We published the first ever Council Climate Action Scorecards in October 2023. We understand that the first time anything is done there will be changes that need to be made. So in order to do this process properly we earmarked the start of 2024 to review the methodology for the next iteration of the Council Climate Action Scorecards.

In the first few months of 2024 we held sector wide consultations, inviting council representatives, previous markers and sector experts from across each of our seven sections to give feedback on the methodology and suggest any changes to it.

Below we have covered how we have made these changes and summarised the small number of changes within each section below.

Refreshed Advisory Group

In order to have new eyes on our methodology we invited new people to join our Advisory Group. The Advisory Group plays a key role and includes council staff, councillors and experts within the sector to provide detailed feedback on every question in the methodology and particularly any suggested changes. You can see the new membership of the Advisory Group here.

Updated Draft Methodology for 2025

We are excited to share the updated 2025 draft methodology with you, which can be viewed in full here. Below, we explain more about the changes and why we have made these changes.

Main changes – The Headlines

The headline update to the Scorecards are listed below:

  • Number of questions: There are a total of 93 questions in 2025, compared to 91 in 2023.
    • Please note: The number of questions varies per council type.
  • There are four new questions (one of these questions only applies to Combined Authorities) and one question has been removed.
  • The vast majority of questions stay the same as in 2023.
  • We are asking the same number of Freedom of Information Requests (although we have added one question and removed another)
  • We will be marking climate action from 1st January 2020 up until October 2024

Read on to to find an overview and explanation of the changes by Scorecards section.

Buildings and Heating

The main amendment in this section is to create a new sub-question (Question 4a, with Question 4 becoming 4b), where we are now asking if a council has a costed plan to retrofit all its estate/significant buildings and what the target date is for getting this work completed. This new question sits alongside Question 4b, which asks if a council has a costed plan to retrofit all council/social housing that they directly own or manage. We have retained this question on council housing because it is an important climate action for councils that own these homes. One other change to the criteria is that councils have to own more than 100 homes in order for this question to apply to them. This is to mitigate those councils that only own a few temporary accommodation buildings. 

We have also edited the criteria on the Minimum Energy Efficient Standards enforcement question. The new criteria awards marks for investigations, as well as enforcement actions. This is because we recognise that investigations might be all that is needed to improve EPC ratings of rented accommodation by landlords. 

The other amendments in this section are less significant, such as removing the criteria requiring council building retrofit to have been awarded a specific retrofit standard and changing the retrofit partnership from a medium to a low weighted question. For combined authorities there are no additional edits to the questions, other than the tweaks to the questions mentioned above that apply to combined authorities.


In the Transport section there was a particular difference between urban and rural councils, which we took into account when making changes to the questions. 

The most significant amendment made is to Questions 5a and 5b which focuses on clean air/low-emission zones. Councils that do not score any penalty marks for having high NO2 levels in 25% of their neighbourhoods (Question 12a), will be exempt from this question. This greater nuance will exempt many rural authorities, who would always be very unlikely to introduce a clean air zone.

The other edit we have made is to the question on the electrification of council fleets. We have added in a new criteria tier to continue to challenge councils to electrify their fleets. The second tier criteria will be met if 50% of the council’s fleet is electric. We would also encourage councils to publish in their annual update reports the percentage of their council fleet that is made up of electric vehicles, as well as the total fleet number and total number of electric vehicles.

We have tweaked Question 6 and Question 9 by moving these from “high” weighted questions to “medium”. This was to reflect that a Workplace Parking Levy has only been introduced in 1 council in the UK and Active Travel England scores are not applicable to Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and London councils.
There is one addition in the Combined Authorities Transport section. This is the addition of a question (4c) that asks what percentage of the bus fleet is zero emission. We have three tiers to score points in this question- 10%, 25% and 50%, and follows our investigation into Mayoral Authority bus fleets.

Planning & Land Use

We have made only one scoring change to the Planning & Land Use section. We have tweaked the criteria to Question 2 to exempt councils which do not own or manage council/social housing. This due to the fact that councils that do not own or manage council housing are unlikely to make a commitment to build new council housing to a net zero standard. It also brings this question in line with Question 4b in Buildings & Heating.

We will also no longer be sending an FOI asking about whether council’s have approved a carbon intensive energy system. This will instead be marked by the Drill or Drop database, which captures councils approving new fossil fuel infrastructure.

We have also made clear that we will accept the latest adopted Local Plan, relevant Supplementary Planning Document or Regulation 19 draft Local Plan. We marked Regulation 19 drafts in the 2023 Scorecards, as we recognise the length that it takes to create a new Local Plan, and they demonstrate the council’s most up to date position on its planning policies.

For combined authorities the Planning, Land Use and Biodiversity section has no amendments.

Governance & Finance

Despite Governance being notoriously hard to measure, and the fact that there is not a UK-wide reporting framework for greenhouse gas emissions, it is important that this section is as accurate as it can be. Good climate governance plays a vital role in embedding climate action throughout the council, as well as it being the section with the most questions in the Scorecards. All the amendments below are also replicated for combined authorities – there are no specific changes to any of the questions in this section that only apply to combined authorities.

The main edits in this section have been to clarify the questions, to make it clearer what they are asking and more focused on the most important climate governance actions. For example, we have rewritten Question 2 to focus on whether a council has included climate risks within its Corporate or Strategic Risk Register, as that carries more weight that a standalone climate risk register. Our question on procurement has been split out into two questions so it’s easier to see which councils have a good sustainable procurement policy (Question 6a) and then provide further assessment into the details of the policy (Question 6b). 

Finally, we have tweaked the criteria for the emission reporting questions. We’ve made it possible for councils that were not measuring their operational carbon emissions in 2019 to now be able to score marks in Question 3a, as long as they have 2 years of emission reporting data between, or including, 2019 and 2023. We have kept 2019 as the baseline date from which to measure emission reductions, but have added in additional criteria (higher emission reduction targets) to reflect that emission reductions need to happen at pace year on year, rather than a gentle decline.


We have made only one scoring amendment to the Biodiversity section. We have added a new question (Question 10), asking whether the council has introduced a Green Space Factor (GSF) to increase habitat in new developments. 

The GSF, also known as the Urban Greening Factor, is a planning policy, which sets a target score for the proportion of green infrastructure within a development site. This can include natural (woodland or street trees) or semi-natural vegetation, (soft drainage systems, green roofs and walls). It has most prominently been adopted as part of the London Plan, but has also been adopted in Southampton and Swansea with draft policies coming forward in Exeter and Telford & Wrekin. Moreover, if the policy has only been adopted in a specific area of the local authority, for example, the main market town in a rural authority, this would meet the criteria. More information can be found on Natural England’s website.

We have also added further clarification and tweaked the wording of 3 questions to make sure our questions are clear on what we are asking and what meets the criteria. This does not change the intent of the question or what action would meet the criteria.

Collaboration & Engagement

The main amendment to the Collaboration & Engagement section is that we are adding a new question on employee representation. This question looks at whether there is an ongoing way for employee representative bodies (including trade unions) to influence the development and delivery of the council’s Climate Action Plan. This is to ensure that council employees have a voice in shaping how their council transitions to net zero in a just and fair way, and if there is an established process facilitating this.

The only other update to this section is that we are rolling forward the reference year (from the 1st of Jan 2022, to the 1st of Jan 2023) to ensure the evidence provided for a council’s annual reports (Question 2b), lobbying (Question 3), resident engagement (Question 5a), funding for communities (Question 6) and business support (Question 7) is recent. 

These amendments have been replicated for the Combined Authorities Collaboration & Engagement section as well.

Waste Reduction and Food

Whilst there have been tweaks and clarifications to this section, the vast majority of this section remains the same. The most significant amendments have been made to Question 1a and 1b. 1a has been removed entirely and 1b amended, with both changes made to match changes in UK government legislation. Since we published the first Action Scorecards in October 2023, the UK government has implemented legislation banning the sale and use of some single-use plastic. As Question 1a asked if councils had banned or reduced the use of many of the same single-use plastics, keeping this question would mean every council automatically getting the mark. Question 1b has been amended to remove the second tier criteria, which asked if councils had banned the use of single-use plastic at external events that is already met by UK legislation, but keeps the criteria which asks if the council requires event organisers to provide additional information about their environmental commitments.

Following the roundtable on this section we have switched the weighting of the recycling and residual waste questions around. We have weighted the recycling rate question “low” and the residual waste per household “medium”. This better reflects the reality that an overall reduction in waste produced is more significant than recycling a greater proportion of our waste. 

Now we have published the draft methodology for the 2025 Scorecards we will move on to running the 3 stage process for the Scorecards, starting with the First Mark in August 2024. If you would like to get involved in the scoring process fill out this volunteer registration form.

Finally, once we have completed the 3 stage marking process, the Action Scorecards will be published in Summer 2025. If you would like to view the full timeline for the Action Scorecards you can do so here.