Climate Change Survey 2021

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In October 2021 the Local Government Association (LGA) conducted a survey of the climate change officers of all councils in England.

Summary

Background

In October 2021 the LGA conducted a survey of the climate change officers of all councils in England. The purposes of the survey were to assess what actions local authorities are taking to combat climate change, to assess their future needs for support in this area, and to evaluate the climate change sector support offer provided by the LGA. At total of 178 responded – a response rate of 53 per cent.

Key messages

  • Respondents valued the climate change support provided by the LGA and indicated that a wide range of support in this area would be invaluable in the future.
  • Most authorities measured their carbon emissions, regularly published carbon baselines and had established an official target for net zero or carbon neutrality.
  • Most respondent authorities had agreed and up-to-date climate change strategies, executive climate change portfolio holders, and had climate related risks embedded into their corporate risk registers.
  • Respondent councils faced a range of challenges to enacting climate change action and securing the required resources and staff capacity to do so, including overall amount of funding, short-term funding cycles, and lack of clarity on goals or instructions for implementing successful climate change related projects.
  • A large majority of respondent councils had experienced one or more climate related incidents in the last five years, most frequently flooding but also including heatwaves, wildfires, storms and cold weather.
  • Councils have implemented a wide range of measures to mitigate and adapt to changing climates and are adapting to changing circumstances to deliver further climate related action in future.
  • Councils have established a wide range of partnerships with other local authorities and other organisations to combat climate change.

Key findings

  • The LGA Green Webinars Series was the form of climate change support provided by the LGA which respondents were most familiar with.
  • Over seven tenths of local authorities surveyed were very or fairly satisfied with climate change support provided by the LGA.
  • Nine tenths of respondents were very or fairly likely to recommend the LGA’s climate change support to other councils.
  • Over nine tenths of respondents reported that the LGA’s climate change support has had a positive impact on their council to at least a small extent.
  • The types of climate change support which respondents would most value from the LGA in future include educating the public and changing public behaviour and low carbon procurement in terms of areas of climate action, and climate change workshops and events in terms of support provided.
  • The main challenge to securing the needed expertise and skills for climate change work was short-term funding necessitating 12-month contracts.
  • More than eight out of ten respondents were already measuring their council’s scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions.
  • Almost 80 per cent of respondent councils had set a target for becoming carbon neutral or net zero.
  • Over three quarters of these targets had a targeted date of 2030 or before.
  • Almost nine out of ten respondent councils had an executive council member with climate change issues specified in their portfolio.
  • Almost three quarters of respondent councils had an agreed and up-to-date climate change strategy.
  • The types of climate change mitigation project areas which respondent councils were most frequently involved in delivering were the installation of energy saving measures in the council’s own building stock, electric charging points and communications campaigns around mitigation.
  • Over seven tenths of respondent authorities were affected by a climate related incident in the last five years, with flooding being the predominant type.
  • The types of climate change adaptation project areas which respondent councils were most frequently involved in delivering were wildlife protection and biodiversity, sustainable urban drainage and flood awareness campaigns for residents.
  • Almost eight out of ten respondents already had partnerships in place with other local authorities to reduce climate change.
  • Over four fifths of respondents stated that the limited amount of available funding was a barrier to their authority tackling climate change to a great extent, and no respondents said that amount of funding was not a barrier at all.

 Bar chart showing key findings from the survey. Headline findings include 90 per cent of respondents being likely to recommend LGA climate change support to other councils, 85 per cent of councils measuring their scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions, 79 per cent with partnerships to reduce carbon emissions in place with other local authorities, and 82 per cent reporting that amount of funding is a barrier to tackling climate change to a great extent.
Figure 1. Summary of key findings from the 2021 climate change survey

Introduction

In October to December 2021 the Local Government Association (LGA) conducted a survey of climate change officers or equivalent across all councils in England. The purposes of the survey were to assess what actions local authorities are taking to combat climate change as well as their future needs for support in this area, and to evaluate the climate change sector support offer provided by the LGA. Topics included carbon emissions, carbon neutral target dates, the embedding of climate change action in corporate structures and strategic planning, and specific actions which authorities may have taken in relation to climate change mitigation or adaptation. (For the purpose of this exercise, climate change mitigation refers to efforts to reduce the scale of climate change, whilst climate change adaptation refers to efforts to reduce the negative impacts of climate change on communities.)

Methodology

In October 2021, the LGA’s Research and Information Team sent an online survey to contacts responsible for climate change across all councils in England, including district councils, county councils and single-tier councils. This survey was able to be completed by whichever officer in each authority was best placed to do so, even if this was not the officer originally contacted about the survey. Of the 333 councils in England, a total of 178 replied – a response rate of 53 per cent.

Whilst these results should strictly be taken as a snapshot of the views of this particular group of respondents, rather than representative of all climate change officers in local authorities, this level of response means that the results are likely to provide a good indication of the position of the sector more widely.

Table 1 shows the response rate by type of council. This demonstrates that the authority type with the highest response rate was unitary authorities, at 68 per cent, whilst metropolitan district councils had the lowest response rate, at 38 per cent.

Table 1: Response rate by type of council
Type of authority Total number Number of responses

Response rate %

District 181 92 51%
County 24 14 58%
London borough 33 18 55%
Metropolitan district 36 14 38%
Unitary 59 40 68%

 

Table 2 shows the response rate by region. This shows that the region with the highest response rate was the South West, at 72 per cent, whilst the one with the lowest response rate was the West Midlands, at 45 per cent. 

Table 2: Response rate by region

 Region

Total number

Number of responses

Response rate (%)

East of England

50

27

54%

East Midlands

39

20

51%

London

33

18

55%

North East

12

6

50%

North West

41

22

54%

South East

70

33

47%

South West

33

24

72%

West Midlands

33

15

45%

Yorkshire and Humber

22

13

59%

 

In addition, the following points should be noted about the research methodology:

  • Please note that the bases from which percentages were calculated vary throughout the survey, as not all respondents were shown all questions, and all questions were optional, meaning that some respondents chose not to answer them.
  • Throughout the report percentages in figures and tables may add to more than 100 per cent due to rounding. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole per cent, and large numerical figures are rounded to the nearest thousand.

Climate Change Survey 2021

This section contains analysis of the full results from the survey.

Awareness of LGA climate change support

Respondents were asked the extent to which they were aware of various aspects of the LGA’s Climate Change Sector Support Programme. The results for this question are shown in Table 3. Respondents showed varying levels of knowledge of each of the forms of support, with the most widely known including the LGA Green Webinars Series (93 per cent to at least a small extent), the LGA and Local Partnerships Greenhouse Gas Accounting Tool (89 per cent), and the LGA Climate Change E-bulletin (84 per cent).

The least known forms of support include the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny Guidance 10 questions to scrutinise climate action (with 60 per cent having no awareness of it at all), the Local Action for Our Environment podcast (62 per cent), and the reduced rate pricing offered by Aurora Energy Research (75 per cent).

Table 3: To what extent are you aware of the following forms of support around climate change that the LGA provides?
 

To at least a small extent

To a great extent

To a moderate extent

To a small extent

Not at all

LGA Green Webinars Series e.g. biodiversity, energy, community engagement and LGA conference

93%

36%

33%

24%

7%

LGA and Local Partnerships Greenhouse Gas Accounting tool

89%

38%

33%

18%

12%

LGA Climate Change E-bulletin

84%

42%

28%

14%

16%

The Climate Emergency Knowledge Hub

83%

24%

32%

27%

18%

Climate Change Case Studies including the Pass the Planet campaign

79%

19%

31%

29%

20%

The Net Zero Innovation Programme

78%

14%

36%

28%

22%

The LGA Climate Change Webpage Support Hub

78%

12%

35%

31%

21%

The Local Pathway to Net Zero Guidance for Councillors

71%

14%

25%

32%

29%

LGA Leadership Essentials: Climate Emergency

64%

8%

28%

28%

36%

LGA Climate Change Communications Guide

62%

5%

29%

28%

37%

LGA Behaviour Change and the Environment Guide

55%

5%

24%

26%

45%

The Design in the Public Sector Programme

53%

5%

18%

30%

47%

LGA Biodiversity e-learning

49%

5%

15%

29%

50%

The Leading and Learning Green Jobs Programme (action learning sets)

43%

3%

14%

26%

57%

The Centre for Governance and Scrutiny Guidance 10 questions to scrutinise climate action

40%

5%

15%

20%

60%

Local Action for Our Environment podcast

38%

4%

10%

24%

62%

Other (please specify)

33%

5%

14%

14%

68%

Access to reduced rate local authority pricing for Aurora Energy Research market forecasts through Local Partnerships

24%

1%

7%

16%

75%

 

Satisfaction with LGA climate change support

Respondents were asked how satisfied or dissatisfied they were overall with the LGA Climate Change Sector Support Programme. The results for this question are displayed in Table 4. In total, 71 per cent of respondents were very or fairly satisfied with the climate change support offered by the LGA, including 16 per cent who were very satisfied and a further 55 per cent who were fairly satisfied. Around 29 per cent of respondents were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with this aspect of the LGA’s support offer, whilst one per cent of respondents were fairly dissatisfied and no respondents were very dissatisfied.

Table 4: Overall, how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the support offered through the LGA Climate Change Sector Support Programme?
 

Per cent

Very or fairly satisfied

71%

Very satisfied

16%

Fairly satisfied

55%

Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

29%

Fairly dissatisfied

1%

Very dissatisfied

0%

Base: all respondents who answered this question (154 respondents).

Respondents were asked how likely they would be to recommend the LGA Climate Change Sector Support Programme to other councils. The results for this question are shown in Table 5. Ninety per cent of respondents said they were very or fairly likely to recommend the LGA’s climate change support in this way, consisting of 29 per cent of respondents who were very likely to recommend the LGA and a further 61 per cent who were fairly likely to recommend the programme. Around ten per cent were not likely to recommend the LGA Climate Change Sector Support Programme, including one per cent who were not at all likely and a further nine per cent who were not very likely to recommend the programme.

Table 5: How likely would you be to recommend the LGA Climate Change Sector Support Programme to other councils?
 

Per cent

Very or fairly likely

90%

Very likely

29%

Fairly likely

61%

Not very likely

9%

Not at all likely

1%

Base: all respondents who answered this question (130 respondents).

Respondents were asked to what extent the LGA Climate Change Sector Support Programme has had a positive impact on their council. The results to this question are shown in Table 6. Around eight per cent of respondents indicated that this support has had a positive impact to a great extent, whilst 43 per cent indicated that this was true to a moderate extent and 44 per cent to a small extent. A further five per cent indicated that this was not the case at all regarding their own local authority.

Table 6: To what extent, if at all, do you think that the climate change support your authority has received from the LGA has had a positive impact on your council?
 

Per cent

To at least a small extent

95%

To a great extent

8%

To a moderate extent

43%

To a small extent

44%

Not at all

5%

Base: all respondents who answered the question (140 respondents)

Future climate change support needs

Respondents were asked in what areas, if any, they could benefit from expertise, skills and support delivered by the LGA in relation to climate change. This included two separate though related lists of areas of support:

  • areas of climate action for the support to focus on
  • types of support delivered.

Tables 7 and 8 show the results for this question for areas of climate action and types of LGA support respectively. These results show that the areas of climate action action which the respondents would most value in future are educating the public or changing public behaviour, mentioned by 81 per cent of respondents, low carbon procurement (selected by 75 per cent), embedding carbon considerations into decision-making (selected by 74 per cent), and green economic planning (selected by 73 per cent).

Table 7: In what areas, if any, could your authority benefit from expertise, skills and support delivered by the LGA? Areas of climate action
 

Per cent

Educating the public/changing public behaviour

81%

Low carbon procurement

75%

Embedding carbon considerations into decision-making

74%

Green economic planning

73%

Adaptation to changing climates

65%

Carbon budgeting

64%

Energy support, including renewable energy and local area energy planning

62%

Communications on climate change

60%

Carbon auditing

52%

Sustainable urban/town/rural planning

51%

Electric vehicle charging infrastructure

50%

Energy efficient building measures

49%

Climate justice

45%

Sustainable transport planning

40%

Biodiversity

40%

Other area(s) of climate action (please specify)

10%

 

The results in Table 8 show that the types of LGA support most commonly selected to benefit authorities were climate change workshops and events (selected by 82 per cent of respondents), sector specific guidance on good practice for scope 3 carbon emissions (selected by 76 per cent), and good practice and case studies (selected by 75 per cent).

Table 8: In what areas, if any, could your authority benefit from expertise, skills and support delivered by the LGA? Types of LGA support
 

Per cent

Climate change workshops and events

82%

Sector specific good practice guidance on scope 3 emissions

76%

Good practice and case studies

75%

Bespoke council peer support

48%

Peer benchmarking

45%

Leadership programmes

42%

Action learning sets

40%

Podcasts

20%

Other expertise of method(s) of support (please specify below)

8%

 

Challenges to securing climate expertise

Respondents were asked to select the main challenges to securing the needed expertise and skills in climate change work. Table 9 and Figure 2 show the results for this question: the most frequently cited challenges were short-term funding necessitating 12-month contracts (selected by 49 per cent of respondents), difficulty upskilling current staff capacity (selected by 44 per cent), uncertainty as to which areas needing further development should be prioritised (selected by 38 per cent), and difficulty finding candidates with the required skills (selected by 37 per cent). Thirty-four respondents provided other main challenges to securing the needed expertise and skills in climate change work. A condensed list of these suggested areas is as follows:

  • difficulties recruiting suitable candidates
  • difficulty finding qualified fitters for green energy solutions such as air source heat pumps
  • implementation of green education, curriculum to improve people skill and knowledge
  • it is everyone's role in the council, so everyone needs a base level of understanding and commitment
  • lack of capacity and dedication of those who have a larger influence in the organisation
  • lack of funding
  • lack of headspace in existing roles
  • lack of staff capacity
  • mainstreaming sustainability into all local government/public sector professions/cllrs
  • need for clear pathways for different professions beyond initial 'carbon literacy' competence. 
  • our team is entirely funded by external funding so we have to focus on externally funded projects rather than the core response to climate change.
  • recruitment freeze
  • there is no dedicated member of staff to undertake climate change works
  • this needs political will to create this post.
Table 9: What would you say are the main challenges to securing the needed expertise and skills in climate change work?
 

Per cent

Short-term funding necessitating 12-month contracts

49%

Difficulty upskilling current staff capacity

44%

Uncertainty as to which areas in need of further development should be prioritised

38%

Difficulty finding candidates with the required skills

37%

Uncertainty as to what expertise and skills should be prioritised

31%

Inability to compete with other employers in terms of salaries

28%

Other (please specify below)

19%

Figure 2. Bar chart showing the main challenges to securing the needed expertise and skills in climate change work. The most often selected were short-term funding necessitating 12-month contracts, difficulty upskilling current staff capacity, and uncertainty as to which areas in need of further development should be prioritised.
Figure 2. What would you say are the main challenges to securing the needed expertise and skills in climate change work?

Measurement of carbon emissions

Respondents were asked both whether their council already measured or was planning to measure their own carbon emissions as a local authority, and those of their local area. A distinction was made between scope 1 and 2 emissions (all direct emissions and indirect emissions from purchased electricity respectively) and scope 3 emissions (all other indirect emissions, for example those resulting from business travel, procurement, waste and water). For more information see https://compareyourfootprint.com/difference-scope-1-2-3-emissions.

Table 10 and Figure 3 show the results of this question. All respondents were measuring or developing plans to measure their own local authority’s scope 1 and 2 emissions, with 85 per cent already measuring and the remaining 14 per cent planning to measure these emissions. Around 48 per cent were already measuring their authority’s scope 3 emissions, whilst 41 per cent were planning to measure and nine per cent had no current plans to measure these emissions.

Fifty per cent of respondents were already measuring the scope 1 and 2 emissions of their authority’s local area, with 24 per cent planning to measure and 22 per cent with no plans to measure these emissions. Finally, 15 per cent already measured their area’s scope 3 emissions, whereas 32 per cent were developing plans to measure them and 46 per cent had no current plans to measure them.

Table 10: Is your authority currently measuring, or not measuring, the carbon emissions of the following?
  Authority   Local area  
 

Scope 1 and 2 (per cent)

Scope 3 (per cent)

Scope 1 and 2 (per cent)

Scope 3 (per cent)

Yes, already measured

85%

48%

50%

15%

No, but plans to measure in development

14%

41%

24%

32%

No, and no current plans to develop measures yet

0%

9%

22%

46%

Don’t know

0%

0%

0%

0%

Base (all respondents who answered the question)

177

174

171

170

 

Stacked bar chart showing measurement of carbon emissions measured by respondents' authorities. All respondents currently measured or planned to develop measurements for scope 1 and 2 emissions of their own authorities. Almost three quarters of respondents measured or planned to measure the scope 1 and 2 emissions of their authority's local area.
Figure 3. Is your authority currently measuring, or not measuring, the carbon emissions of the following?

Respondents who already measured scope 1 and 2 and scope 3 emissions were asked to report the latest financial year in which these emissions were measured. These results are shown in Table 11 and Figure 4: almost half (49 per cent) of respondents who were measuring scope 1 and 2 emissions for their local authority had last measured these in 2020/21, with a further nine per cent having last measured these emissions in 2021/22. Around 26 per cent last measured their authority’s scope 1 and 2 emissions in 2019/20, 12 per cent in 2018/19, and four per cent in 2017/18 or earlier. A very similar distribution existed for local authority scope 3 emissions.

Local area emissions tended to have last been measured less recently, with almost 50 per cent last measured in 2018/19 and around 20 to 40 per cent last measured in 2019/20.

Table 11: In which financial years were the latest carbon emissions measured?
  Authority   Local area  
 

Scope 1 and 2 (per cent)

Scope 3 (per cent)

Scope 1 and 2 (per cent)

Scope 3 (per cent)

2017/18 or earlier

4%

7%

6%

8%

2018/19

12%

12%

40%

46%

2019/20

26%

22%

38%

29%

2020/21

49%

48%

11%

8%

2021/22

9%

10%

5%

8%

Base (all respondents who answered the question)

151

81

81

24

Stacked bar chart showing the financial years in which the latest carbon emissions were measured. For local authority carbon emissions, the predominant latest year for carbon emissions was 2020/21, whereas the latest emissions for local areas were predominantly split between 2018/19 and 2019/20.
Figure 4. In which financial years were the latest carbon emissions measured?

Respondents who had already measured their local authority’s carbon emissions were asked which method or tool they used to arrive at these emissions. Table 12 and Figure 5 show the results for this question: 48 per cent of respondents who are already measuring emissions for their authority used their own council’s tool, whilst 26 per cent used external consultancy and 19 per cent used the LGA and Local Partnerships Greenhouse Gas Accounting Tool.

Table 12: Which method or tool did you use to arrive at your authority's latest carbon emissions?
 

Per cent

Your own council’s tool

48%

External consultancy

26%

LGA and Local Partnerships Greenhouse Gas Accounting Tool

19%

Other method or tool

7%

Base: all respondents who answered this question (151 respondents).

Bar chart showing the methods or tools used to arrive at the latest carbon emissions for local authorities. Around 48 per cent used their own council tool, with 26 per cent using external consultancy and 19 per cent using the LGA and Local Partnerships Greenhouse Gas Accounting Tool. A further seven per cent specified other methods or tools.
Figure 5. Which method or tool did you use to arrive at your authority's latest carbon emissions?

Respondents who had already measured their area’s carbon emissions were asked which method or tool they used to arrive at these emissions. Table 13 and Figure 6 show the results for this question: 46 per cent of respondents measured their area’s carbon emissions using the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, whereas 24 per cent used the Setting City Area Targets and Trajectories for Emissions Reduction (SCATTER) tool, 12 per cent used external consultancy, and 6 per cent used their own council’s tool. Thirteen per cent of respondents used another method or tool to estimate their area’s carbon emissions.

Table 13:  Which method or tool did you use to arrive at your area's latest carbon emissions?
 

Per cent

BEIS National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory

46%

SCATTER tool

24%

Other method or tool

13%

External consultancy

12%

Your own council’s tool

6%

Base: all respondents who answered this question (85 respondents).

Bar chart showing the methods or tools used to arrive at the latest carbon emissions for local authority areas. The BEIS National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory accounted for 46% of respondents' estimates, the SCATTER tool for approximately 24 per cent, external consultancy for 12 per cent and their own council's tool for six per cent. Around 13 per cent indicated that they used another method or tool.
Figure 6. Which method or tool did you use to arrive at your area's latest carbon emissions?

Respondents who indicated that their authority already measures emissions of at least one of the four types was asked to provide the latest emissions measurements, measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, for any of the four types which were available. It was not possible to produce reliable overall emissions estimates based on these figures, due to a combination of factors: a low percentage of respondents providing numerical estimates; a lack of representation among all regions and authority types; extremely low numbers of estimates for scope 3 emissions provided; and considerable variation in the estimates, suggesting a combination of measurement error and incompatible measurement methodologies.

Carbon baselines and targets for carbon neutrality

Respondents were asked how often their authority publishes its carbon baseline. Table 14 and Figure 7 show the results for this question: three quarters of responding authorities published their carbon baselines on an annual basis (73 per cent of respondents), with 15 per cent publishing their baseline less often than annually, three per cent publishing their baseline more often than annually, and nine per cent never published their baseline.

Table 14:  How often does your authority publish its carbon baseline?
 

Per cent

More often than annually

3%

Annually

73%

Less often than annually

15%

Never

9%

Base: all respondents who answered this question (164 respondents).

 Bar chart showing how often respondents' authorities publish their carbon baseline. Around three per cent publish this baseline more often than annually, 73 per cent publish annually, 15 per cent publish less often than annually, and nine per cent never publish their carbon baseline.
Figure 7. How often does your authority publish its carbon baseline?

Respondents were asked whether their authority has set an official target for becoming carbon neutral for the authority itself, the area as a whole, or both. Table 15 summarises the results of this question, showing that almost 80 per cent of the respondents who answered the question indicated that their authority has set an official target for its own carbon neutrality, and 55 per cent indicated that their authority has set an official target for its area’s carbon neutrality. Around 41 per cent of respondents indicated that their council has set official targets for both of these, hence why the total of these percentages exceeds 100.

Table 15: Has your authority set an official target for becoming carbon neutral?
 

Per cent

Yes, for the authority itself

79%

Yes, for the area as a whole

55%

No

7%

Don’t know

0%

Base: all respondents who answered this question (177 respondents). As the question allowed respondents to select all responses that apply, percentages will not necessarily sum to 100.

Respondents who indicated that they have set an official target for becoming carbon neutral were asked to specify the scope of these targets- that is, whether or not they contain scope 3 emissions, as explained above. Those who indicated that their authority has set carbon neutral targets for both itself and its area were asked to answer this question twice, once for each target.

Table 16 shows the results for this question for both authority and area targets. Around 43 per cent of authority targets included scope 3 emissions, whilst 38 per cent included scope 1 and 2 emissions only. Conversely, 44 per cent of local area targets did not include scope 3 emissions, whilst 34 per cent of these targets included scope 3 emissions. In general, respondents selected the “don’t know” option more often when describing the target for their authority’s local area than when describing their authority’s target for itself.

The “other” emissions scopes specified by respondents for their authority’s target generally involved incorporation of a limited range of scope 3 emissions types, without including all forms of scope 3 emissions on grounds of feasibility of data collection and focusing on forms of emissions within the authority’s direct control. The exact types of emissions excluded and included differed markedly between respondents.

Broadly the same is true of those answering “other” regarding the target for their local area, although a significant minority of these respondents explained that they had not yet decided on the precise scope of their emissions target, or that their target was specified in a way that could not be directly linked to or defined in terms of the scope boundaries. Several respondents mentioned that their targets were based on definitions applied by external agencies, most notably the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) data release.

Table 16: Does your target include scope 3 emissions, or just scope 1 and 2 emissions?

 

Authority’s target (per cent)

Area’s target (per cent)

Includes scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions

43%

34%

Scope 1 and 2 emissions only

38%

44%

Other (please specify below)

17%

15%

Don’t know

2%

7%

Base (all respondents who answered the question)

138

94

 

Respondents who indicated that their authority has set an official carbon neutral target for itself, its area, or both were asked to specify the date or dates by which the authority and/or the area aim to become carbon neutral. As Table 17 shows, the most common single year specified as a target was 2030, alone accounting for 70 per cent of authorities’ targets for themselves. Targets specified for whole local areas tended to be distributed later than targets for local authorities themselves, with an almost even division between targets set for 2030 and targets set for after that year. For both authority and area targets, only a small minority of respondents provided carbon neutral target dates before 2030. 

Table 17: Please specify the date by which your [authority / area] is targeted to become carbon neutral.
  Authority’s target (per cent) Area’s target (per cent)

Before 2030

6%

1%

2030

70%

49%

After 2030

24%

50%

Base (all respondents who answered the question)

136

98

 

It should be noted that a significant minority of respondents noted that their target was a net zero target rather than a carbon neutral target. Carbon neutrality is achieved by balancing carbon emissions with offsetting activities, even if the emissions themselves have not been reduced. Net zero, by contrast, involves reducing emissions as far as possible and then offsetting those emissions which are unavoidable.

Climate change portfolio holders 

Respondents were asked whether there is an executive council member of their authority whose portfolio specifies a lead role on climate change. As Table 18 shows, around 89 per cent of respondents indicated that their council has a portfolio holder for climate change within its executive.

Table 18: Is there an executive council member of your authority whose portfolio specifies a lead role on climate change?
 

Per cent

Yes

89%

No

8%

Don’t know

3%

Base: all respondents who answered the question (177 respondents).

Climate change strategy 

Respondents were asked whether their authority has an agreed and up to date climate change strategy. Around 72 per cent of respondents indicated that they have a climate strategy and that it is already being delivered. A further 5 per cent reported having a completed strategy that is not yet being delivered, and a further 12 per cent said that a climate strategy is being developed but is not yet completed. Together, these responses add up to 89 per cent of respondents who answered this question. The results for this question are shown in Table 19.

Table 19: Does your authority have an agreed and up to date climate change strategy?
 

Per cent

Yes, already being delivered

72%

Yes, completed but not yet being delivered

5%

No, but currently in development

12%

No, but planning to produce one

10%

No, and no current plans to produce one yet

1%

Don’t know

0%

Base: all respondents who answered the question (177 respondents).

All respondents other than those without a strategy and with no plans to produce one were asked whether their strategy covers or will cover climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, or both. As Table 20 shows, around 72 per cent of strategies included both mitigation and adaptation, with 23 per cent covering mitigation only and no strategies covered adaptation only. Around five per cent of respondents to this question did not know if mitigation, adaptation or both were or would be covered.

Table 20: Does or will the climate change strategy cover climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, or both?
 

Per cent

Both mitigation and adaptation

72%

Mitigation only

23%

Adaptation only

0%

Don't know

5%

Base: all respondents who answered the question (174 respondents).

All respondents other than those without a strategy and with no plans to produce one were asked whether specific financial resources have already been secured to implement the strategy. As Table 21 shows, although only five per cent of respondents indicated that their council had already secured enough financial resources to implement their entire strategy, 80 per cent indicated that they had secured some of the required financial resources. A further 15 per cent indicated that they had not yet secured any of the required financial resources to implement their strategy.

Table 21: Have specific financial resources already been secured to implement the strategy?
 

Per cent

Yes, all of the resources required to implement it

5%

Yes, some of the resources required to implement it

80%

No

15%

Don’t know

0%

Base: all respondents who answered this question (172 respondents).

All respondents who indicated that their authority has already secured some or all of the financial resources required to implement their strategy were asked to specify when the funding already secured will first be provided. This question was split between mitigation and adaptation activities in case any difference in the provision of funding existed between them. As Table 22 shows, 79 per cent of funding secured for mitigation activities was already in place as of the financial year 2021/22. This figure was considerably lower among adaptation activities, at 46 per cent. Only small proportions of the respondents indicated that the funding already secured would first be provided in 2022/23 or beyond, with the remainder replying that they don’t know when the funding will first be provided. The proportion saying that they don’t know was considerably larger concerning adaptation activities (48 per cent) than that of mitigation activities (15 per cent).

Table 22: In which financial year will the funding already secured for the strategy first be provided?

 

Mitigation (per cent)

Adaptation (per cent)

Already in place as of 2021/22

79%

46%

2022/23

4%

2%

Beyond 2022/23

2%

5%

Don’t know

15%

48%

Base (all respondents who answered the question)

124

107

 

Respondents who indicated that they had already secured the funding to implement their strategy were asked to estimate the approximate amount of funding already secured within a range of time periods. Only three respondents provided an answer to this question, meaning that it was not possible to calculate reliable overall estimates for all authorities.

All respondents were asked to estimate the approximate amount of additional funding, not including any already secured, that would be required to implement climate change measures over a range of time periods. These time periods were cumulative, with, for example, the funding required for the next five financial years also included within the funding required for the next ten financial years. Between 13 and 33 respondents provided responses to this question, varying depending on the time period in question. (Some respondents provided data for an earlier time period but not a later one, for example, the next five financial years but not the next ten financial years. Because subsequent figures are cumulative and include all previous figures, it was possible to assume that these later figures would be at least as great as the figure immediately before them, and so the estimate for the previous period was copied into the estimate for the subsequent period. The fact that, in these cases, there was no increase in the total amount of additional funding required, which in practice is unlikely, means that these estimates are intrinsically conservative in nature.) 

This small number of responses means that the overall estimates below must be treated with caution, and also means that attempting to produce estimates for specific regions or authority types would be inadvisable as they would not be reliable. To prevent very high values from skewing the overall estimates, the median figure among responding authorities has been used instead of the mean (For more information on this, see https://statistics.laerd.com/statistical-guides/measures-central-tendency-mean-mode-median.php.) The estimated totals were calculated simply by multiplying these median figures by 333, the current number of councils in England.

Table 23 shows the England estimates for the additional funding required in the next five and ten financial years. Respondents were also asked to provide estimates for the next fifteen and twenty financial years, but as only a small number of respondents provided these figures overall estimates have not been provided. As this shows, the estimated additional funding, not including funding already secured, required by local authorities to deliver their climate change strategies in the next five financial years was around £3.5 billion, and the figure for the next ten financial years was around £6.7 billion.

Communications plan for climate change

All respondents were asked whether their authority has a communications plan for climate change. As Table 24 shows, around 68 per cent of respondents indicated that their authority has a communications plan that is either completed or in development, including 42 per cent who indicated that their communications plan is being delivered and a further five per cent who indicated that their communications plan is complete, although not yet being delivered. Around 26 per cent indicated that their authority was planning to produce a communications plan for climate change, though such a plan was not yet in development. Only five per cent of respondents indicated that their authority has no communications plan for climate change and no plans to produce one yet.

Table 24: Does your authority have a communications plan for climate change?
 

Per cent

Yes, being delivered

42%

Yes, completed but not yet being delivered

5%

No, but in development

21%

No, but planning to produce one

26%

No, and no current plans to produce one yet

5%

Don’t know

1%

Respondents were asked to specify the principal aims of their authority’s communications plan. As Table 25 and Figure 8 show, the chief aims selected were influencing behaviour change among residents (79 per cent of respondents), showcasing the authority’s climate change actions (76 per cent), influencing behaviour change among local businesses (71 per cent) and influencing behaviour change among staff (69 per cent).

Table 25: Please specify the principal aims of your authority's communications plan.
 

Per cent

To influence behaviour change among residents

79%

To showcase the authority's climate change actions

76%

To influence behaviour change among local businesses

71%

To influence behaviour change among staff

69%

To increase awareness of local climate change support schemes

61%

To increase awareness of national climate change support schemes

47%

To transmit information on climate change beyond the authority

44%

To solicit information on climate change within the authority

31%

Other aims

3%

Base: all respondents (178 respondents).

Bar chart showing the principal aims of the communications plans of respondents' local authorities. The aims most often selected include influencing behaviour change among residents, at 79 per cent of respondents, showcasing the authority's climate change actions, at 76 per cent of respondents, and influencing behaviour change among local businesses, at 71 per cent of respondents.
Figure 8. Please specify the principal aims of your authority's communications plan.

Respondents were asked to indicate which of a range of communications activities their authority was undertaking or planning to undertake around climate change. Respondents were able to select all activities that applied to them. As Table 26 and Figure 9 show, the most frequently cited communications activities were website messaging and social media activity (both 91 per cent), local events (69 per cent), parish and town council engagement (48 per cent) and surveys (46 per cent).

Table 26: Which of the following communications activities are you undertaking or planning to undertake around climate change? Please select all that apply.
 

Per cent

Website messaging

91%

Social media activity

91%

Local events

69%

Parish and town council engagement

48%

Surveys

46%

Citizens and/or youth assemblies or juries

34%

Other (please specify below)

21%

Blog activity

19%

None of the above

1%

Base: all respondents (178 respondents).

Bar chart showing the communications activities which respondents' councils are undertaking or planning to undertake around climate change. The communications activities selected most often included website messaging and social media activity (both 91 per cent of respondents), local events (69 per cent), parish and town council engagement (48 per cent) and surveys (46 per cent).
Figure 9. Which of the following communications activities are you undertaking or planning to undertake around climate change?

Of the 38 respondents who selected the “other” option, 36 provided textual comments to clarify the nature of these activities. The activities which they mentioned can be grouped into the following categories, with some individual comments accounting for more than one category:

  • area wide 'hub' of different partners
  • awards
  • behaviour change app
  • climate awareness store
  • community climate champions
  • community engagement via online platform (Engagement HQ)
  • email bulletin
  • engagement with local community groups
  • events for stakeholders
  • films and images, culture, exhibitions and arts
  • local 'climate action network'
  • local press
  • neighbourhood Fora
  • online webinars
  • pledge campaign
  • press releases
  • promoting case studies
  • schools/colleges engagement
  • staff intranet information.

Climate change mitigation project areas delivered 

Respondents were asked to indicate which of a series of climate change mitigation project areas their authority had delivered in the last ten years, was delivering currently, or planned to deliver in future. Respondents could select any answer that applied, including multiple responses for each mitigation project area (for example, if they had delivered a particular project area in the past and planned to do so again in future).

Table 27 shows the responses as percentages of the total number of respondents to this question. It shows that the most frequently selected mitigation project areas overall included installing energy saving measures in the council’s own building stock, electric charging points, communications campaigns around climate change and small-scale solar photovoltaic installations. Project areas which were relatively frequently delivered in the past, but which were not planned very frequently in future, include combined heat and power (excluding waste schemes), solar water heating and energy from biomass. Conversely, projects which had not been delivered frequently in the past, but which were increasingly planned looking forward, included large-scale photovoltaic installations, ground source heat pumps, divestment from companies posing an environmental risk, and introducing hybrid or electric buses on bus routes. Project areas which have historically had low uptake, and which were not frequently planned for the future, included biofuels or biogas and wind energy.

Table 27: Which, if any, of the following climate change mitigation project areas has your authority delivered in the last ten years, is delivering currently, or plans to deliver in the next ten years? You may select more than one response for each project area.

 

Have previously delivered in the last ten years

Delivering currently

Plan to deliver in the next two years

Plan to deliver in the longer term

Installation of energy saving measures in the council's own building stock

61%

60%

43%

26%

Electric charging points

51%

60%

45%

27%

Communications campaigns around mitigation

34%

53%

43%

23%

Small-scale solar photovoltaic installations (less than 1MW)

51%

40%

34%

25%

Installation of energy saving measures in community buildings

35%

37%

32%

22%

Other mitigation project areas

21%

41%

36%

20%

Large-scale solar photovoltaic installations (1MW or greater)

13%

14%

17%

36%

Ground source heat pumps

8%

14%

20%

27%

Divestment from companies posing an environmental risk in your authority’s assets and pension scheme

8%

13%

16%

21%

Energy from waste

18%

18%

5%

9%

Combined heat and power (excluding waste schemes)

25%

12%

4%

9%

Increasing bus routes

9%

11%

16%

11%

Solar water heating

21%

5%

7%

12%

Introducing hybrid or electric buses on bus routes

5%

7%

13%

14%

Energy from biomass

22%

5%

2%

8%

Biofuels or biogas

7%

4%

8%

10%

Wind energy

7%

2%

1%

8%

Base: all respondents who answered this question (169 respondents).

The other mitigation project areas specified by the respondents were grouped into the following broad categories, some of which were variations on the options provided in the questionnaire:

  • home or community grants or renewability schemes (14 respondents);
  • replacing council vehicles with more sustainable alternatives (12 respondents);
  • Air source heat pumps (10 respondents);
  • Tree planting as a method of mitigating climate change (10 respondents);
  • Changes to strategies, plans and policies (seven respondents);
  • Carbon literacy training and education (six respondents);
  • District heat networks (six respondents);
  • Encouraging walking, cycling and exercise (four respondents);
  • Business engagement and support (three respondents);
  • Encouraging recycling and reducing non-recyclable materials (three respondents);
  • Hydroelectric power (three respondents);
  • Peatland restoration (three respondents);
  • Battery storage (two respondents);
  • Changes to procurement or contracts to improve renewability (two respondents);
  • Cycling infrastructure (two respondents);
  • Decarbonisation support programmes (two respondents);
  • Hydrogen-powered vehicles (two respondents);
  • Mine water heating (two respondents);
  • Retrofitting street lights with more efficient alternatives (two respondents);
  • A collection of other project areas mentioned by one respondent each:
    • Biodiversity-related mitigation projects
    • Clean air or low emissions zones
    • Climate change mitigation in agriculture
    • Heat recovery systems
    • Research initiatives
    • Utilising waste heat
    • Water source heat pumps

Figure 10 shows the relative frequency of words included in the comments around other mitigation project areas employed (Figure 10 and all sub sequent word clouds in this support were produced using https://worditout.com.)

Word cloud showing the relative frequency of words in the other climate change mitigation project areas which respondents specified. The most prominent words are "heat", "source", "air", "planting" and "energy"
Which, if any, of the following climate change mitigation project areas has your authority delivered in the last ten years, is delivering currently, or plans to deliver in the next ten years? Other climate change mitigation specified project areas

Flooding and other climate related incidents

Respondents were asked whether their authority’s local area had been affected by a climate related incident in the past five years. As Table 28 shows, over 70 per cent of respondents reported that their authority’s local area had been affected by a climate related incident in this time

Table 28: Has your authority's local area been affected by a climate related incident in the last five years?
 

Per cent

Yes

71%

No

14%

Don’t know

15%

Base: all respondents who answered the question (174 respondents).

Those respondents who indicated that there had been a climate related incident were asked to briefly specify the nature and consequences of this incident in an open text box. In all, 122 respondents provided textual information of this nature. These responses can be grouped into the following categories:

The nature of the climate related incidents:

  • Flooding (120 respondents);
  • Heatwaves, heat damage and wildfires (23 respondents);
  • Storms (seven respondents);
  • Water shortages and droughts (five respondents);
  • Coastal erosion and rising sea levels (five respondents);
  • Cold weather (three respondents);
  • Landslips or landslides (two respondents);
  • A variety of climate related incidents mentioned by one respondent each:
    • Trees falling
    • Drying of chalk streams
    • Water pollution
    • Strong winds

The consequences of the climate related incidents:

  • Damage caused to homes (25 respondents);
  • Damage to property (15 respondents);
  • Difficulties caused to businesses and livelihoods (13 respondents);
  • Disruption to travel and transport networks (nine respondents);
  • Risk to or loss of lives (three respondents);
  • Strain on council services due to additional requests for support (two respondents);
  • Vulnerable groups at risk of physical or mental illness (two respondents);
  • A variety of consequences mentioned by one respondent each:
    • Decreasing biodiversity
    • Disruption to electricity network
    • Increased disruption to adults' social services
    • Increasing deprivation
    • People evacuated
    • Poor crop yields

Figure 11 shows the relative frequency of words mentioned in these comments.

Word cloud showing the relative frequency of words in text provided to describe the nature and consequences of climate related incidents affecting respondents' local authorities. The word "flooding" predominates over other words by a wide margin, followed by "water", "damage", "events" and "homes".
Figure 11. Please briefly describe the nature and consequences of the climate related incident(s).

Embedding of climate change risks in corporate risk registers

Respondents were asked the extent to which their local authority has climate related risks embedded in its corporate risk register. As Table 29 and Figure 12 demonstrate, 69 per cent of respondents stated that climate related risks are embedded in their risk register to at least a small extent. This includes 13 per cent of respondents who answered to a great extent, 32 per cent who answered to a moderate extent, and 24 per cent to a small extent.

 

Table 29: To what extent does your local authority have climate related risks embedded in your corporate risk register?
 

Per cent

To at least a small extent

69%

To a great extent

13%

To a moderate extent

32%

To a small extent

24%

Not at all

7%

Don't know

25%

Base: all respondents who answered the question (169 respondents).

Bar chart showing the extent to which respondents' local authorities have climate related risks embedded in their corporate risk registers. In all, 69 per cent of respondents had these risks embedded in their risk register to at least a small extent, including 13 per cent to a great extent, 32 per cent to a moderate extent, and 24 per cent to a small extent.
Figure 12. To what extent does your local authority have climate related risks embedded in your corporate risk register?

Climate change adaptation project areas delivered

Respondents were asked to indicate which of a series of climate change adaptation project areas their authority had delivered in the last ten years, was delivering currently, or planned to deliver in future. Respondents could select any answer that applied, including multiple responses for each adaptation project area.

Table 30 shows the responses as percentages of the total number of respondents to this question. It shows that the most prevalent adaptation project areas overall were wildlife protection and biodiversity, sustainable urban drainage, flood awareness campaigns for residents and minimum flood resilience criteria for new developments in flood-risk areas. Project areas more frequently delivered in the past than in the present or planned for the future included contingency plans for vulnerable people and the wider community and heat wave awareness campaigns. Project areas delivered frequently at present but not planned as frequently for the future included wildlife protection and biodiversity, sustainable urban drainage, flood awareness campaigns, minimum flood resilience criteria, and installation of flood defences. The only project area more frequently planned for the future than delivered at present was retrofitting existing buildings against climate change.

Table 30: Which, if any, of the following climate change adaptation project areas has your authority delivered in the last ten years, is delivering currently, or plans to deliver in the next ten years? You may select more than one response for each project area.

 

Have previously delivered in the last ten years

Delivering currently

Plan to deliver in the next two years

Plan to deliver in the longer term

Wildlife protection and biodiversity

41%

58%

38%

30%

Sustainable urban drainage

39%

54%

29%

26%

Flood awareness campaigns for residents

39%

38%

24%

21%

Minimum flood resilience criteria for new developments in flood-risk areas

28%

45%

23%

19%

Future proofing new buildings against climate change

16%

31%

30%

25%

Retrofitting existing buildings against climate change

16%

28%

29%

29%

Installation of flood defences

33%

38%

14%

15%

Contingency plans for vulnerable people in heat waves, flooding etc.

31%

28%

21%

18%

Contingency plans for the wider community in heat waves, flooding etc.

30%

29%

20%

16%

Heat wave awareness campaigns for residents

25%

13%

19%

13%

Other adaptation project areas

8%

11%

7%

6%

Base: all respondents who answered this question (160 respondents).

The other adaptation project areas specified by the respondents were grouped into the following broad categories, some of which were variations on the options provided in the questionnaire:

  • Green infrastructure, for example green roofs (five respondents);
  • Tree planting as a method of climate change adaptation (five respondents);
  • Natural flood management (three respondents);
  • Plans and strategies (three respondents);
  • Risk and impact assessments (three respondents);
  • Coastal protection schemes (two respondents);
  • Support to and engagement with businesses and sectors of industry (two respondents);
  • A collection of other project areas mentioned by one respondent each:
    • Blue infrastructure
    • Community resilience projects
    • De-culverting watercourses
    • Drought resilience projects
    • Heat stress monitoring and reduction
    • Local resilience fora and networks
    • More flexible transport and infrastructure management adapting to less predictable seasons
    • Raising awareness of climate change risks with care providers
    • Training for council staff
    • Wildfire awareness campaigns

Figure 13 shows the relative frequency of words included in the comments around other adaptation project areas employed.

Word cloud showing the relative frequency of words among other climate change adaptation project areas which respondents mentioned that their authority had been involved in. Prominent words include "infrastructure", "green", "planting" and "resilience".
Figure 13. Which, if any, of the following climate change adaptation project areas has your authority delivered in the last ten years, is delivering currently, or plans to deliver in the next ten years? Other climate change adaptation specified project areas

Partnerships to reduce carbon emissions

Respondents were asked whether their authority had existing or planned partnerships with a range of other organisations to reduce carbon emissions. As Table 31 shows, the organisations which authorities most often had existing or planned partnerships with were other local authorities, followed by other specified organisations, local energy hubs, and various local partners and community groups including residents’ groups. Partnerships already in place generally outnumbered planned partnerships, with exceptions being private landlords and the Carbon Trust, where more respondents said that they were planning partnerships than had existing partnerships already in place. Types of organisation which respondents predominantly had no plans to establish partnerships with included the Carbon Trust, the Energy Saving Trust Advice Centre and energy generators and suppliers.

The other organisations with established or planned partnerships can be grouped into the following categories:

  • Local Enterprise Partnerships (four respondents);
  • Charities (two respondents);
  • Wildlife Trusts (two respondents);
  • A variety of other organisations and types of organisation which were mentioned by one respondent each:
    • Canal Trust
    • Chambers of Commerce
    • Climate Action Partnerships
    • Climate Commissions
    • Collaboration with a range of stakeholders without formal partnerships
    • Councils for Voluntary Services
    • Energy Systems Catapult
    • Levelling Up Fund
    • Local Nature Partnerships
    • National Farmers Union
    • Rivers Trust
    • Small and large businesses other than those already mentioned elsewhere
    • Town and Parish Councils
    • Utility companies beyond energy generators and suppliers
Table 31: Does your authority have partnerships in place, or plans to put partnerships in place, with any of the following bodies to reduce carbon emissions? Please select all that apply.

 

Partnership in place

Partnership planned in future

No planned partnership currently

Other local authorities

79%

15%

6%

Other organisations (please specify)

79%

11%

0%

Local energy hubs

66%

18%

8%

Other local partners/community groups

60%

23%

8%

Local residents or residents' groups

46%

34%

15%

Universities

47%

23%

15%

Schools

42%

27%

18%

Local/regional energy efficiency agencies

45%

20%

15%

Further education providers

35%

29%

20%

Registered social landlords

42%

21%

17%

Local Partnerships

44%

16%

22%

NHS bodies

32%

26%

26%

Private landlords

21%

26%

31%

Energy suppliers

31%

15%

33%

Commercial consultancies

28%

14%

35%

Anthesis (SCATTER)

27%

11%

39%

Energy generators

20%

18%

41%

Energy Saving Trust Advice Centre

25%

13%

40%

Carbon Trust (CT)

9%

10%

55%

 

Barriers to tackling climate change 

Respondents were asked the extent to which a variety of factors were a barrier to their authority tackling climate change. As Table 32 and Figure 14 show, the most frequently reported barriers were amount of funding (97 per cent to a great or moderate extent), accessibility of funding (94 per cent), lack of workforce capacity (92 per cent), internal skills and expertise (77 per cent), conditions of funding (87 per cent), and reliability of funding (74 per cent). Among some selected barriers, such as the amount, the accessibility, and the reliability of funding, the barrier tended to predominantly exist to a great extent, whereas other barriers, such as skills and expertise and lack of support, existed more often only to a small extent.

Table 32: To what extent or not are the following factors a barrier to your authority tackling climate change?

 

To a great extent (per cent)

To a moderate extent (per cent)

To a small extent (per cent)

Not at all (per cent)

Base (all respondents who answered the question)

Amount of funding

82%

15%

4%

0%

168

Accessibility of funding

75%

19%

4%

0%

167

Lack of workforce capacity

64%

28%

6%

1%

163

Internal skills and expertise

28%

49%

21%

2%

163

Conditions of funding

59%

28%

10%

1%

162

Reliability of funding

74%

18%

5%

1%

160

Market skills and expertise

18%

39%

26%

7%

152

Legislation or regulation

45%

24%

8%

5%

96

Other barriers

61%

15%

0%

3%

33

Lack of public support

5%

19%

42%

27%

154

Lack of political support

4%

16%

26%

50%

157

Stacked bar chart showing the percentage of respondents who indicated that certain factors are barriers to their authority tackling climate change to a great, moderate or small extent. The most frequently selected barriers include the amount of funding, accessibility of funding and lack of workforce capacity.
Figure 14. To what extent are the following factors a barrier to your authority tackling climate change?

Respondents who identified legislation or regulation as a barrier to tackling climate change were asked to specify which pieces of legislation or regulation were presenting such barriers. The categories which emerged were as follows:

  • National Planning Policy Framework and other planning legislation and regulation, generally regarded as insufficiently rigorous in environmental terms (28 respondents);
  • Building regulations, also regarded as insufficiently rigorous (13 respondents);
  • Clarity and leadership required from central government and the national policy position (four respondents);
  • Lack of statutory responsibility (four respondents);
  • Removal of energy performance and generation incentives (two respondents);
  • A variety of other pieces of legislation and regulation which were mentioned by one respondent each:
    • Removal of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
    • Future Homes Standard
    • Issue with standards not being sufficiently enforceable
    • National policy on onshore wind
    • Procurement regulations
    • Need for legislation to support and enable decentralised energy generation
    • The Department for Transport’s approach to funding transport schemes
    • Ventilation requirements to help prevent COVID-19 and other illnesses resulting in heat loss
    • Taxation

Figure 15 shows the relative frequency of words provided in relation to legislative and regulatory barriers.

Word cloud showing the relative  frequency of words provided by respondents to specify pieces of legislation or regulation which they consider a barrier to their authority tackling climate change. The most prominent words include "planning", "building", "national", "policy" and "legislation".
Figure 15. To what extent are the following factors a barrier to your authority tackling climate change? - Legislation or regulation (please specify)

Respondents were also asked to specify which other barriers exist to their authority tackling climate change. The additional barriers provided by respondents were as follows:

  • Lack of senior ownership and leadership within the council (three respondents);
  • Competing priorities with statutory functions and other council objectives (three respondents);
  • Lack of data on climate change projects delivered elsewhere (two respondents);
  • Lack of awareness of the scale and speed of the change required (two respondents);
  • Lack of instructions or guidance for initiating renewable projects (two respondents);
  • A variety of other barriers mentioned by one respondent each, including:
    • Difficulty coordinating between county and borough councils in two-tier areas
    • Disconnect with climate change programmes and related topics, such as biodiversity
    • Distraction caused by the COVID-19 response
    • High cost of capital expenditure and technology
    • Increased energy bills arising from renewable generation methods
    • Lack of availability of local government-specific carbon reduction modelling tools
    • Lack of direct influence or control over the main sources of emissions
    • Lack of knowledge of available funding
    • Local authority transitions and reorganisations
    • Local barriers to attracting skilled staff
    • Loss of funding resulting from exiting the European Union
    • Multiple steps for corporate sign-off required for new initiatives
    • Need to review and plan assets and resources
    • Poor relationships with pressure groups
    • Requirement to prioritise short-term gain for economic survival
    • Short-term strategic roles within the council

Figure 16 shows the relative frequency of words provided to explain these additional barriers to tackling climate change.

Word cloud showing the relative frequency of words provided by the respondents to specify other barriers to their authority tackling climate change than those provided in the question. The most prominent words included "lack", "climate", "council", "government", "central", "local" and "funding".
Figure 16. To what extent are the following factors a barrier to your authority tackling climate change? - other barrier (please specify)

Further comments

Respondents were asked if there were any further issues relating to their authority’s climate change situation that could be helpful to share. Their comments fell into the following broad patterns:

  • Some respondents mentioned other examples of strategies, partnerships and work that was in progress within their local authority, whilst acknowledging that much work remained to be done;

“We recognize that we are in the relatively initial stages to our commitment regarding climate change and we are currently developing partnerships and initiatives that will make a meaningful difference.”

  • Some provided further examples of ongoing actions to tackle climate change, some of which had been underway for many years;

“The council has consistently been taking action on climate change for decades.”

  • Some commented on the problematic status of much of the information and guidance on the subject of climate change:
    • A lack of clarity on targets and required actions to avoid environmental devastation. One example is the diversity of carbon neutral targets asked for in this survey, and the fact that many of these targets were in fact net zero targets, a distinct concept;
    • Difficulty providing some of the required information about carbon footprints;
    • A lack of capacity or understanding of the key issues among the most influential stakeholders.
  • Some commented about additional issues in relation to the funding of climate change work:
    • An observation that revenue funding for climate change activity is lacking, most of the funding being for capital projects, with funding for ongoing action to combat climate change hard to come by;
    • A noted lack of grants and support beyond early adopters, without sustained funding available for the main body of authorities or those scaling up programmes already trialled.
  • Some provided examples of work areas and issues which tend to distract attention and resources from climate change work:
    • Urgent and acute pressures taking precedence over long-term issues such as climate change;
    • Most prominently, the COVID-19 pandemic and its disruptive effect on climate change activities.
  • Some cited additional difficulties faced by particular types of authorities, including:
    • Those in two-tier systems, owing to the increased difficulty of coordinating services between county and district councils;
    • Those undergoing restructuring or reorganization, as this process diverts resources from other work including climate change;
    • Small authorities, which find it difficult to gather the capacity necessary to make funding bids to scale up their climate change programmes;
    • Rural authorities, due to lack of infrastructure and reliance on private cars for transport.
  • Some referred to issues among their climate change specific staff, including:
    • Lack of staff numbers; difficulty recruiting and retaining staff of the required skills;
    • Having no one member of staff responsible for climate change work, with work of this sort only accounting for a portion of officers’ capacity and often being spread out across individuals and teams;
    • Having some staff focused exclusively on climate change, yet relatively new in their posts and still learning about the field;
    • Low morale among officers responsible for implementing climate change measures, including a feeling that the scale of the problem and the action required to combat it is overwhelming.
  • Some commented on the need for partnerships and initiatives transcending individual local authorities, including:
    • The need to recognize the limited influence and control which local authorities have over some sectors and industries, such as agriculture and aviation, and particularly those which work across local authority boundaries;
    • The need for direction, leadership and instruction from central government and other nationwide and regional agencies;
    • The need for buy-in across wide range of networks and stakeholders to achieve lasting impact;
    • The benefits arising from shared targets and priorities across groups and networks of local authorities;
    • The potential savings to be gained by sharing resources and intelligence across councils;
    • Reports of successful outcomes from regular, focused meetings bringing a wide range of stakeholders together;
  • Some commented about limited instances of public or political opposition to implementing climate change measures:
    • Opposition to on-street charging among some partner organisations;
    • The observation that achieving political support is far easier with regards to some climate change actions than others; climate change actions less likely to be popular among local communities are considerably harder to find approval for.

Annex A: Questionnaire

Please provide or amend your personal details below.

If you wish to respond on behalf of more than one authority, or to provide a retrospective response on behalf of an authority which no longer exists, please contact James Harman at James.Harman@local.gov.uk.

  • Name
  • Job Title
  • Authority
  • Email address

1. To what extent are you aware of the following forms of support around climate change that the LGA provides?

  1. To a great extent
  2. To a moderate extent
  3. To a small extent
  4. Not at all
  • LGA and Local Partnerships Greenhouse Gas Accounting tool (1)
  • The Net Zero Innovation Programme (2)
  • LGA Green Webinars Series eg. biodiversity, energy, community engagement and LGA conference (3)
  • LGA Climate Change E-bulletin (4)
  • The Climate Emergency Knowledge Hub (5)
  • Climate Change Case Studies including the Pass the Planet campaign (6)
  • The LGA Climate Change Webpage Support Hub (7)
  • The Leading and Learning Green Jobs Programme (action learning sets) (8)
  • LGA Climate Change Communications Guide (9)
  • LGA Behaviour Change and the Environment Guide (10)
  • LGA Leadership Essentials: Climate Emergency (11)                      
  • The Design in the Public Sector Programme (12)                      
  • The Centre for Governance and Scrutiny Guidance – 10 questions to scrutinise climate action (13)
  • Local Action for Our Environment podcast (14)
  • The Local Pathway to Net Zero Guidance for Councillors (15)
  • LGA Biodiversity e-learning (20)
  • Access to reduced rate local authority pricing for Aurora Energy Research market forecasts through Local Partnerships (22)
  • Other (please specify below) (16)

2. Overall, how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the support offered through the LGA Climate Change Sector Support Programme?

  • Very satisfied
  • Fairly satisfied
  • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
  • Fairly dissatisfied
  • Very dissatisfied
  • Don't know
  • Not applicable

3. How likely would you be to recommend the LGA Climate Change Sector Support Programme to other councils?

  • Very likely
  • Fairly likely
  • Not very likely
  • Not at all likely
  • Don't know

4. To what extent, if at all, do you think that the climate change support your authority has received from the LGA has had a positive impact on your council?

  • To a great extent
  • To a moderate extent
  • To a small extent
  • Not at all
  • Don't know
  • Not applicable

5. In what areas, if any, could your authority benefit from expertise, skills and support delivered by the LGA?

Please select all that apply. This question includes both types of climate change action the LGA may be able to support you with, and specific types of support the LGA may be able to offer you.

  • Low carbon procurement (1)
  • Energy support, including renewable energy and local area energy planning (2)
  • Electric vehicle charging infrastructure (32)
  • Energy efficient building measures (33)
  • Green economic planning (4)
  • Communications on climate change (5)
  • Educating the public/changing public behaviour (6)
  • Biodiversity (18)
  • Adaptation to changing climates (30)
  • Sustainable urban/town/rural planning (7)
  • Sustainable transport planning (8)
  • Carbon auditing (9)
  • Carbon budgeting (10)
  • Embedding carbon considerations into decision-making (11)
  • Climate justice (12)
  • Other area(s) of climate action (please specify) (13)
  • Good practice and case studies (19)
  • Sector specific good practice guidance on scope 3 emissions (20)
  • Peer benchmarking (21)
  • Bespoke council peer support (22)
  • Leadership programmes (23)
  • Action learning sets (24)
  • Podcasts (25)
  • Climate change workshops and events (26)
  • Other expertise of method(s) of support (please specify below) (27)
  • None of the above (28)

6. What would you say are the main challenges to securing the needed expertise and skills in climate change work?

Please select all that apply.

  • Short-term funding necessitating 12-month contracts (1)
  • Inability to compete with other employers in terms of salaries (2)
  • Difficulty finding candidates with the required skills (3)
  • Difficulty upskilling current staff capacity (4)
  • Uncertainty as to which areas in need of further development should be prioritised (6)
  • Uncertainty as to what expertise and skills should be prioritised (5)
  • Other (please specify below) (7)

7. Is your authority currently measuring, or not measuring, the carbon emissions of the following?

You can find more information on the difference between scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions here.

  1. Yes, already measured
  2. No, but plans to measure in development
  3. No, and no current plans to develop measures yet
  4. Don't know
  • Your authority - scope 1 and 2 (1)                                        
  • Your authority - scope 3 (2)                                        
  • Your authority's local area - scope 1 and 2 (3)                                
  • Your authority's local area - scope 3 (4)                                

8. In which financial years were the latest carbon emissions measured?

  • 2017/17 or earlier (1)
  • 2018/19 (2)
  • 2019/20 (3)
  • 2020/21 (4)
  • 2021/22 (5)                       

9. Which method or tool did you use to arrive at your authority's latest carbon emissions?

  • LGA and Local Partnerships Greenhouse Gas Accounting Tool  (1)
  • Your own council’s tool  (2)
  • External consultancy  (4)
  • Other (please specify below)  (3)

10. Which method or tool did you use to arrive at your area's latest carbon emissions?

  • SCATTER tool  (1)
  • BEIS National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory  (5)
  • Your own council’s tool  (2)
  • External consultancy  (4)
  • Other (please specify below)  (3)

11. Please provide the latest carbon emissions measured, if they are available.

Please use units of tonnes of CO2 per year.

  • Your authority - scope 1 and 2  (1) 
  • Your authority - scope 3  (2) 
  • Your authority's local area - scope 1 and 2  (3) 
  • Your authority's local area - scope 3  (4) 

12. How often does your authority publish its carbon baseline?

  • More often than annually
  • Annually
  • Less often than annually
  • Never
  • Don't know

13. Has your authority set an official target for becoming carbon neutral?

Please select all that apply.

  • Yes, for the authority itself
  • Yes, for the area as a whole
  • No
  • Don't know

14. Does your authority's target include scope 3 emissions, or just scope 1 and 2 emissions?   

You can find more information on the difference between scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions here. If this information is too difficult to provide, please feel free to leave this question blank.

  • Includes scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions (1)
  • Scope 1 and 2 emissions only (2)
  • Other (please specify below) (3)
  • Don't know (4)

15. Does your area's target include scope 3 emissions, or just scope 1 and 2 emissions? 

You can find more information on the difference between scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions here. If this information is too difficult to provide, please feel free to leave this question blank.

  • Includes scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions (1)
  • Scope 1 and 2 emissions only (2)
  • Other (please specify below) (3) 
  • Don't know (4)

16. Please specify the date by which your authority is targeted to become carbon neutral.

17. Please specify the date by which your authority's area is targeted to become carbon neutral.

18. Is there an executive council member of your authority whose portfolio specifies a lead role on climate change?

  • Yes (1)
  • No (2)
  • Don't know  (3)

19. Does your authority have an agreed and up to date climate change strategy?

  • Yes, already being delivered (1)
  • Yes, completed but not yet being delivered (3)
  • No, but currently in development (4)
  • No, but planning to produce one (5)
  • No, and no current plans to produce one yet (6)
  • Don't know (7)

20. Does or will the climate change strategy cover climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, or both?

  • Both mitigation and adaptation (1)
  • Mitigation only (2)
  • Adaptation only (3)
  • Don't know (4)

21. Does your authority have specific financial and/or staffing resources that have already been secured to implement the strategy?

  • Yes, all of the resources required to implement it (1)
  • Yes, some of the resources required to implement it (5)
  • No (2)
  • Don't know (3)

22. Please provide an approximate percentage breakdown of the sources providing the funding already secured to implement your authority's strategy.

Please ensure the total adds up to 100 per cent.

  • Government grants : _______  (1)
  • Core funding : _______  (2)
  • Reserves : _______  (3)
  • Private investment : _______  (4)
  • Loans : _______  (5)
  • Crowdsourcing : _______  (6)
  • Other funding sources : _______  (7)
  • Total : ________

23. In which financial year will the funding already secured for the strategy first be provided?

  • Already in place as of 2021/22 (1)
  • 2022/23 (2)
  • Beyond 2022/23 (3)
  • Don't know (5)
  1. Mitigation (1)                                         
  2. Adaptation (2)                                       

24. Please estimate the approximate amount of funding already secured to implement the strategy in the following periods.

In each of the periods, please provide the funding secured per year within that period. If this information is too difficult to provide, please feel free to leave this question blank.

  • Already in place as of 2021/22 (1)
  • 2022/23 (2)
  • Beyond 2022/23 (3)
  • Total funding (1)                    

25. Please estimate the approximate amount of additional funding (i.e. not including funding already secured) that will be required to implement climate change measures over the following time periods.

Please make your estimates cumulative (e.g. funding required for the next five years is included within funding required for the next ten years). Please provide the total amount required, not the amount required per year. If this information is too difficult to provide, please feel free to leave all or part of this question blank.

  • The next five financial years (1)
  • The next ten financial years (2)
  • The next fifteen financial years (3)
  • The next twenty financial years (4)
  • Additional funding required (1)                           

26. Does your authority have a communications plan for climate change?

  • Yes, being delivered  (1)
  • Yes, completed but not yet being delivered  (3)
  • No, but in development  (4)
  • No, but planning to produce one  (6)
  • No, and no current plans to produce one yet  (7)
  • Don't know  (8)

27. Please specify the principal aims of your authority's communications plan.

Please select all that apply.

  • To influence behaviour change among residents  (1)
  • To influence behaviour change among local businesses  (9)
  • To influence behaviour change among staff  (2)
  • To showcase the authority's climate change actions  (3)
  • To increase awareness of local climate change support schemes  (4)
  • To increase awareness of national climate change support schemes  (5)
  • To transmit information on climate change beyond the authority  (6)
  • To solicit information on climate change within the authority  (7)
  • Other (please specify below)  (8)

28. Which of the following communications activities are you undertaking or planning to undertake around climate change?

Please select all that apply.

  • Website messaging  (1)
  • Surveys  (8)
  • Blog activity  (2)
  • Local events  (3)
  • Parish and town council engagement  (4)
  • Social media activity  (9)
  • Citizens and/or youth assemblies or juries  (5)
  • Other (please specify below)  (6) 
  • None of the above  (7)

29. Which, if any, of the following climate change mitigation project areas has your authority delivered in the last ten years, is delivering currently, or has plans to deliver in future?

You may select more than one response for each project area.

  • Have previously delivered in the last ten years (1)
  • Delivering currently (2)
  • Plan to deliver in the next two years (3)
  • Plan to deliver in the longer term (4)
  • Have not delivered and have no current plans to deliver yet (5)
  • Don't know (6)
  1. Wind energy (1)                                                         
  2. Ground source heat pumps (2)                                                       
  3. Small-scale solar photovoltaic installations (less than 1MW) (3) 
  4. Large-scale solar photovoltaic installations (1MW or greater) (19) 
  5. Solar water heating (4)                                                         
  6. Energy from waste (5)                                                          
  7. Combined heat and power (excluding waste schemes) (6)     
  8. Energy from biomass (7)                                                      
  9. Biofuels or biogas (8)                                                           
  10. Installation of energy saving measures in the council's own building stock (9)    
  11. Installation of energy saving measures in community buildings (10)
  12. Increasing bus routes (11)
  13. Introducing hybrid or electric buses on bus routes (12)
  14. Electric charging points (13)
  15. Communications campaigns around climate change mitigation (14)
  16. Divestment from companies posing an environmental risk, for example oil companies, in your authorities assets and pension scheme (15)
  17. Other climate change mitigation project 1 (please specify) (16) 
  18. Other climate change mitigation project 2 (please specify) (17)              
  19. Other climate change mitigation project 3 (please specify) (18)  

30. Has your authority's local area been affected by a climate related incident in the last five years?

  • Yes (1)
  • No (2)
  • Don't know (3)

31. Please briefly describe the nature and consequences of the climate related incident(s).

32. To what extent does your local authority have climate related risks embedded in your corporate risk register?

  • To a great extent  (1)
  • To a moderate extent  (2)
  • To a small extent  (3)
  • Not at all  (4)
  • Don't know  (5)

33. Which, if any, of the following climate change adaptation project areas has your authority delivered in the last ten years, is delivering currently, or has plans to deliver in the next ten years?

You may select more than one response for each project area.

  • Have previously delivered in the last ten years (1)
  • Delivering currently (2)
  • Plan to deliver in the next two years (3)
  • Plan to deliver in the longer term (4)
  • Have not delivered and have no current plans to deliver yet (5)
  • Don't know (6)
  1. Flood awareness campaigns for residents (1)                                  
  2. Heat wave awareness campaigns for residents (2)                  
  3. Contingency plans for vulnerable people in heat waves, flooding etc. (3)
  4. Contingency plans for the wider community in heat waves, flooding etc. (4)
  5. Minimum flood resilience criteria for new developments in flood-risk areas (5) 
  6. Future proofing new buildings against climate change (6)                
  7. Retrofitting existing buildings against climate change (13)    
  8. Sustainable urban drainage (7)             
  9. Installation of flood defences (8)     
  10. Wildlife protection and biodiversity (9)    
  11. Other climate change adaption project 1 (please specify) (10)           
  12. Other climate change adaption project 2 (please specify) (11) 
  13. Other climate change adaption project 3 (please specify) (12) 

34. Does your authority have partnerships in place, or have plans to put partnerships in place, with any of the following bodies to reduce carbon emissions?

Please select all that apply.

  • Partnership in place (1)
  • Partnership planned in future (2)
  • No planned partnership currently (3)
  • Don't know or not applicable (4)
  1. Other local authorities (1)                                
  2. NHS bodies (2)                                     
  3. Local residents or residents' groups (3)                                
  4. Private landlords (4)                                        
  5. Registered social landlords (5)                                   
  6. Local Partnerships (6)                                     
  7. Carbon Trust (CT) (7)                                      
  8. Energy Saving Trust Advice Centre (8)                                 
  9. Energy suppliers (9)                                        
  10. Energy generators (10)                                    
  11. Commercial consultancies (11)                                  
  12. Anthesis (SCATTER) (12)                                
  13. Schools (16)                               
  14. Further education providers (18)                                
  15. Universities (19)                                    
  16. Local/regional energy efficiency agencies (13)                                
  17. Local energy hubs (17)                                    
  18. Other local partners/community groups (14)                                   
  19. Other organisations (please specify) (15)                                        

35. To what extent are the following factors a barrier to your authority tackling climate change?

  • To a great extent (1)
  • To a moderate extent (2)
  • To a small extent (3)    
  • Not at all (4) 
  • Don't know (5)
  1. Amount of funding (1)       
  2. Accessibility of funding (10)              
  3. Reliability of funding (12) 
  4. Conditions of funding (11)    
  5. Legislation or regulation (please specify) (2)                         
  6. Skills and expertise available internally (3)                     
  7. Skills and expertise available in the market (13)              
  8. Lack of workforce capacity (9)       
  9. Lack of public support (4) 
  10. Lack of political support from the council (5)              
  11. Other barrier 1 (please specify) (6)       
  12. Other barrier 2 (please specify) (7)          
  13. Other barrier 3 (please specify) (8) 

36. Are there any further issues relating to your authority's climate situation that could be helpful to share?

37. Finally, has your council done anything interesting or notable in relation to climate change that you would like to share with other authorities? 

The LGA is showcasing councils' excellent work. If you would like to contribute or if you are doing something innovative locally that you would like to share, please fill out this case study form or contact climate@local.gov.uk. You can view all our climate change case studies via our website.

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