Learnings from the Green Communities Network

How to: deliver climate action in partnership with councils 

Local authorities are great partners for community groups looking to deliver inclusive climate action. 

Projects such as getting people cycling, reducing waste or lowering energy bills fit well with council priorities. And many authorities are eager to find organisations that can help them engage with residents. 

Working with councils isn’t always easy – but they can be a great source of resources, expertise and opportunities. Here’s our advice on partnering with councils, and making the most of your relationship.

1. Get to know your local council - from top to bottom

  • Councils come in many shapes and sizesoften, different authorities are responsible for different services in the same area. Use this guide to understand more. 
  • Authorities include elected councillors who make high-level decisions, and council officers who implement them. Think about how you can engage both groups. 
  • Find your allies – does your local council have a climate change team or department, or sustainability officers? Or any councillors who have spoken up on climate issues in the past? Climate Emergency UK have some great advice on how to find out who sits on your council’s environment committee or acts as the cabinet lead for climate action,  as well as what to say to them.  

2. Plan for success

  • Get to grips with your councils climate strategies – whether that’s a dedicated climate action plan, or its plans for housing, health, green spaces, and other relevant topics. Use My Society’s tool to find out what pledges, commitments and policies your local authority has published. You can also see how your council’s climate action performs in comparison to action taken by other councils across the UK.
  • Encourage your local authority to declare a climate emergency, if it hasn’t already, and make a commitment tackle the issue. My Society’s tool will also tell you whether your council has declared a climate emergency or not.

3. Show how you can help them

  • Councils are often over-stretched and under-funded – how can your group help the council deliver its objectives? Maybe by supplying enthusiastic volunteers for community projects, or working together on projects that boost health, tackle fuel poverty, or restore nature? 
  • Think about the strengths of your own organisation – and whether you can support existing council projects, or ‘plug the gaps’ with new initiatives. Will it help meet the council’s legal obligations? 


  • For councils, resident engagement is often a big benefit of working with community groups. Tell your council how you can help it connect with diverse groups of local people, and be a ‘trusted face’ in any council scheme.  


  • You can also help inspire and excite local people about the benefits of climate action, showing your authority why it should make climate a priority. This might involve creating a vision of your area’s green future, or creating fun events like cycling days for the whole community. 

4. Four tools you need when working with councils

  1. Read this guide to make sure you understand how loval government works 
  2. Use Friends of the Earth’s ‘near you tool’ to find local council climate schemes. Could you collaborate on these?
  3. Hope for the Future provide free training and support on how to communicate with your councillor. Fill out their form here to get their support with your council engagements.
  4. Get inspiration from these examples of council climate innovation. Could you work with your local authority on projects like these?

Collaboration in action

See how Enfield Council and Thames21 are working together to restore rivers, create new ponds and wetlands, and protect communities from extreme weather.

More resources for community groups:

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