Co-authored by (Helena Fazeli, Senior Engagement Officer, CDP) & Isaac Beevor (Partnerships Director, Climate Emergency UK)


Local governments play a pivotal role in enacting meaningful climate action.1 Among other actions, they are key to making sure new homes are net-zero, and retrofitting buildings. Both CDP-ICLEI Track, the world’s leading reporting portal for local governments, and Climate Emergency UK’s (CE UK) Council Climate Action Scorecards stem from a shared vision and purpose: to serve as tools for encouraging transparency and driving local government action on climate change. In this blog, we present the two mechanisms and outline our shared vision of the key steps needed from local authorities and national government to accelerate local climate action.

If you would like to schedule an introduction call to find out more about CDP reporting, please contact us at To learn more about the Scorecards, and how they can be used by your council or community group, you can reach the CE UK team at

Two mechanisms for assessing local climate action:

CDP: A global reporting mechanism

CDP is a not-for-profit charity that runs the global environmental disclosure system for investors, companies, local governments, states and regions. In 2023, over 1,200 local governments globally reported through CDP’s online reporting portal, CDP-ICLEI Track, including 68 UK local authorities.These local authorities represent 31% of UK emissions (scope 1 and 2), 45% of the UK population and 59% of the UK’s GDP. 

CDP’s questionnaire is aligned with global frameworks, such as the Global Covenant of Mayors’ (GCoM) Common Reporting Framework, the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures’ (TCFD) recommendations, and the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also serves as a benchmarking tool for networks of local governments globally including GCoM, ICLEI, and the UNFCCC High Level Champions’ Cities Race to Zero and Cities Race to Resilience campaigns, allowing local governments to meet various reporting requirements through one streamlined questionnaire. 

Reporting through CDP-ICLEI Track is voluntary, and involves self-reporting a mixture of quantitative and qualitative environmental data. CDP’s cities questionnaire covers a broad range of environmental and climate topics including governance, collaboration, equity and inclusion, baseline data such as climate hazards and emissions, adaptation goals, mitigation targets, planning, and actions. By responding to the questionnaire, local authorities go through an awareness-raising exercise, identifying strengths and areas for improvement as they work towards their climate goals.

CDP’s scoring methodology is designed to help improve data quality and incentivise local authorities’ transitions towards resilience and net zero through equitable environmental action. Local authorities are scored ‘A’ to ‘D’ – based on completeness, the quality of their data, and the level, or ambition, of action taken. Scores below ‘A’ remain private to local authorities and can be used to benchmark their progress and identify areas to improve on. CDP recognises leadership in climate action by highlighting those that receive an A score through an international media campaign.

CE UK: A UK-focused comprehensive assessment

CE UK’s Scorecards provide a UK specific assessment, evaluating the actions taken by local authorities to tackle the climate and ecological emergency. The Scorecards assess whether councils have taken 91 actions across the 7 different sections defined in the methodology. The 7 sections are Buildings & Heating, Transport, Governance & Finance, Planning & Land Use, Collaboration & Engagement, Biodiversity and Waste Reduction & Food. 

CE UK’s 3-stage marking process is one of the biggest climate citizen data projects in the UK. Over 200 trained volunteers are involved in crowdsourcing data in the First Mark, totalling over 5,000 hours of volunteer research for this stage alone. Councils are then offered a Right of Reply, where they can scrutinise the data, challenge the First Mark and provide further information. In 2023, 74% of UK councils took part in this process. Finally, a smaller group of experienced volunteers and staff award the final marks in the Audit, reviewing all the evidence available. 

This 3-stage process helps to increase the accuracy and consistency of marking. This inclusive process is also aimed at empowering volunteers who are encouraged to continue using the knowledge they have gained to support climate action in their local area.  

Benefits of the two approaches

  • CE UK:
    • Allows for comparison between similar councils, enabling local authorities to see their strengths and who they should look to for best practice in weaker areas. 
    • Local authorities are included by default, meaning that they receive feedback on their climate action no matter their level of capacity to engage with the Scorecards process.
  • CDP:
    • A globally-recognised environmental reporting mechanism, aligned with international and regional campaigns, which allows local authorities to report once for multiple networks and initiatives.
    • An opportunity for local authorities to take a deep dive into their data and metrics, and receive a score and feedback highlighting areas for tangible improvement. 

Our shared vision:

CDP and Climate Emergency UK share a common vision and belief in the power of local government to drive local climate action forward, which includes:

Public reporting 

Local authorities should continue prioritising transparency and accountability through annual reporting of their actions and emissions, aiming for excellence in both CDP reporting and the CE UK’s Scorecards. All public responses from CDP-ICLEI Track  are accessible through CDP’s Open Data Portal or through the response search tool  while the data from the Action Scorecards can be accessed on the Scorecards website. We encourage local authorities to use this to gain insights into the practices of other councils, and to share best practices and solutions to common challenges.  

A people-centred and collaborative approach

Both mechanisms encourage local authorities to think holistically about their environmental action, in line with the SDGs. Equity, inclusion and collaboration feature strongly in CDP’s engagement with local governments. Local authorities are asked to report how they assess the social and economic opportunities and benefits of climate action, and are assessed on their consideration of the impacts of climate change on vulnerable population groups and engaging local stakeholders in their climate action plans. 

The Scorecards methodology was created after consultation across the climate sector, speaking to 90 individuals and organisations, with councillors and officers engaged in the creation of every section. An Advisory Group, which represents the local climate sector also oversaw the creation of every question. The same collaborative and consultative approach has been followed for the 2025 methodology update. The Scorecards also include questions that encourage councils to take a people-centred and collaborative approach, such as making sure to engage with health bodies, young people, businesses and the wider local community in creating new climate policy and initiatives.

An enabling environment and clear direction set by national government

We urge the UK Government to enable local climate action by providing increased funding and support, clear political commitment to a direction that empowers local authorities in their contributions to the UK’s net zero journey, and resilience goals. Specifically, we advocate for area-wide climate action to become a fully-funded statutory duty for all UK local authorities, building on the model implemented in Scotland. Moreover, we recommend that the UK government streamline the funding landscape for local climate action, ensuring the availability of long-term funding through a non-competitive process, such as the grant system established by Active Travel England. 

For further insights, recommendations and resources, please see: 

  1.  Skidmore, C. (2023) Mission Zero: Independent Review of Net Zero. Available at: ↩︎