At a glance

Democratic Society, Shared Future, UK100, Climate Outreach
November 2021 - November 2023
Project Type: 

Avoiding the worst effects of climate change will be the biggest challenge in human history. Local authorities and partnerships will play a key role both in getting the UK to net zero and ensuring their areas are ready for changing conditions. To do this in a way that is effective and fair, they will need to engage the public. That’s why we and others developed Local Climate Engagement (LCE) - a new programme that uses a combination of training, mentoring, peer-learning and hands-on support to assist local authorities in engaging their local communities. 

What role do local authorities have in tackling climate change?

The importance of local authorities’ role in tackling climate change is unarguable. Research produced for the Climate Change Committee shows that one-third of all UK greenhouse gas emissions are dependent on sectors influenced by local government policies or partnerships. Local authorities across the country have already shown bold leadership by setting Net Zero targets that are years ahead of national legislation.

The public too see local authority action as vital. Ipsos Mori polling commissioned by UK100 found that 40% of people believe that their local council is best placed to tackle climate change in their local area, compared to 30% for the Government and 19% for the individual. Climate Assembly UK members also backed locally-determined strategies, to allow for solutions better-suited to local communities.

Why should local authorities engage the public in climate decision-making?

As their work on climate change grows, many local authorities have moved beyond traditional consultation methods to engage their local populations. Up and down the UK, we now see local authorities using a diverse range of techniques, from citizens’ juries and assemblies, to crowdsourcing and community conversations.

Engaging the public in their climate decision-making in these ways enables local authorities to build a deeper understanding of local preferences, aspirations and needs. This supports the development of policy that is more likely to achieve public buy-in. It also allows local authorities to reach beyond those they most often hear from. This builds trust and is a key step in achieving a fair transition to Net Zero.

For local authorities, engaging the public in climate decision-making is not, however, without risks.  For example, commissioning public engagement before there is clarity of focus and a plan for how it will feed into decision-making can limit its impact at best and frustrate communities at its worst. Local Climate Engagement (LCE) aims to help tackle these and other challenges, and to support robust engagement plans.

How can taking part in LCE help?

LCE enables local authorities and partnerships to plan, commission and deliver high quality public engagement in their climate decision-making, in a way that benefits both them and their local population. Developed by Involve and four partner organisations - Democratic Society, Shared Future, UK100 and Climate Outreach - it provides local authorities with a package of training, mentoring and hands-on support.

Local authorities and partnerships in England can join two groups: 

  • The Coaching Group: Local authorities who join the Coaching Group will develop their capability and confidence in planning, commissioning and overseeing public engagement in climate decision-making. The programme content includes training for council officers, draw-down mentoring time, and peer learning sessions.  
  •  The Project Group: Local authorities who join the Project Group will work with us to deliver a high quality piece of local public engagement in climate decision-making, and start to embed the approaches and skills needed for future participation work. The programme content includes training for council officers, up to £45,000 of the partner organisations’ time (pro-bono) to support each local authority to plan and deliver a piece of public engagement work, and peer learning sessions. 

Finding out more

Local authorities or partnerships who want to find out more can access the programme prospectus, FAQs and Expression of Interest form below. Together these documents contain full details of the programme including its content, timescales, and eligibility.

Interested local authorities should return the Expression of Interest form by the end of Monday 24 January 2022. Details of who to send it to are included in the prospectus.

For any questions, please contact