Scorecards are back, better than ever

Work for the 2025 Council Climate Action Scorecards has already begun. To help make sure the next round have an even bigger impact than the last, I’ve been attending Advisory Group roundtables, hosted by Climate Emergency UK, alongside policy experts, council leaders and climate officers. Together, we’ve been going through the methodology with a fine-tooth comb. 

What are the Scorecards?

The Council Climate Action Scorecards project evaluates the climate actions of all UK local councils, serving as both a benchmark and a motivational tool. The project highlights councils’ efforts in seven sections:

  • buildings and heating
  • transport 
  • planning and land use 
  • governance and finance
  • biodiversity
  • collaboration and engagement
  • food and  waste

By offering a clear, comparable picture of each council’s performance, the Scorecards help hold councils accountable, increase transparency, and encourage continuous improvement. They are designed and delivered by CE UK, with technical and policy support from mySociety. 

How much change is too much change?

Why are we changing the methodology? You might be thinking, if it works, why fix it? The updates are driven by a desire for the project to respond to the evolving policy landscape and feedback from stakeholders.  That said, we’re trying to strike the right balance between introducing necessary changes to keep the Scorecards accurate and relevant, but not so many that we lose the ability to compare to the previous Scorecards. 

The wisdom of the advisory group has been essential in striking this balance, as we were able to hear directly from elected councillors and council employees about their priorities and pain points.

So what’s changed? 

The reasons that questions have been tweaked, reweighted or removed are many and varied – and actually offer quite an interesting perspective on how the sector is changing. To see the detailed breakdown, check out the new methodology page on the Scorecards website. Here are the headlines:

  • There’ve been 13 changes to question criteria — but no one section has had more than three criteria changed. This was often to add an additional tier allowing for higher marks: for example, Question 4.3b, about reduction in emissions since 2019, will now have an additional point available for councils whose reductions have exceeded 40%.
  • There are five questions which have new weighting, based on sector feedback. For example, Question 2.9, on whether a council has a workplace parking levy, has been downgraded to ‘medium’. 
  • There are three brand new questions to reflect areas of emerging policy interest, such as a new question on engagement with trade unions or other employee representative bodies.
  • Three existing questions have been changed  in response to sector feedback, for example Question 4.2 now focuses on a council’s corporate risk register rather than a standalone climate change risk register.
  • One question (7.1a) has been removed to reflect a change in government policy on single use plastics, making it a legal requirement of all local authorities to reduce their single use plastic usage.

What impact will this have on scores?

An initial trial scoring  with a sample of councils using 2023 data showed slight decreases in scores, but only by an average of 2%. This trial scoring was done using a ‘worst case scenario’ assumption of councils scoring none of the new points available. This was discussed by the Advisory Group, and it was agreed that this level of change was small enough to remain confident that the Scorecards could be meaningfully compared.

Reflections on the roundtables 

In total I attended four meetings of the Advisory Group.

In each meeting we broke out into small groups to go through each question line by line, then discussed each groups’ feedback. The CE UK team then went away to draw conclusions, which were brought back to the next meeting and agreed. 

In the initial discussions there was some disagreement, as you might expect from a group of people coming from different perspectives and wanting different things from the Scorecards; however, the tone and conduct was always upbeat and working towards a solution. 

We ended the final meeting with agreement across the board on all changes. Overall, the changes that have come out of the methodology review process reflect a commendable ambition for collaborative and continuous improvement — and to make real change at the local level.

Photo by Winston Tjia on Unsplash