Stewart Pickering
March 9, 2023
Reading time:
16 min

Climate action is the central tenet of our Sustainability pod, and we’re seeing increasing interest from both the public and private sectors in the best way to capture, measure and display key information on progress to a range of stakeholders. One such tool is the climate action dashboard.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to climate action, be it on a local, national or international level. That’s why many organisations have turned to climate action dashboards – powerful, data-driven tools that provide real-time insights into climate actions taken by different stakeholders such as governments, businesses and intergovernmental organisations. By combining a variety of data sources into interactive visualisations, these dashboards are helping to move the needle on local climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. 

In this article, we delve into climate action dashboards, what they are and why they’re so valuable, as well as some examples of existing dashboards from infogr8 projects and elsewhere.

A snapshot of our Climate Action prototype for local authorities in the UK.

What are climate action dashboards, exactly?

Climate action dashboards are interactive data visualisations that provide a snapshot of climate-related activities across different stakeholders. They take a wide variety of data sources – from carbon emissions and energy usage to renewable energy sources and clean air quality – and present information in an easy-to-grasp format, making data more accessible and understandable to all. 

By providing real-time insights into climate activities, dashboards can help organisations identify areas for improvement and track progress towards their goals – reaching net zero being a prime example. 

Climate action dashboards also allow users to compare their own performance against others, giving them the opportunity to learn from each other’s successes and failures. By making data more accessible and understandable, these tools are helping to drive progress on global climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. 

In our pod’s first FutureFridays initiative, we’re working alongside Dedlyne on creating a performance tracker for UK local authorities in relation to their net-zero targets. Stay tuned for more news as we work towards finalising our prototype over the coming weeks.

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How can climate action dashboards be of value to local authorities?

For local authorities, climate action dashboards are becoming increasingly popular as they offer a quick-fire, data-driven means to track progress, guide strategic decision-making and policy, and encourage residents to take part in relevant community initiatives.

As an example, our pioneering climate action dashboard for the City of London Corporation tracks 52 key indicators on climate action, including:

  • Reducing emissions operationally (Scopes 1 and 2) and in the wider value chain (Scope 3)
  • Carbon removals and land management
  • Renewables infrastructure and retrofitting existing buildings
  • Housing and commercial properties
  • Transportation, air quality and noise
  • Training and development for local businesses and SMEs
  • Stakeholder engagement and impact assessment
  • Developing climate resilience

Taken together, residents, committee members and business leaders can track their local authority’s pursuit of hitting net-zero emissions by 2027.

The City of London Corporation is itself unique in that it’s the governing body of the Square Mile, just over one square mile in the heart of the capital’s financial district, with its own government and Lord Mayor. It is responsible for around 8,000 residents, as well as other assets across London including green spaces, housing and schools. 

City of London is one of around 85% of UK local authorities to have declared a climate emergency and adopted climate action plans, most recently the City of London Climate Action Strategy for 2020-2027. Delivery towards this started in 2021, with action plans and reports on progress annually. 

What are the benefits of deploying a climate action dashboard?

Climate action dashboards are a great tool for individuals, organisations and governments to track their progress towards sustainability goals. These interactive data visualisations provide a more approachable overview of environmental activities, allowing policy-makers to identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions on how to reduce their environmental impact. 

By utilising climate action dashboards, local-level decision-makers can make informed decisions on how to reduce their carbon footprint and take meaningful steps towards sustainability in the communities they serve. 

Here are some of the key benefits associated with this type of project at the local-authority level:

 1. Improved carbon footprint measurement and reporting

Climate change is an urgent and pressing challenge that requires the effective, efficient and accurate measurement of carbon footprints.

At present, the Local Government Association states that only 54% of local authorities are reporting on their Scope 3 emissions, and only 33% on their local area. This is despite the estimation that Scope 3 makes up between 70% and 80% of a local authority’s total emissions.

Improved carbon footprint measurement and reporting are essential to helping people, organisations and governments understand their current environmental impact and make informed decisions on how to reduce it. 

With improved data collection methods and better access to more reliable carbon emissions data, local-authority decision-makers can accurately track the progress of their climate action initiatives. Improved carbon footprint measurement and reporting can also lead to more effective policies for reducing emissions levels in different cities, towns or regions.

A hypothetical example: A local authority is starting to improve their sustainability data collection, analysis and reporting so that it encompasses the full scope of their emission-related activities (Scope 3 included). A climate action dashboard can support local-authority decision-makers to fully grasp the extent of their total carbon footprint.

A real-world example: The City of London Corporation has created the Purchased Goods and Services Programme to collaborate with their suppliers on providing more sustainable services across the authority’s supply chain.

2. Increased transparency and accountability in climate policy implementation

By bringing clarity, transparency and accountability to the climate action table, these dashboard tools make it easier to hold those in power at the local level accountable for their efforts towards combating climate change. 

Climate action dashboards also allow people to track progress over time, ensuring accountability for all those involved in the process. This helps create a culture of responsibility and encourages individuals, organisations and local authorities to take meaningful steps towards hitting their specific climate action target.

Another related benefit to this is enhancing relationships between local authorities and local business owners. Armed with clear and accessible data on the local authority’s energy use, and buoyed by sustainability success stories from the local business community, other business owners are likelier to reach out to see how they can collaborate with the local authority to improve their own energy performance and to discover what new and upcoming initiatives they are able to tap into.

3. Access to actionable data for informed decision-making

Earlier this month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres referenced the Oscar-winning movie Everything, Everywhere, All at Once in summing up what needs to be done around climate action. We believe that climate action dashboards offer decision-makers the chance to see everything together, from everyone, all in one place. 

Climate action dashboards provide the necessary insights and context needed to make more effective climate policies and interventions. Armed with the right data, local authorities can then target those areas in need of improvement, identify potential opportunities for growth, and develop innovative solutions that support their long-term goals.

For example, if a local authority can see that transport is making good progress towards its sustainability goals, but energy performance is not, the decision-makers may seek to move forward with increasing the use of renewable energy within their buildings. In this way, the climate action dashboard provides high-level but actionable strategic insight in a single view.

4. Facilitating cross-sector collaboration and coordination

Collaboration and coordination across sectors is essential to making meaningful progress on climate action. By using these dashboard tools, stakeholders can access data from multiple sources and share information in real-time, enabling them to quickly identify areas of opportunity and develop cross-sector initiatives. This helps facilitate collaboration between government agencies, industry experts, local communities, and other key players in the pursuit of sustainability.

Let’s say that one local-authority department is doing less well on its progress towards net zero. The dashboard gives them the opportunity to see how other departments are doing and to then ask for advice, share lessons learned, and identify opportunities to collaborate on joint initiatives.

Here’s a working example: The Transport department releases a plan to increase public access to their EV charging points, as well as the efficiency of the charging stations themselves. The Waste team then reviews this information and the data on the plan’s success and reaches out to collaborate with Transport on vehicle fleet options for bin collection.

Or perhaps a particular council building runs an initiative with a local business to convert office building waste into a reusable by-product. Other council members would then be able to see this on the dashboard, review the performance data, and get in touch to see whether their buildings could do the same. 

5. Enhancing public engagement on climate change solutions

Public engagement is an essential part of finding viable solutions to climate change and gauging their practicality and success. Climate action dashboards provide a platform for citizens to become involved in the process and make their voices heard. 

Through these dashboards, individuals can access the data that is most relevant to them and share their own insights with their local authorities. Examples range from liaising with the community on a new proposed cycle route, or more effective street lighting for those walking home alone. This helps create a dialogue between different sectors and enables citizens to stay informed about current initiatives and progress made on climate change.

Ultimately, climate action dashboards allow local residents to explore potential solutions and have meaningful conversations about how to address the environmental challenges that matter most to them. This encourages greater public participation in decision-making processes and offers citizens the opportunity to make an impact on climate change efforts in their own communities. With increased public engagement, collaboration between different sectors becomes even more effective – opening up new avenues for tackling local sustainability challenges at source.

Climate action dashboards can also signpost members of the public or local business owners to useful resources and schemes in support of the sustainability effort. For example, the City of London Corporation offers a free, tailored programme to help SMEs based in the Square Mile to develop plans to reach net zero.

What about the private sector?

Beyond the public sector, climate action dashboards are also on the rise among private companies seeking to track progress towards their own sustainability goals. 

Many of these companies have implemented their own custom dashboards that provide a detailed overview of their energy usage, emissions levels, and renewable energy sources. These private sector dashboards also often include additional features such as interactive maps, forecasting tools, and time-series analyses. 

For example, Microsoft Azure has developed a dashboard tailored to its cloud computing business that allows customers to visualise the energy efficiency of their operations at various geographic locations.

How can we get involved?

At infogr8, we recently launched FutureFridays, where we give over our working Fridays to tackling the most important issues affecting data in Sustainability, EdTech and Healthcare. 

For the Sustainability pod, our first FutureFridays initiative is all about creating a best-in-class climate action dashboard. Get in touch with us to find out more about how you can get involved in testing what we’ve built.

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