We have been scouring council websites to find out the latest on their climate action plans. One thing is very clear: not many councils have really got their act together yet in communicating what they are doing on the climate.  Yet this is crucial if councils are to play the leadership role they aspire to in catalysing wider climate action.  This blog by Sally Barnard summarises the state of play, highlighting who is out in front in the climate communications stakes.

Getting climate on the Homepage

As we’ve been trawling council websites for climate information it was striking how few councils have any mention of the climate emergency on their homepage. Covid, on the other hand, features in large print (and sometimes flashing lights) on every one.

Only 13 out of 56 councils in the South East mention climate on their homepage, although for some you have to look quite hard!  Here’s a list of those that did:

  • Ashford
  • Brighton and Hove
  • Crawley
  • Eastleigh
  • East Sussex CC
  • Horsham
  • Mole Valley
  • Southampton
  • Test Valley
  • Thanet
  • Wealden
  • Winchester
  • Woking

That means 43 councils have nothing on their home page, even some of those with ambitious climate action plans.

Here is an example from Wealden District Council where a simple but prominent ‘Climate Emergency’ box stands out on the homepage and takes you to an array of resources about what the council is doing and ‘what can I do’ as a resident.

Using the search facility to search for ‘climate’ on council websites gives a slightly better picture. 68% of councils have a page with some information on climate change. However this is quite variable and it is still clear that for many councils their communication on climate change lags behind their action plans.

And the winner is ….

Overall, the SECA prize for websites goes to Eastleigh Borough Council.  As well as having easy access from the home page it has a fantastic ‘What you can do’ section with particularly thorough and meaningful resources for people to help themselves, including home produced videos.

Here are some other councils that deserve a mention for having informative climate information sections on their websites (though in some cases you have to search to find them):

Could do better – a call for action

Council communications teams have done a fantastic job in responding to the Covid emergency with information and advice. Now is the time, with climate action plans coming into play, for the climate and biodiversity emergencies to feature in an equally prominent way, with readily accessible information on what the council is doing, what residents can do and where they can find community groups and projects to join.

Sally Barnard is part of the team that keeping tabs on council websites in order to update the SECA Survey of climate emergency action plans.

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