Here’s how journalists can use CAPE to investigate and monitor council action on climate, at the local level and across the UK.

Whether you work for a regional outlet or a big media empire, a hyperlocal site or a citizen newsroom: you’ll find this website useful in your role of holding our elected representatives to account and letting the public know the facts behind the push to Net Zero.

We’ve made it simple

CAPE gathers together every Climate Action Plan from every UK council, so they can be compared and searched.

Scrutinise the data to discover stories large and small about how councils are squaring up to the radical changes we know the country must make.

  • Search for any keyword or phrase to see who’s included it in their plans
  • Understand how many councils have made plans already
  • Dig into the details to compare and contrast different councils’ plans
  • Compare councils with similar qualities, like how rural or urban they are, how densely their populations are distributed, or the main industries they rely on.
  • See headline promises from each plan

How journalists can use the Action Plans Explorer

  • Create national stories: search for specific keywords or terms and see how ideas or technologies are being taken up in different regions.
  • Assess the picture across the UK: which councils are ambitious and progressive; which are scant on detail — and which don’t even have a plan?
  • Generate regional stories: locate the plans of local council/s, and compare them with what other councils are doing.
  • Set up longterm investigations: look into which councils are — and aren’t —  living up to the plans and promises set out in their Climate Action Plans.
  • Include the site in top tens and ‘listicles’: Include the tool in lists of positive climate actions readers can take: everyone can search for their local Climate Action Plan, and (whether they find one or not) get in touch with their council to discuss progress.

Sign up to mySociety’s mailing list and we’ll keep you updated when we add new features to help you cover councils’ journey to net zero.

Why local councils?

“Politics as usual won’t cut it this time: there’s a climate emergency and it’s down to us to make sure our elected representatives know what we expect from them.”

30% of progress towards net zero is within the scope of influence of local authorities and this is an area where you can make real change by highlighting what the most ambitious councils are doing, and pointing at those that are falling short.

78% local authorities (at the time of writing) have published a Climate Action Plan, committing to the tasks that will help them achieve net zero for their area.

Is yours one of them? Check here

These plans vary wildly: some are very detailed; others are vague. Some focus only on the councils’ own emissions; others take into account the wider impact of local businesses, planning, land and everything the council can have some effect over. Some include crucial factors such as a calculation of the current carbon footprint; others do not. And almost a quarter of councils have not yet created an action plan at all.

Why you?

Climate Action Plans Explorer inner page (Thurrock)Your news stories will help shape the public discourse, normalising the idea that it’s everyone’s job to push their politicians to work faster, more ambitiously and more effectively to cut carbon emissions.

Some councils may not yet have grasped the urgency with which they have to act, or they may not know that they have a mandate to make the radical changes required. On the other side, some may have really progressive plans they’re trying to push through and they need public support.

People will only fully understand the wider picture if the media help break it down into easily digestible pieces. As a journalist, you’re an expert in taking complex data and forging it into a readable story — well, here’s the data, now do your stuff!

Photo: Daniel Thomas