Stewart Pickering
October 18, 2023
Reading time:
5 min

We’ve partnered with dedlyne to create a new visual tool to simplify how UK local authorities communicate their progress on net zero targets.

Visually tracking net zero progress in UK local authorities

Analysing performance trend data, rather than promises or plans, and expressing results in a simple Red-Amber-Green dial, the interactive dedlynetracker communicates when each of the UK’s 374 local authorities is projected to hit net zero, and how that stacks up against the UK’s overall target of 2050.

Based on the latest UK government data (from the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero for the period 2017 to 2021), only 10% of local authorities are on track to deliver on time, and the UK overall is currently projected to meet net zero by 2062. Of the 374 local authorities, 59 are projected not to hit net zero this century, with 11 of those needing to reverse trends to project a date.

The new visual tool is intended to provide council chambers, local constituents and suppliers with the insights they need around local-level initiatives, and to remove the layers of complexity surrounding net zero. It focuses on potential outcomes, translating standard percentage reductions and increases into ‘dates’, speeding up understanding of what has been achieved.

Here’s dedlyne founder Huw Bunn on the importance of net zero tracking:

“When an organisation reports carbon reductions of 15% or 20,000 tonnes it sounds great, but what does it really mean? Using trend data and projecting attainment dates of Net Zero in a visual format allows a far better framing of current performance, our progress meeting targets, and the behaviour required to accelerate action.”

And here’s our GM Sustainability Stewart Pickering:

“A date-led tracker is a measure that everyone can understand. We need a simpler way to communicate progress AND to show quickly to people at all levels of data literacy what still needs to be done, by when, by which local authority.

“The numbers-based language typically used around climate change analysis speaks to those already engaged. A more visual approach, using a language of sustainability that is instantly familiar and understandable, reaches beyond the converted.”

Highlighting the intention-action gap around net zero

“The way we talk about climate change will make a difference to how others act.”
Lord Deben, former Chair of Climate Change Committee, APPG Net Zero Busting Report 2023

The dedlynetracker highlights the significance of the intention-action gap between local authority ambitions and when they are projected to meet targets, with an average gap between commitment and performance of 30 years, based on 2017-21 analysis.

For council officers in climate change, planning and procurement, delivering on net zero is becoming a greater responsibility, and becoming more time-consuming, an issue the tracker resolves by outlining performance in the six areas of emissions reported by the government: commercial energy, domestic energy, industry/manufacturing, agriculture, public section, and transport.

The time for action is now. As Huw at dedlyne says, “Though it may not seem it, there is plenty of money around to fund a Carbon Transition. Time, however, is a far scarcer resource, and our projected dates are a reminder of the urgent need to act now to remain within the capabilities of the planet to sustain us”.

Net zero tracking with impact

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