At the end of November, we were delighted to be joined by over 80 people at our webinar about making local climate data more useful. The recording is now available on YouTube, but we also wanted to capture the key messages from our speakers.
- A collaborative (but required) data standard to agree the data and format that is expected.
- An online central repository of the location of the published data, so that data users can find it easily.
- Support from the data convener to make publication simple and effective.
Alex Parsons, mySociety’s Senior Researcher, gave the example of trying to build a comprehensive database of council home EPC standards. This data is already published by all local authorities, but because it is published in a variety of formats and locations, it can’t be easily joined up. This data was compiled by volunteers through FOI requests (in order to get standard formats) for the 2023 Council Climate Action Scorecards, and the results were covered in the Financial Times. It was not ‘new’ data, it was just the first time it had been collated and compared.
Eoin Devane from the Climate Change Committee stressed that data is essential for their work, and that their recent reports highlight the many data gaps that still exist in assessing the UK’s progress towards our 2050 net zero target. Contextualising the need for this data, Eoin also pointed to the CCC’s calls for more clarity on the role of local government, and on bodies like the Local Net Zero Forum.
Julia Cushion. This then led onto my section, highlighting the types of climate data we need, which we have covered in a previous blog post. I also spoke about the supporting factors for these:
- Echoing Eoin, more clarity from on the powers of local government for net zero delivery. This is also a key ask of the Blueprint Coalition
- More transparency around the Local Net Zero Forum and how this acts as a connection between national and local government
- Greater coherence around the role of Oflog, especially how they prioritise their metrics
- More involvement from the Central Digital and Data Office, who could play an important convening role
Next, we had our first councillor – Joe Porter, District Councillor for Brown Edge and Endon – who emphasised the importance of local councils as key players in climate action. Reflecting on Staffordshire Moorlands’ efforts, he discussed their annual Climate Change Report, emphasising the significance of monitoring progress, engaging with communities, and setting ambitious targets for carbon neutrality and nature restoration.
Minesh Parekh, a Labour and Cooperative councillor from Sheffield, echoed the sentiments on the imperative need for councils to lead in addressing the climate crisis. He emphasised the criticality of data in guiding decision-making at the local level. Minesh pointed out the disparity in information available to local councils compared to Members of Parliament, stressing the need for more localised data and resources to support informed decision-making on climate initiatives.
We rounded off the hour with a quick Q&A, which brought out the importance of sharing best practices, expertise, and data among councils through platforms like the Environmental Data Network. The councillors highlighted the significance of collaboration and the exchange of information to address challenges, bridge data gaps, and achieve more substantial climate action goals.
Thanks to those who joined us, and we hope to see you at a future event soon. To stay updated on our climate programme, you can sign up to our newsletter.