Resources for Councils

Which Councils have declared

Which councils have declared so far?

According to the Climate Emergency UK website, over 200 councils in the UK have so far taken the step to declare a climate emergency. This is happening quickly; all have declared since November 2018.  Councils of all political persuasions have got on board with this idea, and in many cases the motion to declare an emergency has been passed unanimously, demonstrating the degree of cross-party agreement on the issue.  Click on the map to find out more.

Here in the South East, councils are also responding.  More and more councils are debating climate motions and pledging to step up climate action.  More than two thirds of the primary and secondary councils have now either declared a climate emergency, or passed a motion in direct response to the climate emergency.

Progress checklist

Here is a progress checklist showing which councils in the South East have declared a climate emergency (in green), or passed a climate motion (in yellow).  Those where campaigns are underway are coloured blue.

What happens next?

Declaring an emergency is an important first step.  But how does a council turn that declaration into meaningful action at a scale that makes a difference? What will they do differently?  Without specific follow-up steps, a declaration risks being little more than window dressing.  Most have approached this through a combination of setting targets and agreeing concrete actions:

Setting targetsmost councils that have declared a climate emergency have set themselves targets to meet zero emissions at an earlier date than is required under national legislation – for example, zero emissions by 2030, rather than the 2050 target set out in the 2008 Climate Change Act (this was amended in June 2019 from a 80% to a 100% reduction by 2050). Definitions of what is meant by ‘net zero emissions’ or being ‘carbon neutral’ also vary somewhat between councils – precision is important here in making targets meaningful.

Investigative period – to provide time to think through the options and their implications, some councils are setting in motion an investigative period, with council officers being instructed to report back in 6 months with an action plan on how this could be achieved

Specific actions – many council motions cite specific actions for the council to take. These steps are cited in Lancaster’s motion, for example:

  • increasing the energy efficiency of buildings
  • prioritising these measures for council housing and private sector housing to address fuel poverty
  • building solar and other renewable energy generating and storage plant
  • requiring all new housing and commercial developments to be low carbon
  • replacing the vehicle fleet with electric and/or hydrogen powered vehicles
  • switching to 100% renewable energy
  • setting up a council run energy company (eg. Robin Hood Energy)
  • adapting the Council’s purchasing policy

Supportive measures – to bolster their efforts, some councils are setting up a Climate Change Advisory Board (eg Lancaster), holding Citizens Assemblies (eg Totnes), or appointing a Sustainability Officer (eg Scarborough), to help inform and support their choices.

Appealing to central government – most council motions call on the government and other relevant councils above them to provide the powers and resources to make the earlier target possible.

Examples of motions that have already been approved:

Here are links to the text of the emergency motions from a cross-section of councils:

Useful resources:

Let us know an any other useful resources you come across. Just email us at:

Climate emergency conference

A special Climate & Environmental Emergency Conference was held in Lancaster on March 29th 2019, bringing together local council members, council officials and campaigners.  It includes workshops on a range of topics including local planning, engaging business, and the ‘New Green Deal’. Click here for a report on the conference by Geoff Barnard, who attended on behalf of SECA.

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