actions should be prioritised based on impact, benefits and ability to fulfil objectives and developed with the community and partners. There is a video where city practitioners explain why mitigation and adaptation should be combined in action plans.

The Exponential Roadmap

Highlighting the 36 solutions that can scale exponentially to halve Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2030 worldwide. Scaling of solutions comes from sharp policy, from climate leadership by companies and cities and from a finance and technology shift towards green solutions with exponential potential.

UK Fires

Communicating a road map to absolute zero from now until beyond 2050.

Hampshire County Council - Climate Change Behavioural Insights

Hampshire County Council, along with many other local authorities has declared a climate emergency and is working with partners to develop a strategy and action plan to achieve carbon reduction targets. This research was designed to support local authorities to work with their partners to reduce carbon consumption through changed behaviours.

Committee on Climate Change: 2020 Progess Report to Parliament

This is the Committee’s 2020 report to Parliament, assessing progress in reducing UK emissions over the past year. The report includes new advice to the UK Government on securing a green and resilient recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. It recommends that Ministers seize the opportunity to turn the COVID-19 crisis into a defining moment in the fight against climate change. For the first time, the Committee sets out its recommendations government department by government department


Leadership Essentials: Climate Emergency for Elected Members

This programme will help elected Members (who take a lead on the climate emergency) to explore the crucial local leadership role in responding to the climate emergency. Featuring a range of inputs, practical sessions and discussions, the programme will explore themes including community engagement, action planning, current climate change issues and how councils can bring partners together.  

Dates will be posted on this page and through the LGA climate change e bulletin when they are released.


Webinar: Creating meaningful engagement with communities on climate change

Organised by the LGA in partnership with Design Council, the “Creating meaningful engagement with communities on climate change” webinar scaled design approaches across the public sector and stimulated new thinking on collective climate change matters. The various initiatives and approaches presented demonstrated the importance of engaging with residents, communities, organisations and wider stakeholders to build momentum and raise awareness of collective efforts. They also showed the strength of collaboration across partners to achieve a shared mission. Design plays a key role in facilitating these connections, building relationships, and bringing together diverse perspectives around complex challenges. The transferrable nature of design approaches makes them powerful tools that councils can apply to their most diverse challenges. 



Past events

LGA Climate emergency conference 22 January 2020

See all the resources at the climate emergency webpage.