At a glance

Institution: 
Partners: 
Democratic Society, Shared Future, UK100, Climate Outreach
Duration: 
November 2021 - November 2023
Project Type: 

Avoiding the worst effects of climate change will be the biggest challenge in human history. Local authorities and partnerships will play a key role both in getting the UK to net zero and ensuring their areas are ready for changing conditions. To do this in a way that is effective and fair, they will need to engage the public. That’s why we and others developed Local Climate Engagement (LCE) - a new programme that uses a combination of training, mentoring, peer-learning and hands-on support to assist local authorities in engaging their local communities. 

Who will we be working with on this programme?

The LCE Programme will work with local authorities from across England and the political spectrum to deliver high-quality public engagement projects on climate policy. 

The Project Group

We will be delivering training, in depth project support and providing peer learning sessions for the following areas who are part of the Project Group:

  • Derbyshire County Council
  • Warwick District Council & Stratford District Council
  • Essex County Council
  • Lancaster City Council
  • Sunderland City Council

The Coaching Group

We will be delivering training, mentoring, and providing peer learning sessions for the following 16 Local Authorities who are part of the Coaching Group:

  • Stevenage Borough Council
  • South Tyneside
  • Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Rochdale Borough Council
  • Liverpool City Council
  • West Berkshire District Council
  • Brighton and Hove City Council
  • Winchester City Council
  • Reigate and Banstead Borough Council
  • West Midlands Combined Authority
  • Kensington and Chelsea
  • Hebden Royd Town Council and Todmorden Town Council
  • Kirklees Council
  • Sheffield City Council
  • East Riding of Yorkshire
  • Reading

These local authorities were selected from the 75 applications we received for the 21 spaces available with interest from every region of England.

Initial analysis of the 75 applications we received shows an excellent spread across regions, geographies, the political spectrum and types of local authority. Here is a flavour of the mix of Expressions of Interests we received:

  • Political Administration: 33% Conservative led councils, 41.3% Labour led and 12% were Coalition led
  • Region: The highest number of EOIs were received from the South East & North West; then Yorkshire; South West & West Midlands and the other regions.
  • Make up of rural/urban/mixed areas: 37% Rural; 41% Urban & 22% Mixed

These applications demonstrated a strong cross-party desire for a community-backed transition and the understanding that we can’t achieve Net Zero without public involvement in climate decision-making. Our Local Climate Engagement Programme will help support Local Authorities to do just that.

The National Advisory Group

The Programme has a National Advisory Group that will meet 6 times between March 2022 - March 2023 to offer advice and guidance to the Programme. The National Advisory Group members include:

  • Rebecca Willis, Lancaster University - Chair of the National Advisory Group
  • Alice Owen, Place Based Climate Action Network
  • Bonny Ibhawoh, Participedia Project Direcror 
  • Ewa Kmietowicz, Climate Change Committee
  • Isobel Wade, Greater Cambridge Partnership 
  • Jess Studdert, New Local
  • Judy Ling Wong, Founder of Black Environment Network (Twitter: @ling_judy)
  • Louise Marix Evans, Director of Quantum Strategy & Technology (LinkedIn & Twitter: @QuantumStraTech) 
  • Martin Hunt, Forum for the Future (LinkedIn)
  • Paul Anderson, Voyage Youth
  • Tanya Pascual, Hertfordshire County Council (LinkedIn )

Evaluating Local Climate Engagement

To assess the impact of the programme and capture learnings on the process, the Local Climate Engagement partners are looking for an independent evaluator and inviting proposals that respond to these terms of reference. We expect the independent evaluator to work with us to assess the extent and ways in which The Programme's objectives and outcomes have been met. The learning from this evaluation will inform development of wider activity in Local Authority engagement on climate change, locally and nationally and at times internationally. 

Please read the LCE Evaluation Terms of Reference and submit your tender before 5pm on Friday 27th May 2022. 

What role do local authorities have in tackling climate change?

The importance of local authorities’ role in tackling climate change is unarguable. Research produced for the Climate Change Committee shows that one-third of all UK greenhouse gas emissions are dependent on sectors influenced by local government policies or partnerships. Local authorities across the country have already shown bold leadership by setting Net Zero targets that are years ahead of national legislation.

The public too see local authority action as vital. Ipsos Mori polling commissioned by UK100 found that 40% of people believe that their local council is best placed to tackle climate change in their local area, compared to 30% for the Government and 19% for the individual. Climate Assembly UK members also backed locally-determined strategies, to allow for solutions better-suited to local communities.

Why should local authorities engage the public in climate decision-making?

As their work on climate change grows, many local authorities have moved beyond traditional consultation methods to engage their local populations. Up and down the UK, we now see local authorities using a diverse range of techniques, from citizens’ juries and assemblies, to crowdsourcing and community conversations.

Engaging the public in their climate decision-making in these ways enables local authorities to build a deeper understanding of local preferences, aspirations and needs. This supports the development of policy that is more likely to achieve public buy-in. It also allows local authorities to reach beyond those they most often hear from. This builds trust and is a key step in achieving a fair transition to Net Zero.

For local authorities, engaging the public in climate decision-making is not, however, without risks.  For example, commissioning public engagement before there is clarity of focus and a plan for how it will feed into decision-making can limit its impact at best and frustrate communities at its worst. Local Climate Engagement (LCE) aims to help tackle these and other challenges, and to support robust engagement plans.

How will taking part in LCE help?

LCE will enable local authorities and partnerships to plan, commission and deliver high quality public engagement in their climate decision-making, in a way that benefits both them and their local population. Developed by Involve and four partner organisations - Democratic Society, Shared Future, UK100 and Climate Outreach - this programme provides local authorities with a package of training, mentoring and hands-on support.

This programme is funded by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK branch) and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Finding out more

If you are interested to find out more about this programme, please see the programme prospectus and FAQs below. For any further questions, please contact dominic@involve.org.uk.