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 1,000+ places that have passed a CED motion to find out what they have done since?
As part of our new ‘not just words’ project we have just begun sending a post-CED action template to local councils and asking their staff to record and send back a list of post-CED climate actions. We hope this will counter the above claims and also serve as a useful way for councils to see what other councils are doing and be inspired by that.
So far we’ve only asked Australian CED councils to fill in the post-CED action template, and the first few we have received back are at the link below.
Click here to see the Australian action lists received so far. We’ll add further responses to this Google sheet as they arrive.
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.
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)