1. What happened to all the APPGs?

    Over Easter, some groups went missing in Parliament.

    No, not lost tourists: of the 722 All Party Parliamentary Groups registered in March, only 444 are left – a 39% decrease in the space of a month. What caused this, which groups have been removed, and what happens next?

    Tl;dr: we’ve published the changes as a spreadsheet.

    What is an APPG?

    All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are self-selecting groups of MPs and Lords with an interest in a particular policy area. Browsing the list might help you find out that you have more in common with MPs than you think; subject-based APPGs include Craft, Jazz, and Parkrun, and country APPGs range from Albania to Zimbabwe. Most groups are supported by a secretariat, which is usually a charity, membership body or consultancy organisation.

    The logic behind APPGs is to create legitimate avenues for experts and interested parties from outside Parliament to discuss policy with MPs – but unfortunately they can also be vehicles for corruption. As  Transparency International argue: “While APPGs can help inform debate, time and time again we see examples of MPs and Peers exercising poor judgement by accepting all-expenses-paid trips from regimes with highly questionable records on corruption and human rights.”

    Why were so many groups removed?

    New rules came into place on 31st March 2024 that required:

    • Increased financial reporting 
    • A ban on funding from foreign governments
    • Increased reporting on secretariat support 
    • A minimum of 20 members 
    • Exactly four officers, two of whom must be MPs

    How did the Register change?

    Parliament maintains the Register of all APPGs that gets updated approximately every six weeks. The last edition before the rule change, published on 6th March 2024, showed 722 groups in total – 130 country groups and 592 subject groups. The 8th April edition shows 444 in total – 74 country groups and 370 subject groups. In total, 39% (278) groups were removed, with the countries list shrinking by 43% and the subjects list by 38%.

    Why does this matter?

    We don’t know exactly why each group was removed from the register. In some cases they simply may not meet the new 20 member threshold, but in others, deregistering might be an attempt to evade scrutiny.

    Deregistered “unofficial” groups can operate in very similar ways to registered APPGs (and there is some evidence they are already doing so) but will not have to abide by the same rules. This means that the only way to track the activities and spending of these groups, and the outside interests that fund them, is through individual Members’ Registers of Financial Interests. Parliament’s rules are clear that MPs are supposed to declare all benefits received through group membership (whether or not a group is an official APPG) but in practice this can be inconsistent.

    Which groups were removed?

    We’ve published the full list of groups from the last two registers, the changes, and the list of removed groups as a spreadsheet.

    What next?

    TheyWorkForYou has a long history of making MPs financial interests data easier to access and understand. We make it easier to see changes in MPs’ declarations over time and are now publishing this information as a big spreadsheet

    We have a lot more work in the pipeline around both APPG data and Register of Members Financial Interests data (stay tuned for details in our newsletter).

    If you think what we’ve done so far is valuable, and want to help us go further: please donate

    Photo by Zetong Li on Unsplash

  2. “Don’t be afraid to copy” and four more highlights from the Scorecards Successes Conference

    To reach the UK’s 2050 net zero target, all local authorities need to take serious action across all of their operations. But what exactly should they do, and in what order?

    To get the most out of the brilliant data uncovered by the Council Climate Action Scorecards, Climate Emergency UK commissioned Anthesis to research and write a report digging into the characteristics that were associated with high marks. This allows campaigners and officers alike to go to their councils and say: “Start here. These are the most effective actions to drive up our scores, and reduce our carbon footprint.”

    The Scorecards Successes report is available to read now, and it was an absolute pleasure to join councillors, campaigners and others in the climate sector yesterday for a really encouraging conference to celebrate its launch.

    Here are five things I took away:

    1. Good governance generates great scores

    As you can see from the table above, appointing a climate portfolio holder is the most impactful characteristic for high scores in the Council Climate Action Scorecards. I loved the way Matt Babic from Anthesis (authors of the report) described effective governance as a T-shape, with the downstroke representing depth of knowledge within a climate team, and the across stroke representing good communication and distribution of responsibility across the council as a whole. For campaigners out there, this might be a good way to start a conversation with your local council  — how effective  is your council’s climate ‘T’ in depth and breadth? 

    2. Funding reform is vital

    The report recognises that since 2019, councils have spent more than £130 million applying for short term competitive funded pots; time and money that is wasted if they are unsuccessful. This came up time and again throughout the day, and there was consensus across the room. In order for councils to be able to deliver at the pace and scale necessary, national government needs to unlock these barriers to funding and enable clearer, simpler financial mechanisms, which must also facilitate necessary private sector investment. 

    3. Devolution deals need simplifying if they’re going to support better climate action

    One surprising finding from the report is that authorities that are members of Combined Authorities score lower on the whole than those that are not. This paints a mixed picture for the successes of devolution deals in delivering across their constituent councils. In the final panel of the day, Sandra Bell from Friends of the Earth and co-chair of the Blueprint Coalition, gave some excellent food for thought about the future of devolution deals across the UK. The UK government has promised devolution deals “everywhere” by 2030, which is also the date by which many UK councils have committed to reach net zero. We still lack clarity on the exact form and shape of the deals yet to come, and with a very mixed picture of multiple types and styles of devolution settlements currently in operation, the Blueprint Coalition are calling for clarity, simplicity and scaled up funding to help this new layer of governance really deliver. 

    4. Transparency and public engagement aren’t the same thing, but they’re both needed 

    At mySociety, we care a lot about transparency, and we’re always asking for better data publication to enable it. Better data publication from local authorities would enable us to make useful climate data more accessible to those who want to dig into it. But publishing data and engaging the public aren’t entirely the same thing. In addition to transparency, councils should be actively delivering public engagement exercises that tackle  the more holistic questions and future decision-making, about how to make the road to net zero a fair one. It was great to hear Cllr Anna Railton talk about Oxford City Council’s residents panel – a great forum for these conversations, and markedly cheaper than a citizens’ assembly. Transparency and public engagement are related, but not the same, and we need both.

    5. “Don’t be afraid to copy”

    Rob Robinson from Kent County Council made the point that I think underpins a lot of why we think the Scorecards are so helpful. Every council in the UK is working towards net zero, be that to their own target or the UK’s 2050 target, but they don’t have to do it alone. In every section there are high scoring councils, and the evidence of the brilliant policies they’ve implemented are easily discoverable on the site. Let’s not reinvent the wheel: this isn’t an exam, as Rob says —  don’t be afraid to copy.

  3. Climate monthnotes: January & February

    It’s so tempting to start each of these with a clichéd “where did the time go?” or “how is it X month already?”, but in this case, it really does feel like 2024 is running away from us! 

    January kicked off with Louise, Alex and I heading to the Democracy Network conference, where the theme of climate ran throughout lots of the discussions. If you are also interested in the intersections between climate, democracy and civic tech, you’ll be delighted to know that the call for proposals TICTeC 2024 is out now!

    At the start of February, Annie from Climate Emergency UK and I worked on a piece that was published in the LGC, responding to an article from Richard Clewer asking for more emissions data in the Council Climate Action Scorecards. We agreed with Richard that more scoped emissions data would strengthen the scorecards. But, without a statutory reporting framework, that data simply doesn’t exist. We pointed to our fragmented data asks, that I’ve written about in these parts before. Also on our fragmented data work, our joint response with the Centre for Public Data to the Housing & Levelling Up inquiry has been published on the committee’s website. Two great examples of collaborative working to kick off the year!

    The big ticket item for the last few months has of course been the Local Intelligence Hub, our joint project with the Climate Coalition, which launched to the public on 15th February! We’ve had such brilliant feedback from the launch, including great coverage in national and local media outlets. Zarino and I have been demonstrating the Hub to anyone who’ll have us (get in touch if you’d like your own demo!) — or watch Zarino’s brilliant short videos on YouTube. Struan and Alexander have been working through the datasets at phenomenal speed, and Myf has been doing wonderful messaging on Twitter and over on LinkedIn.

    There are plans afoot to add even more data, so if you’re sitting on datasets that you think would be useful to yourself and others as part of the Hub, let us know! We’re especially interested in data organised by the new constituency boundaries, which I explain in more detail in a blog post about the recent byelections. Zarino made the most of the extra leap year day with several of our friends from the sector, at an event about data and the new constituencies.

    Alongside all of the excitement about Local Intelligence Hub, the wheels are starting to turn for the next round of the Climate Action Scorecards. Siôn, Zarino and I have all attended different section-specific roundtables, which have involved brilliant discussions with council officers and industry experts. I’ll be joining the CE UK team at the Scorecards Report Launch & Conference on the 21st: hope to see some of you there! 

    Photo by Chandan Chaurasia on Unsplash

  4. By-Election Briefing: Understanding boundary changes with the Local Intelligence Hub

    Last Thursday saw two by-elections and two new MPs elected. When the Kingswood and Wellingborough voters go to the polls for the upcoming general election, many will be voting for candidates in brand new constituencies, and won’t have the MP they’ve just elected on their ballot paper. What can the Local Intelligence Hub tell us about how these constituencies will change?

    The times boundaries, they are a’changing

    Both of the constituencies that went to the polls on Thursday are being divided up to form multiple new constituencies at the next general election. The total number of constituencies and MPs (650) isn’t changing, but the boundaries are moving, and there are lots of new (and long) constituency names. In the case of Kingswood, no constituency of that name will exist anymore, instead being replaced by four brand new constituencies. Wellingborough, meanwhile, will be divided into three new constituencies. Let’s dive into the detail 👇

    So, who goes where?

    At the top of our new constituency pages, you’ll find the candidates that have been announced for that seat, thanks to our friends at The Democracy Club. This isn’t an official data set, it’s crowdsourced by Democracy Club and their wonderful volunteers.

    We can see that Kingswood’s new MP, Damian Egan, is standing as the candidate in the new Bristol North East constituency. We also know that just 36% of the constituency’s current population will have the opportunity to vote for him next time round. Here’s how Kingswood will change:

    • Bristol North East will cover approximately 36% of this constituency’s population, and 15% of this constituency’s area. 
    • Filton and Bradley Stoke will cover approximately 18% of this constituency’s population, and 10% of this constituency’s area.
    • North East Somerset and Hanham will cover approximately 45% of this constituency’s population, and 60% of this constituency’s area.
    • Thornbury and Yate will cover approximately 1% of this constituency’s population, and 14% of this constituency’s area.

    What about Wellingborough? We don’t have as much candidate information, but we do know that Wellingborough will become:

    • Daventry, which will cover approximately 4% of this constituency’s population, and 24% of this constituency’s area.
    • South Northamptonshire, which will cover approximately 5% of this constituency’s population, and 24% of this constituency’s area.
    • Wellingborough and Rushden, which will cover approximately 90% of this constituency’s population, and 51% of this constituency’s area.

    What does that mean for our data?

    As we explain here, it depends on how the data comes to us in the first place.

    Over time, statistics agencies will release more information for future constituencies, which we will be able to import straight into the Local Intelligence Hub. But during the changeover we want to keep as much of the value of datasets for the outgoing constituencies as possible.

    What can we say about how these constituencies will change?

    For datasets where we have the original data at a very granular level (eg: LSOA or point-based data), we’ve started creating new datasets using future constituencies. We’ve already done that for the Index of Multiple Deprivation dataset, and we’ll let you know as we make more progress on this. 

    Where we only have data at the level of current constituencies, we’ve created a process to approximately convert information from current to future constituencies. The big assumption of this method is that, for either people or area, the thing being measured is evenly distributed across that metric. As such, we think it’s fair to say that while the data is fuzzy in comparison between neighbours, overall it will capture trends across wider areas or regions.

    You can also dig into the new constituencies data yourself.

    Thoughts?

    The Local Intelligence Hub is brand new, and we’re still working out how to make it as useful as possible – for old constituencies, and new ones. Please try the hub out for yourself, and let us know how you get on!

    Photo by Red Dot on Unsplash

    P.S. We’ve also published this on our LinkedIn page – why not connect with us there?

  5. Event recap: How can we make local climate data more useful for everyone?

    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.

    Anna Powell-Smith, from the Centre for Public Data, highlighted the key recommendations from the Unlocking Fragmented Data report, published jointly with mySociety earlier this year. These are:

    1. A collaborative (but required) data standard to agree the data and format that is expected. 
    2. An online central repository of the location of the published data, so that data users can find it easily.
    3. 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.

    Photo by Benjamin Elliott on Unsplash

  6. New feature! Scorecards Question Pages unlock hundreds of brand new datasets

    This year’s Council Climate Action Scorecards involved thousands of hours of volunteer time, hundreds of FOI requests and a lot of scrolling through local authority websites. Now we’re excited to launch a brand new filtering tool that lets you unlock the value of all of this amazing new data: question pages

    These individual pages allow anyone — from campaigners to council officers — to unlock the most interesting data from the Scorecards. You can now view a dedicated page for each question, which is itself a brand new and comprehensive dataset of local authority action. This will filter by type, rank all the councils from highest to lowest scoring, show the evidence for why councils scored point(s), and will tell you how many councils achieved each of the possible available marks.

    Find these pages by clicking through from the question you’re interested in from any council’s page.

    screenshot of a question page on Scorecards - Does the council use peat free compost or soil in all landscaping and horticulture?

    This allows anyone to:

    • Get a sense of where best practice is happening in the country, by policy area
    • Share examples of best practice, so that more councils can more easily access the policy solutions they need
    • Evaluate trends in where local authority action is succeeding or stalling across the country.
    List of councils with their scores for the question 'Does the council use peat free compost or soil in all landscaping and horticulture?'

    Not sure where to start? Below, we’ve pulled out three really interesting brand new datasets. And, because these illustrate some of the gaps that we identified in our Fragmented Data report, we hope they’ll show just how useful this kind of nationwide picture would be if they were being published as standard.

    3.1 Is the council’s area wide net zero target a strategic objective of the Local Plan?

    socrecards question page: Is the council's area wide net zero target a strategic objective of the Local Plan?Local Plans are the key piece of local authority policy that guide how a council will run its operations. We want to see climate action and net zero move beyond siloed ‘Climate plans’ and into day-to-day local planning. On Scorecards, councils scored the one available point for this question if the Local Plan included reaching net zero as a strategic objective, and if the council’s net zero target date is a) area wide and b) also found within the Plan. See this question page here.

    Through volunteer research, we now know:

    • 44 out of 186 single tier councils got full marks for this question.
    • 31 out of 181 district councils got full marks for this question.
    • 0 out of 24 county councils got full marks for this question.
    • 0 out of 11 Northern Ireland councils got full marks for this question.

    This is a great example of something you can ask your local council to do that doesn’t cost them any money, but will make a huge difference to day-to-day climate policy in your local area. Using the questions page, we can highlight councils of the same type that score well, in order to surface the evidence, allowing them to share it as best practice.  

    In this case, you may wish to share Wakefield’s recent local plan with your council

    4.3a Is the council reporting on its own greenhouse gas emissions?

    Scorecards question page: Is the council reporting on its own greenhouse gas emissions?Our Fragmented Data report details why we think it would be useful for central government to support local government in compulsory and collaborative reporting standards for local councils, especially on climate action. We can’t know the progress made and the progress yet to happen without better data – and the Scorecards project would certainly be a lot easier if we had more data published in more useful formats! See this question page here.

    A council got a point on this question if it is reporting its own emissions and fulfils all of the following:

    • the council states whether they are using the Environmental Reporting Guidelines from Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the GCoM Common Reporting Framework (CRF), the Greenhouse Gas Accounting Tool (from the LGA), the Greenhouse Gas Protocol for Cities (Community Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories) or for Corporate Standards to develop their inventory.
    • the inventory covers a continuous period of 12 months, either a calendar year or a financial year
    • there is data from 2019 and 2021 (or the financial year 2021/22)
    • the council is measuring their own scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions

    Thanks to hundreds of hours of volunteer time, we now know:

    • 69 out of 186 single tier councils got full marks for this question.
    • 48 out of 181 district councils got full marks for this question.
    • 11 out of 24 county councils got full marks for this question.
    • 1/11 Northern Ireland councils got full marks for this question.

    We have lots more on why climate data is so essential, and the sorts of climate data we need, in this blog post

    If you’d like to share best practice with your council, take a look at Westminster City Council. You may also want to encourage your council to participate in the CDP reporting programme, a brilliantly in-depth reporting framework that is used across the globe, and published in the open.

    6.3 Has the council lobbied the government for climate action?

    scorecards question page - has the ouncil lobbied the government for climate action?This is such an interesting question — the results of which have been uncovered through FOI  — because it gets at the often-obscured links between local and national climate action. Local authorities are undoubtedly limited in their ability to act by budgets and resources handed down by national government, but they too have a voice in asking national government to prioritise climate spending. See this question page here.

    Councils got a point in this question if they:

    •  sent a letter or had a meeting with national or devolved governments calling for the government to take further action, 
    • or asked for councils to receive more funding, powers and climate resources to take climate action.

    Through FOI requests sent via WhatDoTheyKnow, we know:

    • 86 out of 186 single tier councils got full marks for this question.
    • 59 out of 181 district councils got full marks for this question.
    • 11 out of 24 county councils got full marks for this question.
    • 5 out of 11 Northern Ireland councils got full marks for this question.

    Across the board in this question, about half of councils have lobbied national government for climate action, with district councils lagging slightly behind. 

    Once again, this is an example of an council action which requires no additional cost and very little resources. If you’d like to email your council to ask them to start lobbying national government, or to do more, you could point to the great example from Chorley Council.


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    Image: RMHare (CC by-sa/4.0)

  7. Climate monthnotes: September 2023

    Hi everyone – I’m Julia, the Policy and Advocacy Manager here at mySociety. You might have heard me mentioned around these parts before, but I’m happy to be clocking in to deliver my first monthnotes! September was a typically busy ‘back to school’ type month for us, with lots of progress on our existing projects, and some of our work in the news.

    Last week, I was delighted to attend the launch of Chris Skidmore MP’s new Local Mission Zero report launch, as many of our fragmented data recommendations were accepted into the report. We think that a few tweaks to the way that existing climate data is published will really improve the data ecosystem for everyone – and we’re delighted the Net Zero Local Coalition took forward our suggestions.

    Much of this month has been dominated by preparing for the launch of the 2023 Climate Action Scorecards. These follow on from the previous scorecards that were looking at local authorities’ climate plans, with this round of scorecards focusing on what actions councils are actually delivering on climate. Ahead of the launch next month, Climate Emergency UK released the Freedom of Information requests that went into answering many of the questions behind this years’ scorecards. Alex wrote a great blog post about how our WhatDoTheyKnow Projects Tool allowed CE UK’s team of volunteers to conduct a nationwide survey of every council, and the new findings about EPC results were covered by the Financial Times [paywalled].

    If you’re interested in your council’s track record on climate action, you’ll be pleased to hear that Alex added a load of brilliant new updates to CAPE this month. If you have a look around, you’ll find improvements to the search function using machine learning, updates for the new local councils, local polling data on attitudes to net zero, and reports from Climate Assemblies in the relevant authority areas. Once you’ve had a chance to experiment, don’t forget to tell us what you think.

    We’re not always sat behind our laptops, we promise! At the start of the month, Zarino went down to Keele to speak at the Wildlife Trusts conference about our plans for the Local Intelligence Hub, and how campaigners use our other services, such as WriteToThem and TheyWorkForYou. If you’re ever looking for inspiration, or a new tactic to add to your campaigning portfolio, our wonderful Marketing & Comms Manager, Myf, keeps our blog up-to-date with wonderful case studies such as this one about a community campaign to save local trees in Plymouth. Last but not least, in case you missed it, last week Siôn published a new dedicated monthnotes for Neighbourhood Warmth.

     

    Photo by Jacqueline O’Gara on Unsplash

  8. mySociety recommendations in new ‘The Future Is Local’ report

    Over the summer, we were invited to be a part of the Local Mission Zero Network consultation, and we’re thrilled that our key fragmented data policy recommendations have been included in the new report, as well as recognition for some of our wider work on climate. 

    Rt Hon Chris Skidmore OBE MP, former Net Zero Review Chair and one of the co-authors of the report, said:

    “The Local Mission Zero Network’s first report, The Future Is Local, sets out over thirty recommendations to further the Net Zero Review’s local delivery mission. It’s clear that if central government won’t step up, it should get out of the way and allow local and regional leaders to forge ahead with their positive vision to achieve local Net Zero in partnership with communities up and down the country. Unleashing their ambition is the most effective way to harness the economic and regional growth opportunities that Net Zero can unlock.

    I’d like to thank MySociety for their involvement in the network and also for their input in making key recommendations on the need for better data and information to achieve Net zero.”

    The report, co-authored with Lord Ben Houchen, released today, is “intended not only to highlight the continued challenges facing the local delivery of net zero, it also seeks to frame these challenges into a new framework for ensuring local authorities and regions have the certainty to achieve their net zero ambitions”. It is a much needed intervention, and makes clear that “in the current policy environment, and ahead of the next General Election, greater certainty over local net zero is essential”.

    Within Recommendation 1, Introduce a Local Net Zero Charter to agree responsibilities and enhance partnership between the UK government, devolved governments and regional, city and local authorities, there are three specific recommendations relating to our fragmented data work:

    1f) A Local Net Zero Data and Reporting Framework should be established, in order to provide consistency and increase integrity for reporting across local authorities.

    1g) The Net Zero Review recommended that ONS should collect more forms of net zero related data, and this network maintains that net zero will be better delivered the more we know, and where we know action needs to take place.

    1h) The need for open source and operable data is also important, if we are to encourage better uses of AI and future systems thinking. This data to be held in a central repository, supported by a central government data convenor.

    In the Unlocking the value of fragmented public data report we published last year, we stress the importance of local climate data being published in a way that is useful, ultimately creating positive feedback loops across the economy. It’s great to see the report emphasise this:

    “The challenge of fragmented and inoperable data standards is not merely a matter for more effective local authority performance. The future of energy system planning could be better forecast if several datasets were better aligned.” 

    The body of the report also highlights our conclusions about the kinds of climate data we need:

    more about how  local authorities reflect on their own progress. In these instances, free text which we can semantically search, is often most helpful. We need data around:

    • Personnel, systems & processes to manage climate monitoring and reporting. This helps us to understand who is doing the work, and how resource allocation happens. 
    • Progress since the last reporting period, and key areas of focus for the period ahead. This gives a vital sense of context and perspective from inside the reporting body, and helps situate the scale of work undertaken against work yet to be done.

    Finally, our CAPE project was mentioned as “effective monitor[ing]”, and we were so pleased to see the work we do with Climate Emergency UK to create the Climate Scorecards recognised: “By simplifying complex data, it allowed stakeholders to identify gaps and progress in climate initiatives, empowering communities to advocate for change”.

    If you’d like to read the report in full, you can find it here. You may even want to share some of the recommendations from the report with your MP, which you could do using our service WriteToThem

    Any questions for our policy team? Get in touch: policy@mysociety.org 

    Image: Minku Kang on Unsplash

  9. Empowering local change together: mySociety joins the Blueprint Coalition

    We’re delighted to announce that mySociety has joined the Blueprint Coalition – an influential group of local government organisations, environmental groups, and research institutions working together to deliver local climate action with a joined-up approach. 

    The Coalition works across sectoral, geographical and party boundaries to make change happen. We’re excited to join the other members in calling upon the government to provide the crucial support local authorities need to deliver on tackling the climate crisis.

    About mySociety

    Becoming a part of the Blueprint Coalition isn’t just a milestone; it’s a commitment to a cause larger than ourselves. As mySociety joins hands with like-minded organisations, we are poised to make significant progress in our aim to make climate-related data more accessible. We believe that more information makes for better-informed action, so everything we do puts richer, more usable data into the open, where everyone can use it. 

    Our Climate, Transparency and Democracy streams consist of a number of services (such as CAPE, Climate Scorecards, TheyWorkForYou, WriteToThem, and WhatDoTheyKnow) which we bring to the Coalition alongside our research, policy and advocacy work. Our policy work has been focusing on the issue of fragmented data, and we’re excited to be planning a webinar on this topic with the Coalition – watch this space!

    About the Blueprint Coalition

    In December 2020, the Blueprint Coalition published a comprehensive manifesto that serves as a roadmap to expedite climate action and usher in a green recovery at the local level. It outlines the national leadership, policies, powers, and funding required to empower local authorities in making impactful changes on a substantial scale. Drawing on the first-hand experiences of local authorities that have declared climate emergencies, this blueprint serves as a guiding light for collective action towards a sustainable future.

    A defining feature of the Blueprint Coalition is its central ethos of fostering partnerships between civil society, national and local governments. Recognising that achieving net zero carbon emissions requires the collaboration of all levels of governance, the Coalition’s work serves as a testament to the power of collaboration.

    The Coalition partners include: 

    • Ashden
    • Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Transport and Planning (ADEPT)
    • Centre for Alternative Technology
    • Climate Emergency UK
    • Friends of the Earth
    • Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment (Imperial College London)
    • London Environment Directors’ Network (LEDNet)
    • Place-based Climate Action Network (PCAN) at LSE
    • Solace
    • in addition to support from London Councils and Green Alliance.

    If you’d like to show your support for the Coalition, you can sign up here. And to stay updated on our Climate programme, you can sign up to our newsletter.

    Any other questions or comments? Get in touch with Julia, our Policy & Advocacy Manager.

    Image: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. See page for author.

  10. From fragmentation to collaboration: strengthening local climate data

    We’ve recently published a report on fragmented data and local councils’ climate action. Download it here.

    At all levels of government, and across the UK, there is growing recognition of the importance of local government in achieving the UK’s climate commitments. From this, there is a growing need to understand the impact of the interventions taking place at a local authority level, and as such, there are growing calls from central government and civil society for more climate data publishing. 

    We recognise that these calls for more data do not always take into account the resources needed from within authorities to prepare this data, nor how to make the data useful to the authorities that published it in the first place.

    More data publishing makes the climate data ecosystem richer, but smarter data publishing makes it more useful. If we replicate the history of previous central mandates to publish information, we will repeat mistakes that found local authorities using limited resources to put out data in ways that are far too costly to bring together and build upon.

    We call this problem fragmented public data, and believe that a little bit more coordination and central support can supercharge the value of the data that local government produces. We need better tools and a better understanding of the skills and resources available to council staff. A realistic analysis of resource limitations of local government, and working with council staff who produce the data, will create more useful results, than a ‘best practice’ that requires obstructively high levels of technical skill. 

    Central government has a role in providing more than an edict to publish: it must offer the support and resources to facilitate cooperation and publication of data spread over hundreds of local authorities. Net zero data publication does not have to be a burden. Together, civil society, central and local governments can come together to create a data ecosystem that is greater than the sum of its parts.  To build that ecosystem, we propose the following key principles:

    • A collaborative (but compulsory) data standard to agree the data and format that is expected.
    • A central repository of the location of the published data, which is kept up to date with new releases of data.
    • Support from a data convener to make publication simple – such as, through validation and publication tools, coordinating data submissions, and technical support.

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