1. 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

     

  2. We’re putting more ‘local’ into the Local Intelligence Hub

    Tl;dr: We’ve added lots of local council data to the Local Intelligence Hub.

    In February, we launched the Local Intelligence Hub, and today we’ve released a huge new update. 

    We designed the Local Intelligence Hub — in collaboration with The Climate Coalition and supported by Green Alliance — to provide all the data you need, either about one constituency or across the whole country, on issues around climate. It helps you gain a deep understanding of public opinion, demographics, political considerations, and much, much more. In short, it’s an extremely powerful tool, free to use, and invaluable for anyone pushing for better climate action.  

    At launch, we divided the data by UK Parliamentary constituency — but with this huge new update, you can now also explore data at the local council level.

    As ever, there are several different ways to view this data:

    • by individual authority, so you can deep dive into your local area
    • as a table, so you can compare councils by metrics that matter to you
    • plotted onto a map, so you can see where to find hot- and cold-spots of action

    And it can all be downloaded as a spreadsheet for use on your own desktop.

    What kind of data are we talking about?

    We’re pulling together data from multiple different sources. What does it all have in common? We reckon that it provides new insights for climate campaigners, researchers, journalists and organisations  — especially when it’s combined in new ways, as Local Intelligence Hub allows you to do quickly and simply. 

    Sources include national polling data, information from our services CAPE and Scorecards, and other Climate Coalition member organisations, like the National Trust and the RSPB. 

    And we’re always looking for more data, so do get in touch if you know of a useful source we haven’t yet included! 

    What can I do with it?

    You will know best how this rich data could inform your work, but here are a few ideas to get you started.

    1. Build a profile of your local council

    Dip into the local council page and see what data awaits you! Here’s an example of the top-level stats you can find for Leeds City Council:

    • The area has a strong mandate for climate action. MRP polling suggests we’d see 88% of Leeds City residents support onshore wind compared to 83.5% national average, and just 10% oppose net zero compared to 12% national average. 
    • Leeds City Council is doing better than most councils, but could be doing more. It scored 53% on the Climate Action Scorecards, gaining its highest scores in Planning and Land Use, but with the biggest room for improvement on Transport. 
    • Emissions are huge, but so is the population. Leeds City Council serves 798,786 residents compared to the average of 307,712. According to BEIS data, Leeds City Council has influence over 2,822 kilotons of CO2 emissions, which is more than twice the national average of 1,168.3.
    • There’s an active climate movement. In Leeds city there were more Great Big Green Week events than average in both 2022 and 2023.

     

    2. Design a national campaign strategy 

    If you’re a campaigning organisation looking to work out where and how to allocate resources, the table-builder and CSV download could form an essential part of your planning process. Here we’ve generated the single-tier councils with Net Zero target dates that fall within the coming decade, and sorted by their Action Scorecards overall score, alongside useful data about public opinion and emissions.

    Council Name Action Scorecards overall score Net Zero target date Population Oppose Net Zero % Total emissions (ktCO2) IMD Trussell Trust foodbanks Support onshore wind
    Wolverhampton City Council 21 2028 264407 12 854 1 0 82.0
    Middlesbrough Council 21 2029 141285 12 558 1 7 78.0
    Bromley Council 26 2027 332752 12 938 5 4 88.1
    Dumfries and Galloway Council 28 2025 148290 15 864 3 3 80.0
    Oldham Borough Council 32 2025 237628 12 690 1 2 80.1
    Cheshire East Council 33 2025 386667 13 1860 4 2 87.9
    Highland Council 35 2025 235430 13 1268 4 7 82.6
    Nottingham City Council 42 2028 337098 9 1038 1 10 78.0
    Haringey Borough Council 52 2027 266357 7 617 2 1 79.3
    Tower Hamlets Borough Council 53 2025 331969 6 1019 2 0 79.8
    Bristol City Council 55 2025 465866 8 1295 2 13 86.5

    3. Visualise your goals

    Local Intelligence Hub helps you zero in on the areas of the country that meet specific criteria. For example, where are the district councils who have declared a climate emergency but haven’t published a climate action plan? Here’s a map that shows you — just one of hundreds of maps that you can generate with a few clicks, and no expertise required:

     

     

    What to do with all this lovely local data?

    Thanks to this update, it’s now easier than ever to push for local climate action. With these rich new insights, you now have a number of talking points with which to engage your local councillors or council climate officers — and a wealth of facts and figures to back them up.

    What next?

    We need you to use the Hub and tell us what works, and what doesn’t! Give us your feedback  — and if you’d like to know whenever we add something new,  sign up to updates and we’ll let you know when there’s new data to play with.

     

    Photo by Daniil Korbut on Unsplash

  3. The Council Climate Scorecards project is having international impact

    Canada differs from the UK in many ways: obviously it’s vastly bigger, extending across many more latitudes; its climate, nature and terrains vary hugely; its cities are more dispersed and diverse — and accordingly, the challenges the two countries face around tackling the climate emergency are different, too. 

    But there are some significant ways in which we are alike, too, as we learned when we chatted with Hannah Muhajarine, National Campaign Manager at the Climate Reality Project Canada

    Climate Reality, like mySociety and Climate Emergency UK, have identified local councils — or municipal governments as they’re called in Canada — as crucial contributors to our respective countries’ decarbonisation. Both sides run projects that monitor the climate action of these authorities, helping citizens to keep an eye on their progress.

    “Scorecards helped us reimagine both our content and project design.”

    Hannah first heard about the Council Climate Action Scorecards on the Local Zero podcast, and immediately saw the parallels between our two projects. Not only that — she understood that Climate Reality could learn from our project, adopting some of the Scorecards’ approaches. 

    We were keen to hear how the Scorecards have encouraged Climate Reality to enrich and broaden their own work in monitoring climate action at the local level. So, first of all, what is Climate Reality?

    “We’re the Canadian branch of The Climate Reality Project, which is an international climate organisation,” explained Hannah.”We work by training citizens on climate advocacy, education, and communication.  

    “This includes supporting a network of Community Climate Hubs across Canada, which mobilise citizens to get involved in local climate advocacy targeting city and town councils. 

    “These grassroots groups get involved in a variety of projects, including making sure that climate is a priority during municipal elections and budget-setting; participating in public consultations relating to climate; campaigning to get their council to declare a climate emergency; organising campaigns; hosting community-facing public events on climate, and more.”

    All good stuff, but a lot more hands-on advocacy than we’ve been doing over here. So, where are the links with the Scorecards project?

    “To support the Hubs and their local advocacy work, since 2018 Climate Reality has led a project called the National Climate League (NCL), where we trained volunteers to collect data every year on a set of climate-related indicators measuring climate progress at the local level across Canada”.

    Ah yes, the overlaps certainly begin to become obvious — in fact, that’s exactly what Climate Emergency UK did for the UK Scorecards. So, what sort of data were Climate Reality collecting?

    “For example, the number of Passive Certified buildings within municipal limits, the number of transit trips per year, household waste per year… we also tracked a smaller number of policies, like climate plans and climate targets, adaptation plans, green building policies and so on.”

    And, like the Scorecards, all this information was a useful way of letting the public know how their local government was getting on: “Climate Reality staff would pull together the volunteer-collected data each year and publish it in a report, with data visualisations comparing municipalities across the range of indicators, the results of our policy scan, and case studies of top-performing municipalities.”

    “Learning about the Scorecards provided a great inspiration, and a specific model for us to work towards.”

    Hannah goes on, “In the spring of 2023, we’d just launched the fifth edition. We were interested in re-evaluating the design of the project, and especially expanding the policy aspect.”

    This was great timing: “It was around then that I heard about the Scorecards on an episode of the Local Zero podcast. I was really excited, since the project had many parallels to ours, but featured more detailed and extensive criteria — plus it was a bit larger scale in terms of volunteer participants and the number of councils covered, and it used the scoring method to compare councils with one another, which we hadn’t previously considered.”

    What great synchronicity. So, what changes did Climate Reality make, inspired by the Scorecards?

    Hannah explains, “Scorecards helped us reimagine both our content and project design. For example, we introduced more extensive and in-depth training for volunteers. Inspired by the way that Climate Emergency UK work, we identified volunteers with key skills, and harnessed them to help with data verification. 

    You also influenced us to add questions around retrofit programmes, support for low-income homeowners and rental housing; renewable energy targets; and community climate action funding.”

    And so, what were the outcomes of these changes?

    “We were able to recruit 51 volunteers to participate in data collection this year, and collect data for 53 municipalities across Canada, which is a great expansion on the project compared to last year.

    “Plus, the new version of the NCL includes 21 policy questions, each with several sub-questions. So we’re now tracking things like climate plans, community greenhouse gas reduction targets, citizens’ climate advisory committees, mode-share targets, curbside composting programmes, and more. 

    “We’re hoping the new Scorecards-informed version of the NCL will provide a great boost in terms of the data and information available to our network of climate advocates, and give them a new tool they can use to engage in local climate advocacy, targeting city councils, towns, and even other jurisdictions perhaps — as well as communicating with their community about how their city/town compares to others on climate. 

    “My hope is that expanding and strengthening the policy element of the NCL — which the Scorecards helped us do — will really help boost local advocates’ policy literacy, help them identify specific policies, targets and programmes that other municipalities have implemented and which they might like to build a campaign around and encourage their municipality to adopt. They’ll be able to evaluate their council’s climate plans and targets against what has actually been implemented and what the outcomes have been — in other words, they’ll be empowered to draw the connection between policy and action, just as the Scorecards have done.”

    Climate Reality won’t actually be scoring the municipalities this year, though Hannah says it’s a consideration for future iterations. “As you all know, there are challenges with designing an objective, properly weighted scoring system, so we decided we didn’t have the capacity to go all in on trying to design something this year, but it would be something we’d like to do in the future. Obviously it is a really good method for translating a lot of detailed, diverse policy information into something that can provide an at a glance comparison.

    “Overall, learning about the Scorecards and connecting with Climate Emergency UK provided a great inspiration, and a specific model for us to work towards, as well as really helpful advice on specific shared challenges.”

    We are very gratified to hear that. It is always wonderful to connect with other projects around the world that are working towards similar aims by similar means, and to exchange ideas. Thanks very much to Hannah for telling us all about it.

    Image: Will Clewis

  4. Council Climate Action scorecards support climate officers

    Lucie Bolton took the position of Climate Strategy Officer at Rother District Council in 2022. Since then, she’s found the Council Climate Action Scorecards project an invaluable support for her work. 

    Hearing this, we were of course keen to find out more — so we asked Lucie to share her journey, from brand new climate officer to now, a couple of years on, with a refreshed strategy and action plan in place.

    “The council had declared a Climate Emergency in September 2019, going on to adopt their Environment Strategy in 2020”, explains Lucie, “But the pandemic and staff changes meant the production of a Climate Action Plan was delayed. That’s not to say climate action wasn’t taking place, but there were no KPIs, and it wasn’t fully embedded across the organisation.”

    “Scorecards helped us reimagine both our content and project design.”

    Post pandemic, recognising a need for a more concerted approach, the council employed two new staff: Lucie as Climate Strategy Officer, plus a new Climate Project Officer.

    “I was brought in to refresh the Environment Strategy — which was renamed the Climate Strategy — and to develop and deliver the Climate Action Plan.”

    While Lucie had highly relevant experience in her background, the council context was new for her: 

    “I came from an environmental NGO, where I was involved with developing strategies, but I hadn’t developed a Climate Strategy for a local authority before. 

    “I performed the usual strategy development activities — gap analysis, evidence base and so on — and when I was looking at best practices across the sector, I came across the Council Climate Plan Scorecards.”

    The Climate Plan Scorecards, released in 2022, were the precursor to the Climate Action Scorecards. They scrutinised every UK council’s action plans, marking them to a wide set of criteria. 

    “This was a fantastic resource for me,” says Lucie, “as I was able to see what good looks like and what we should be aiming for. 

    “I used the Scorecards to look at neighbouring authorities, authorities with similar emissions, demographics et cetera. Along with other resources like the UK100 Powers in Place report, it helped me shape the Rother District Council Climate Strategy. 

    “I was also able to reach out to different authorities and speak to their Climate Officers, which was useful.”

    In 2023, the Council Climate Action Scorecards were launched, providing Lucie with still more invaluable data.

    “I found the methodology particularly useful for developing Rother District Council’s Climate Action Plan. It was also useful to benchmark against, to see what we have already achieved and where we could do better”. 

    “This was a fantastic resource for me, as I was able to see what good looks like and what we should be aiming for.”

    “Overall, the results were useful in demonstrating to colleagues the sort of things we could be doing and what our neighbouring authorities were doing.”

    Rother District Council adopted the refreshed Climate Strategy and Climate Action Plan in December 2023, and Lucie continues to dip into the Scorecards.

    “I am now using them regularly in the implementation of the Climate Action Plan. For example, we have an action to eliminate pesticide usage in the council’s grounds maintenance. Using the Scorecards, I can quickly find examples of other councils who have already done this, and access the information I need through the evidence links.

    “I’m really pleased to hear there will be another round of council scoring. I think Rother District Council will score better thanks to the action we have taken since the first round of scoring, though I am concerned the timeframe will mean some significant activities will still be in progress. Our new Local Plan, for example, is aiming to be ambitious and align with our 2030 target, but is unlikely to be ready to be examined in that round.”

    Thanks very much to Lucie for sharing her story. We hope it inspires other Climate Officers to explore how the Scorecards project can aid them in their work.

    Image: Chris McAuley (CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

  5. “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.

  6. Council Climate Action Scorecards help councillor to get a sustainability motion passed

    We were more than delighted when this news story crossed our radar, showing in detail how Cllr Andrew Murray, of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, used the Council Climate Action Scorecards to gain support from his fellow councillors for climate action.

    Cllr Murray’s proposed motion even referred to the Scorecards themselves:

    “This Council acknowledges the work done to date to help address the climate emergency; reaffirms previous motions regarding the degenerating global situation; and again, reiterates that the crisis is the biggest threat posed to our constituents, our district, and our planet.

    “Further acknowledges, however, that recent data collated by Climate Emergency UK ranks NMDDC 8th out of the 11 Councils within NI; and thus, pledges to include ambitious targets in the forthcoming Sustainability and Climate Strategies and Action Plans to expedite implementation.

    Cllr Murray went on to explain that the council was below the averages for Northern Ireland in five sections of the Scorecards, albeit that in two — Building & Heating and Waste Reduction & Food – they had scored better than most of their NI fellow councils. Finally, he pointed out that their scores may have suffered from a lack of communication around the council’s recent activity.

    We admired this intervention for its use of the Scorecards to do several things: point out where the council was lagging behind others in the country; give recognition to the areas where Scorecard rankings were above average; and to point out that some action they were taking may not be visible enough to outside observers.

    All of these points were given further legitimacy by the fact that the Scorecards are an independent project, providing an objective set of benchmarks.

    We got in touch with Cllr Murray to ask him more. He was a strong advocate for his local area, happy to describe its many charms:

    “I am an elected representative for the Slieve Croob DEA,” he told us, “which lies within Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. I live in a wee town called Castlewellan. We’ve lots of forests, hills and coast within my area, and the council area as a whole.”

    Sounds like an area where it’s well worth protecting the natural environment then! So, how did the Scorecards help?

    Cllr Murray explains: “The Scorecards were very useful. I used them as an impetus to draw up a motion asking our council to attribute targets to actions they are taking, or will take in the future, regarding climate change and the environment. 

    “Because the Scorecards were collated as well as being subdivided into relevant sections, I was able to curate my speaking notes appropriately.

    “But they were also useful for a number of other reasons: firstly, they averaged out what other councils in Northern Ireland were attaining. In Northern Ireland, we have different responsibilities to our English, Scottish and Welsh counterparts. So to have them separated out regionally meant that Council Officers could not simply bat away the motion by saying the cards were not relevant – there are demonstrable things that other councils within Northern Ireland are doing that we are not. 

    “That is not to say that they were simply used as a stick with which to beat Officers! There were aspects in which our council was above average, so this allowed praise to be allocated to the areas in which it was deserved. 

    “Likewise, there were areas in which, from my reading of them and my understanding of the council, I think that there are some functions we are actually already performing but haven’t communicated – ergo, we could easily improve our score. 

    “The Scorecards enabled me to lay things out succinctly and clearly, and I was able to get the motion passed. The hope is that sections of them can be incorporated into the targets for the council, and we can ultimately improve on our climatic and environmental impact. 

    “Obviously if that means we improve our position amongst other Northern Ireland councils, then happy days. But, as the saying goes, an incoming tide raises all boats – so if our position remains the same, but councils everywhere become more sustainable and mitigate our impact on the environment, then that’s a good thing all round. But ultimately, we have to control the things that we affect here in Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.”

    That is exactly what we like to hear, and goes a long way to exemplifying exactly why Climate Emergency UK and mySociety came together to produce the Scorecards project. 

    We are very glad that Councillor Murray was able to use them for furthering climate action in his beautiful corner of Northern Ireland — and we hope councillors everywhere will take inspiration from his method for doing so.

    Image: Shan Marsh Bubashan

  7. 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

  8. 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?

  9. The Local Intelligence Hub: our latest launch helps you put climate on the agenda

    A general election is not far away, so get ready for heated conversations: on your doorstep, on social media and in the news.

    If you care about climate, we want you to be able to take part in those conversations with the facts at your fingertips. That’s why this week, we’re launching the Local Intelligence Hub, a powerful tool that provides a wealth of relevant national and local data in one place — and encourages you to combine it in a multitude of ways, to uncover useful new insights.

    mySociety worked in collaboration with The Climate Coalition, supported by Green Alliance to develop this site. The aim is to help you — whether you’re a citizen, climate campaigner or part of an organisation — to understand and share the places where there is a strong mandate for environmental action, ensuring commitments to climate and nature are put firmly onto party manifestos. We’ve demoed it in front of organisations who’ve told us it’s a total gamechanger!

    But enough words — let’s get straight to the action. Watch these short videos and you’ll immediately grasp the power of the Local Intelligence Hub.

    For individuals

    “I’m just one person: what difference can I make?” Well, with the Local Intelligence Hub’s data, you can make a lot of difference.

    As a first step, put your postcode into the Local Intelligence Hub and find out all about your local area.

    You might find some interesting data combinations: for example, what does public support for climate action look like in comparison to data on air pollution in your constituency? How about the measures of poverty against support for cheaper renewable energy?

    We hope you’ll use this kind of intel to inform conversations with canvassers or your MP. If you discover something notable, why not write to the newspaper — local or national — or share your findings with your community newsletter, Facebook group etc?

    In the run-up to an election public opinion has a lot of power, and all the more so when you can quote the data to prove it.

    Screenshot of the map page from Local Intelligence Hub

    For campaigning

    If you are part of a climate campaign that works nationally, the Local Intelligence Hub shows you at a glance where in the country to concentrate your activity for the most impact.

    Play about with the map page, selecting different datasets, and you’ll soon understand the insights they unlock. Every constituency with high support for renewable energy for example; or the constituencies where the MPs have the lowest majorities; or where the population is youngest… the possibilities are practically endless.

    If you’re more locally-based, dive into the constituency pages where a massive range of local data allows you to have a full picture of the area:

    • Public opinion: How much support is there for climate initiatives such as net zero or renewable energy?
    • Place: What factors affect people in the area, such as air pollution, flooding and levels of deprivation?
    • Movement: Which climate and environmental groups are active in the area, and what other relevant organisations have a presence?

    For each constituency, these three data collections are supplemented by information on the MP’s memberships, voting and activities. Note that you have the choice to see constituencies as they are now, or as they will be after the election when new boundaries come into play.

    Once you’ve dipped into the data, you should be able to shape your campaigns to more effectively speak to the right people about the issues that matter to them.

    We hope you find the Local Intelligence Hub useful. When you’ve had a chance to try it out, please do let us know how you’re using it!

  10. Climate monthnotes: January 2024 and a look back over 2023

    January 2024

    It’s full steam ahead in the mySociety Climate team for January 2024, with two chunky pieces of work occupying much of the team’s attention:

    First, our preparations for a public launch of the Local Intelligence Hub we’ve been building with The Climate Coalition. The Hub brings together data from public sources like government, Parliament, and the ONS, as well as—most excitingly—datasets on climate movement presence and activity from members of The Climate Coalition, to help Coalition members (and soon, members of the public) plan and coordinate action at a parliamentary constituency level. Having soft launched to Climate Coalition members in April last year, we’ll soon be opening up most of the data on the Hub to public access, and we’re looking forward to sharing some examples of how organisations are using it in due course.

    Secondly, Siôn, Alice and I have been putting lots of effort into shaping the next few years’ work on community-led home energy actions via our Neighbourhood Warmth platform. We’re really excited about the prospect of testing Neighbourhood Warmth with retrofit organisations and community groups in 2024, to see how a digital service might be able to facilitate and encourage neighbours and communities to explore home energy actions like retrofit and energy flexibility, together. You can read more about our plans in Siôn’s series of monthnotes from 2023.

    A look back over 2023

    Before I sign off for the month, I wanted to also take a moment to recognise the amazing work my colleagues have done in mySociety’s Climate programme over 2023. Here are a few of the highlights I’m particularly proud of:

    In April 2023, we first soft-launched the Local Intelligence Hub to Climate Coalition members. The feedback was massively encouraging, with users from organisations like Green Alliance and The Wildlife Trusts already excited about how the service could help them plan engagement and advocacy activities in 2024 and beyond. As mentioned above, we’ve since spent much of this year adding more datasets, support for the upcoming 2024/2025 constituencies, and free public access, which will be launching in a few weeks.

    In July, Alex and Julia published our Unlocking Fragmented Data report, in partnership with the Centre for Public Data. While the report isn’t specific to climate data, we used our experience of trying to collect data on local climate action as a case study into how poor interoperability and poor transparency of public data can turn into a major blocker to public action. A few months later, we were encouraged to see many of our Fragmented Data recommendations adopted into Chris Skidmore’s ‘The Future Is Local’ report.

    In September, in part as a recognition of mySociety’s work campaigning for more transparent and democratic climate action, we were accepted into the Blueprint Coalition – an influential group of local government organisations, environmental groups, and research institutions working to join up local climate action in the UK. A few months later, in November, we ran a joint event with Blueprint, exploring how the public sector can make local climate data more useful for everyone.

    October saw the launch of the Council Climate Action Scorecards, in partnership with our long-time collaborators, Climate Emergency UK. This year’s Scorecards represented a step change in complexity over the 2021 Plan Scorecards, and saw us develop “GRACE”, an online system for crowdsourcing data on councils’ climate actions, as well as joining CE UK’s advisory board to shape the methodology for the year, and supporting CE UK volunteers in using WhatDoTheyKnow Projects to gather extra data from every local authority via FOI requests. The Action Scorecards were featured in over 150 national and local news stories around the launch, including an exclusive on the EPC ratings of council-owned social housing, in the Financial Times.

    In early November, we attended Business Green’s Net Zero Festival. Louise delivered a barnstorming talk about how mySociety’s services (including CAPE, Scorecards, WhatDoTheyKnow, and WriteToThem) support public action on Net Zero, and I attended a number of interesting sessions, which I blogged about here.

    A few weeks later, in mid-November, we were back in London for mySociety’s 20th Anniversary awards. Food campaigning group Sustain won our award for best use of mySociety services to accelerate climate action, in recognition of how they’d used CAPE to track local authority action on food emissions. If you couldn’t make it to the anniversary awards, I highly recommend you read Louise’s opening speech about mySociety and the history and future of digital democracy in the UK. I’m not crying, it’s just raining above my desk.

    And finally, in December, Alex blogged a round-up of a number of improvements we’d made to CAPE over the year, including a massive upgrade to the discoverability and searchability of plans in the database, using AI / machine learning. The future is here, and turns out it eats climate PDFs for breakfast.

    Thanks to everyone who’s followed along with our progress over 2023! If you’d like to be kept informed about all these projects, and more, sign up to our climate updates newsletter.

    Image: ANIRUDH