Parish and Town Councils – resources for responding to the
Climate Change Emergency
A growing number of Parish and Town Councils have declared a Climate Emergency.
By declaring a Climate Emergency, the importance of Climate Change is acknowledged within a community. To date, over 300 local authorities across the United Kingdom have declared a Climate Emergency, highlighting the urgency needed to decarbonise, adapt and reach net zero.
We have compiled a list of useful advice and support to support Parish and Town Councils across Telford & Wrekin in declaring a climate emergency, decarbonising, adapting to Climate Change and creating their own action plans.
Key first steps
A key first step for a parish council seeking to take action would be to declare a climate emergency, to enable the development of local actions, to make climate change a parish council priority and set up a working group to discuss ideas and initiatives. We would suggest you:
- Use the words ‘climate emergency’
- Set a target date to reduce local climate impacts
- Provide a working group to report within a short timescale on immediate and longer term actions to be taken
- Plan to engage with a cross section of the community.
There are a number of actions outlined below that can be taken to reduce the carbon footprints of activities and infrastructure directly controlled by parish councils, relating to parks and recreation areas, public buildings and facilities and services. These actions can be aligned with the neighbourhood planning process. Making this happen will require innovation and coordination across a number of themes. ‘Business as usual’ will not deliver the urgent and decisive action needed to tackle the climate emergency.
Actions to Consider
- Save Energy – energy efficiency is the critical starting point and is commonly the most cost-effective way of reducing costs and carbon emissions. Consider a review of community buildings energy use; explore a green energy tariff and lowest carbon where not possible. Upgrade lighting to LED.
- Renewable Energy – propose sites for renewable energy generation including PV solar or wind turbines (through the Neighbourhood Development Plan).
- Street lighting - changing any street lights that you are responsible for to LED.
- Manage land to enhance nature – designate sites for tree planting, nature conservation such as community tree planting scheme to lock up carbon, encourage biodiversity and grow food.
- Raise awareness about sustainable travel choices, actively encourage safe walking, sign-post cycling routes and support electric car charging facilities and promote car share schemes.
- Minimise waste – encourage the setting up of a Share & Repair Café scheme – finding someone and somewhere that will repair a broken item is a core to a sustainable lifestyle. The Repair Cafe Foundation aims to help local repair volunteers’ use and share their skills for the benefit of their local community.
- Encourage the buying of local and seasonal food in the high street. Carry out promotional activities to advertise greener shopping.
- Carry out promotional activities and events to raise environmental awareness and encourage participation through greener personal choices and organised action.
- Promote less single use plastics, for example through the national campaign Refill. Telford & Wrekin Council has established a community group to help the borough became a certified Plastic Free Community and we encourage town and parish councils to get involved (please email email@example.com for further details).
- Ensure the Parish Council’s activities and procurement minimises the carbon footprint of the PC and the community.
Parish and Town Council Buildings
Parish councils can use their own buildings and land to develop local, clean energy projects. Although parish councils are unlikely to have direct funds to cover renewable energy projects, other sources of funding can be accessed such as Salix loans, grants or a community share offer, details are listed under Funding Opportunities.
Parish and Town Churches
Climate Stewards have developed a web-based tool called 360 degree carbon to enable churches to measure their carbon footprint from different activities, including energy, travel, food, waste and water. See details here
- Friends of the Earth – 20 actions for Parish and Town Councils
- Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) Sustainable Neighbourhood Planning Support CSE is offering free, hands-on, tailored support and advice and assistance for neighbourhood planning groups.
- Parish Carbon Footprinting Tool
- National Association of Local Councils
If you have any comments or questions please email: Sustainability@telford.gov.uk