Why Waltham Forest got a zero on its ‘climate plan scorecard’

Waltham Forest is one of 84 local authorities to not have a published climate action plan
By Victoria Munro

Waltham Forest Council has received a zero on its “climate plan scorecard” for failing to publish a formal plan almost three years after declaring a climate emergency.

The council is one of 84 in the UK that had no published plan as of last September, according to volunteer-led data project Climate Emergency UK.

Climate Emergency UK’s 120 trained volunteers have assessed and scored hundreds of climate plans across the UK, automatically giving councils with no plan a zero.

However, the council aims to finally publish its plan in spring this year and, deputy leader Clyde Loakes argues, it is “already leading the way in tackling the climate emergency”.

He said: “We invite Climate Emergency UK to visit us and find out what we are doing in practice, rather than undertaking a remote desktop exercise of often dusty and little referenced glossy plans. As the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

“Waltham Forest was one of the first councils in the UK to declare a Climate Emergency in April 2019 and nearly five times as many of our residents perceive us as taking significant action on climate change compared to the national average.”

In 2019, the borough had the tenth lowest emissions in London, having almost halved emission levels since 2005.

Describing the council’s green achievements, Cllr Loakes said: “[We have] been leading the way for some eight years now, both nationally and internationally, in re-designing streets so that it is more enjoyable and convenient for more people to walk and cycle safely.

“Half of the borough’s CO2 emissions come from residential buildings and we have ambitious plans to facilitate the retrofitting of thousands of Waltham Forest’s oldest, least energy efficient homes, most of which are privately owned.

“We are also putting our young people at the heart of the response to the climate emergency. Our unique Suntrap facility has undergone a multi-million-pound refurbishment to become a model of sustainability and will deliver a curriculum to tackle climate change – the first of its kind in London.”

The Climate Emergency UK website acknowledges it has only assessed plans so far and says it will move on to reviewing actions taken next year, describing the scorecards as “just the start of the process”.