COUNCIL chiefs have defended efforts to tackle climate change after claims their plans were lacking.
Data collection organisation Climate Emergency UK (CE UK) – which collects and publishes information on councils’ actions to help them work together – has released findings comparing local authorities after assessing climate actions plans published by councils before September 20 last year.
And Warwickshire County Council (WCC) scored 25 per cent in its assessment – a scorecard system which asks 28 questions – compared to an average of 40 per cent for county councils.
Assessment criteria includes whether climate actions were costed, assigned to specific teams, had a clear goal and whether residents were being engaged, among other points.
In response, the council argued so far its actions to decarbonise its estate included replacing gas boilers with electric systems, installing solar PV systems, improving insulation and the increased use of electric vehicles.
It said as a result, although not without some influence from the pandemic, its total emissions fell by 31 per cent the previous year, due to emissions falling across areas such as heating and transport.
Projects to encourage carbon reduction across the county include the Solar Together scheme – a shared buying scheme for residents to purchase renewable energy and battery storage, advice for businesses and its Green Shoots Community Climate Change Fund which funds sustainable community projects.
And following a report on the impacts and potential effects of climate change in Warwickshire, a further strategy and action plan will be developed in the coming months along with a regional climate summit in March.
WCC environment spokeswoman Heather Timms pointed to the recent West Midland’s Local Authority Sustainability Benchmark report which rated WCC as showing leadership and good practice in areas including household recycling and sustainable energy.
She said: “The results of both reports show that we have made a very significant start to reducing our carbon emissions but there is always more to be done and climate change is not something one organisation can tackle alone.
“Our focus is on working together with our district and borough council partners, as well as our town and parish councils, community and voluntary groups, to find effective and sustainable solutions that work across the county. Our ambition remains to lead Warwickshire as a county to be net zero by 2050 at the latest.”
CE UK did stress it had only assessed the plans rather than actions councils were taking to tackle climate change.
Spokesman Isaac Beevor said: “Councils may be doing good things which aren’t reflected in their Action Plan. That is why next year we will be assessing all councils on what they are actually doing.
“This year’s scorecards are just the start of the process. It has been an important exercise to understand what makes a good council Climate Action Plan and we hope that it will help councils learn from each other and up their game. A good plan will help a local authority deliver effective actions, as well as enabling local residents to know what their council has committed to and so hold the council to account.”
He added CE UK understood strapped councils needed support from the Government but its research had shown costed, ambitious plans were still possible.