Strategies in Action
How many times have you heard people say a local council Climate Emergency Declaration (CED) is ‘just words’ or ‘just virtue-signalling’? Have they really contacted the 2,000+ places that have passed a CED motion to find out what they have done since?
We have added links to local Climate Emergency Action Plans to the global datasheet of CED jurisdictions, in cases where we know of such plans, but please email us and let us know of plans we have missed.
“We’ve got to get people to imagine that it is within our grasp to turn this thing around”– Kumi Naidoo
…so we want to ‘show off’ some of the good things that are happening in order to help good actions going viral.
Global examples of councils going beyond ‘business as usual’
This is NOT an exhaustive list! Chances are there are many examples of inspiring post-CED council action that we’ve simply not heard about. This section is a work in progress. We will add more as time permits, but please let us know if your local council is implementing innovative solutions we should add to this list.
We’ve not included the obvious and typical measures that many councils take to reduce the emissions from council’s own operations, things like solar PV and energy efficiency improvements for council buildings and replacing street lights with LED alternatives. Instead this list focuses on actions intended to engage the entire community and tackle community-wide emissions, partly because that has less obvious solutions, but mainly because the emissions from council’s own operations are typically only a tiny percent of community-wide emissions.
Preston City Council, UK: Climate Emergency Centre
A new Climate Emergency Centre in Preston is supported by Preston City Council and South Ribble Borough Council in conjunction with local climate groups. It is run by volunteers as a drop-in space and a venue for information sharing, workshops, and climate events. There are now 19 similar Climate Emergency Centres in various parts of the UK.
Victoria City Council, Canada: Banning use of fossil fuels in new buildings
The Victoria Council ban will apply from 2025, but some other cities are moving faster on this. Across the entirety of Quebec, oil-powered heating has been banned in new projects since December 2021, and beginning in December 2023, existing furnaces cannot be replaced with a fossil-fuel-powered system. A New York City ban on fossil fuels will apply in smaller new buildings by 2023 and in taller builds by 2027.
San Diego City Council, USA: An updated 2022 Climate Action Plan
The updated 2022 Climate Action Plan sets a community-wide net zero emissions target date of 2035. As part of that they are instituting a ban on fossil gas use in new buildings (as are a number of other CED cities in California) and embarking on a 12-year plan to electrify almost all already-built buildings as well.
Yarra City Council, Australia: Extraordinary Times Require Extraordinary Art
Yarra City Council is hosting a program over three weeks, Extraordinary Times Require Extraordinary Art, to support artists and arts organisations to create and present artworks in response to the climate emergency. Art that strengthens and mobilises the public response to the climate emergency. Art that engages, informs and inspires climate action. Art that makes the big idea of climate action personal and immediate. Art that makes people feel like change makers.
Bath and North East Somerset Council, UK: Climate and Biodiversity Festival
Council is inviting local groups to hold events as part of a week-long festival program focused on raising the profile of local groups and encouraging Climate Emergency action across all parts of the community.
Frankston City Council, Australia: Climate emergency community ideas board
Frankston has set up a dedicated ‘Share your ideas‘ website page for residents to suggest what Council could do to help the community tackle the Climate Emergency.
24 councils in Victoria, Australia: Seeking amendments to state planning rules
A coalition of 24 councils, mostly ones that have declared a Climate Emergency, is urging the state government to give councils the power to set much more stringent planning development rules for new buildings. Under the proposed changes, new developments would:
- Produce net zero carbon emissions
- Make buildings more energy efficient
- Better manage water quality, use and collection
- Protect and enhance greening and biodiversity
- Be more resilient to changing climate impacts
Vale of Whitehorse District Council, UK: grants for community climate projects
Council has budgeted £50,000 per year for 4 years to give grants to climate projects instigated by the local community. One winner from the 2021-22 grant round, Sustainable Wantage, received £4,952 for Wantage Draught Busters, a project to make simple adaptations or repairs to people’s homes to reduce heat loss. Another, Sustainable Botley, received £4,900 to train local people to offer home energy advice and to carry out “DIY” measures such as loft insulation.
Ottowa City Council, Canada: Fossil Fuel Non-proliferation Treaty
On 6 July 2022, Ottowa became the 12th municipality in Canada to endorse the Fossil Fuel Non-proliferation Treaty and will be urging the Ontario government to do the same.
East Hampton Town Council, USA: All-electric building code
East Hampton is revising its building code for new residential and commercial construction to enforce electrification of all energy use through the installation of energy-efficient electric appliances, such as cold climate heat pumps for heating and cooling and hot water production, as well as induction stoves for cooking. Similar legislation, the All-Electric Building Act, is currently before the New York state legislature.
Edmonton City Council, Canada: Dedicated Climate Emergency website
Edmonton has set up a dedicated website for engaging the entire community in climate emergency action. They post news of council initiatives and have an engagement tool for residents to learn about and report actions.
Bayside City Council, Australia: New ESD local policy
Bayside is proposing to introduce a new Environmentally Sustainable Development (ESD) Local Policy into the Bayside Planning Scheme to ensure that new development in Bayside achieves best practice in environmental sustainability from the design stage through to construction and operation. The policy would apply to new developments of a certain size needing a planning permit, such as:
- Residential development of two or more houses on one lot.
- Commercial and industrial developments with a floor area of 100 square metres or more.
Toronto City Council, Canada: Home Energy Loan Program
Toronto has been offering low-interest loans for home improvements for some time, but under a Climate Emergency measure adopted in July 2022 they now offer zero-interest longterm loans and incentives for retrofits that reduce carbon emissions. Eligible measures include heat pumps for heating and cooling, insulation, solar, air sealing, and more.
Brent Council, UK: Community decides how to spend £500,000 Carbon Offset Fund
The event, which was open to any Brent resident, saw local people vote on the green projects that they felt would make a difference in their communities.
The total fund of £500,000 was split into two pots: £400k was awarded to homes that will install energy efficiency measures to reduce their carbon emissions, and £100k was awarded to community groups who will run educational projects to help residents reduce carbon emissions, save money, and make positive and healthier lifestyle changes.
Bedford Borough Council, UK: Mayor’s Climate Change Fund
From 2020-2024, local community groups, social enterprises, and public sector schools and similar can apply for matched funding of 50% of the cost of building improvements that reduce carbon emissions. These might include; solar panels, low energy lighting, upgrades to windows and doors, loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, natural daylight systems, rainwater harvesting systems, external and internal wall insulation, heating systems upgrade, boiler replacement, secondary glazing, solar thermal systems, wind and hydro turbines, and ground or air source heat pumps.
Yarra City Council, Australia: Ban on fossil fuel advertising
In 2022, Yarra City Council became the first local government in Australia to ban fossil fuel advertising on council-run property by companies involved in the production or supply of fossil fuels. Similar bans have been imposed in Amsterdam and, in the UK, by North Somerset Council, Norwich Council, and Liverpool City Council. In 2021 France passed a Climate and Resilience Bill which includes a ban on advertising for all fossil fuel energies from the second half of 2022.
Petaluma Council, California, USA: Ban on new gasoline stations
Petaluma Council was the first jurisdiction in the world to ban new gasoline stations and Los Angeles is planning to follow suit. In September 2022, Windsor Town Council also followed suit, making them the sixth council in Sonoma County to do so.
Cheltenham Borough Council, UK: Sustainable design and construction planning document
On 20 June 2022, Council unanimously passed detailed planning guidelines for new builds and retrofits to help meet their Climate Emergency target of carbon neutrality for the entire borough by 2030. The planning document is at https://democracy.cheltenham.gov.uk/documents/s40674/2022_06_20_COU_Climate_Change_SPD_Appendix%202.pdf.
Moonee Valley City Council, Australia: Climate stories competition
In 2021, Council conducted a climate story writing competition in 3 age groups, with prizes for the winners in each age group.
Cornwall Council, UK: Climate Emergency newsletter
Council publishes a regular newsletter about local initiatives towards achieving their 2030 carbon neutral target, for example this June 2022 e-news.
Moreland City Council, Australia: Zero Carbon Moreland website
The council’s own operations have been carbon neutral for 10 years already. They publish regular e-news about local climate achievements, and have a dedicated website to support their zero carbon community aspirations. Part of that is a Local Legends section for inspiring the community to act.
Warwickshire County Council, UK: dedicated Climate Emergency website
Council has set up a dedicated website for news about local climate emergency initiatives and things residents can do. The latest news is a ‘clean air’ competition for local schools.
Leicester Council, UK: £8m home insulation scheme
Council is retrofitting hundreds of older social housing and other affordable homes with wall insulation, enabled by a successful bid to receive funding help from the UK Government’s Green Homes Grant Scheme.
Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, Australia: Climate Emergency News
Council website has a Climate Emergency News page with links to quarterly updates. Residents can sign up to receive the updates via a mailing list and can submit articles to appear in the e-news.
Cheshire West and Chester Council, UK: Climate Emergency Inspiration
In October 2021, Council set up an interactive Be inspired to tackle the Climate Emergency page on their website. It has a Your stories section for local residents and groups to post about actions they are taking, and an Our stories section where Council posts news about their own climate-focused actions.
Camden Council, UK: Climate investment fund
Camden set up a community climate investment fund enabling local residents to invest even just small amounts in a fund that will pay for carbon reductions measures and return interest and, after 5 years, return the capital to the investor.
Nottingham City Council, UK: Over 50% reduction in per capita carbon emissions since 2005
Achieved mainly via electrification of transport, rooftop solar, and home insulation schemes. Their carbon neutral target is 2028 for the entire community.
Wales, UK: Banning use of fossil fuels for heating in new social housing
Not a council, but Wales as a country is setting a great example by banning use of fossil fuels for heating in new social housing as of October 2021. How about a ban on reticulation of fossil gas to ALL new buildings? Some California councils are planning to implement that.
Warrington Council, UK: Engaging the entire community
Warrington Council wants to find 2030 residents, businesses, groups and organisations to commit to doing what they can to combat the climate emergency to help Warrington to be carbon neutral by 2030. They also encourage making the commitments public to inspire others to join in. Details at https://www.warrington.gov.uk/your-commitment-act.
Rennes Council, France: Ban on outdoor public space heating
A ban on outdoor heating of bar and restaurant spaces took effect on 1 January 2020. According to this article, Rennes is the first council in France to do so, and this new regulation was prompted specifically as a follow-on action to their Climate Emergency Declaration on 24 June 2019.
We think this is a very significant post-CED action, not just because banning outdoor heating will avoid unnecessary carbon emissions but, perhaps even more importantly, this is one of the few very publicly visible actions a council can take to make sure the entire community knows they are serious about us being in a climate emergency. It will probably be controversial, so even those members of the public who were unaware of council’s CED will become aware of it, and the controversy will give council the perfect opportunity to encourage the entire community to ‘do their bit’ in reducing community-wide carbon emissions.
Cornwall Council, UK: No gas in new homes
Following on from their CED on 22 January 2019, from October 2019 new council housing will have no gas connection and will instead use either air source heat pumps or ground source heat pumps for heating.
This is becoming increasingly common in the UK and also in some cities in the US. We’ve seen a number of reports of council schemes to help residents switch to heat pumps to avoid continuing to use gas or oil for heating.
West Berkshire (and 4 other UK councils): community bonds to raise funds for climate emergency action
Following on from its 2 July 2019 CED, people in West Berkshire will soon be able to invest in a ‘community bond’ for as little as £5, which will go towards plans to install solar panels and plant trees across the district and hopefully raise £1 million. The interest rate would be a bit lower than other options for borrowing, so it would save council (and ratepayers) money, but it could also be a very effective means of empowering local residents who want to ‘do more’.
Kirklees Council, UK: Free parking for electric and hybrid vehicles
Just one of the measures in the Kirklees 12 November action plan (CED 16 January 2019) is provision of free parking for EVs and hybrids to encourage their adoption.
Sheringham Town Council, UK: planting community fruit orchard
February 2020: Council are asking volunteers to come along and help plant 30 heritage fruit trees to establish a community orchard as part of their Climate Emergency action.
Oxford City and Sheffield City Councils, UK: Green taxis
Having passed a CED motion on 28 January 2019 and subsequently held a Citizens’ Assembly, Oxford City Council announced various measures including ‘supporting and incentivising’ private taxi firms to go green.
We don’t know the details of how this scheme works, but given that EVs are still quite expensive, it certainly makes sense to prioritise electrification of vehicles that get used almost constantly rather than council or resident vehicles that are used less frequently.
On 17 December 2019 Sheffield City Council, which passed a CED motion on 6 February 2019, reported City Taxis’ £50m plan to convert to an all electric, 1,500-car fleet. According to the City Taxi About page, they have some sort of partnership with Sheffield City Council but we don’t have details of council’s involvement in this plan to switch to electric taxis…but however they did that, it is a great outcome!
Brighton and Hove Council, UK: Reallocation of budget
£500,000 which was earmarked for the redevelopment of Brighton Town Hall will now be used for investment in “sustainability and carbon reduction”.
Labour leader Daniel Yates said: “We need to deal with the climate emergency facing the city and create a fund for those who wish to fight climate change.”
Wokingham Borough Council, UK: Green Bank loans for residents and a tree for each house
After a successful CED motion on 18 July 2019, on 3 January 2020 council reported they had set aside £24 million in budget for climate actions, including:
– Solar farm sites to be built in borough
– Council hopes to launch its own energy company
– Green Bank will lend residents cash to fund greener homes
– 250,000 trees to be planted across borough
– Push for environmentally friendly transport networks
– Bid to include school pupils in carbon neutral plans
– Plan to boost recycling so crisp packets can become benches
– Education programme to raise awareness of schemes
York City Council, UK: introducing bans on cars in city centre
Council (CED 21 March 2019) will introduce a ban on non-essential private car use in the city centre from 2023, with exemptions for people with disabilities, in conjunction with improvements to public transport. Other cities too are introducing similar bans.
Edinburgh Council, UK: action plan for entire city to be carbon neutral by 2030
The Edinburgh (CED 7 February 2019) carbon neutral city by 2030 plan is estimated to cost £8 billion over 11 years and pay for itself in 16 years. It includes a “short window improvement plan” outlining 37 immediate and short-term actions across all areas of the authority’s business, but the public sector only accounts for around 12 per cent of Edinburgh’s carbon emissions – meaning the private sector in the city will have a big role to play.
North Somerset District Council, UK: rewilding program
Numerous UK councils are implementing rewilding programs of various types and scales, including this one announced on 29 October 2019 by North Somerset Council (CED 19 February 2019).
Brimbank City Council, Australia: solar car park
7 January 2020, Brimbank Council announced its installation of 82kW of solar PV on the roof of its multi-tier car park to generate power for the facility with the added benefit of providing shade for cars on its top level. Brimbank declared a Climate Emergency on 25 June 2019 and has set a target of 100% renewable electricity for council buildings by 2021.
Somerset County Council, UK: community survey re actions to be prioritised
9 January 2020, (CED 20 February 2019) encouraged all residents to respond to a simple SurveyMonkey survey asking for their views on which potential actions should be prioritised, taking into account time and cost cnstraints and the relative effectiveness of each. You can see the survey here. This simple low-cost initiative could be quite effective at informing and engaging the local community, particularly if high numbers are aware of the survey and choose to participate.
Stratford District Council, UK: Close the Door campaign
Pretty obvious really! On 10 January 2020 Stratford Councillors proposed a local Close the Door campaign as one of a suite of follow-up actions to their CED on 15 July 2019. They cited research stating that keeping business doors closed did not reduce patronage.
Frome Town Council, UK: free workshop on how to talk about the Climate Emergency
On 6 February 2020 Frome council (CED 5 December 2018) is holding a free workshop. What do you say to colleagues and friends who continue to fly long-distance? How do you deal with close family who ‘just don’t get’ the climate emergency? How should we speak to children on the subject to ensure they don’t suffer from climate angst and feel empowered to take action?’
Hammersmith and Fulham Council, UK: introduced fines for idling motorists
10 January council announced new actions, including fining idling motorists, for example at school pickup zones (CED 17 July 2019).
Leeds City Council, UK: proposal to re-open disused rail infrastructure
11 January 2020: Councillors are proposing to encourage public transport use by re-opening disused rail infrastructure and closed train stations and by taking local bus services into public ownership. (CED: 27 March 2019)
Barcelona City Council, Spain: staff to choose trains rather than planes for short trips
14 January 2020: Barcelona City Council commits government and city officials to reject flights less than 1,000 kilometers when they have rail alternatives of less than seven hours. (CED 1 January 2020)
York City Council, UK: banning cars in city centre
14 January 2020: York (CED: 21 March2019) has plans to ban all non-essential vehicles from the city centre and to provide a free shuttle service. Some vehicles, such as buses, delivery vehicles, and drivers with a disability will still be able to drive in the city centre.
Peterborough City Council, Canada: 0.25% tax increase to create climate fund
15 January 2020: City council (CED: 23 September 2019) is planning to start a new fund of $426,400 — which would be added to annually — to cover projects that help curb climate change. To do that, council plans to add 0.25 per cent to the all-inclusive tax increase.
South Hams District Council, UK: blocked a new gas power plant
15 January 2020: South Hams Council (CED: 25 July 2019) threw out plans for a new gas power plant on the basis that it contradicted their policy of declaring a ‘climate emergency’.
Kalamazoo County Council, USA: regional collaboration and idea-sharing between councils
17 January 2020: County Council (CED: 3 December 2019) organised a meeting of officials from local governments – cities, townships within the county and the county officials – to share plans and collaborate on tackling the climate emergency
Bath and North East Somerset Council, UK: produced toolkit to assist CED parish councils
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, UK: training sessions for staff
17 January 2020: Council (CED; 10 July 2019) has teamed up with Keele University to deliver training sessions for District, Town and Parish Councillors as part of a long-tem partnership with Keele University who are working closely with Council on the climate change action plan.
Shrewsbury Town Council, UK: small rate rise to fund climate emergency action
18 January 2020: set a small rise in rates to create ‘a designated fund of £250,000 specifically for measures to play our part in responding to the climate emergency’ (CED: 25 March 2019)
Eastleigh Borough Council, UK: asking residents to pledge lifestyle changes
11 February 2020: Council is asking everyone in the community to pledge to make simple changes, like minimising car use, turning down heaters 1 degree, and avoiding food waste, to help reach the 2030 community-wide carbon neutral target. (CED: 18 July 2019)
Hackney Borough Council, UK: free insulation for residents
13 February 2020: Council’s publicly-owned energy company is providing free insulation for local homes on a first come first serve basis with no means testing (CED: 26 June 2019)
Wokingham Borough Council, UK: 10% of budget allocated to climate emergency action
20 February 2020: Announced they have allocated 10% of council budget to tackling the climate emergency. (CED: 18 July 2019)
Warwick District Council: referendum re rates rise to fund climate actions
28 February: Council is holding a referendum on a rates rise to ask local citizens for approval for a rates rise to help fund local strategies to address the climate emergency (CED: 26 June 2019)