Action on climate change

Action on climate change

Worcestershire County Council declared a climate emergency in July 2021.

We have set a target to be carbon neutral by 2050 and working in partnership to achieve the Worcestershire LEP Energy Strategy aim of halving the county’s carbon emissions by 2030.


We have a long history of action on climate change and are not acting alone - many organisations across the county, the UK and beyond are taking action too. 

We have already made the following progress:

  • cut are own absolute emissions by 40% 
  • reduced our net carbon emissions by 45% since 2009/10
  • countywide carbon emissions have fallen by 36% since 2005

The Council’s Net Zero Carbon Plan is the latest and most ambitious in a series of carbon management plans implemented by the Council over the last 20 years.

How is our climate changing

Climate change

Climate change is a large-scale, long-term shift in the planet’s average temperature and weather caused by greenhouse gases stopping heat from the sun escaping the Earth’s atmosphere.

Greenhouse gases allow sunlight to pass through but prevent the heat from escaping back out into space - similar to glass in a greenhouse, warming the planet as a result. Although there are different types of greenhouse gases, the most prevalent one and the one driving global warming is carbon dioxide. 

Humans are increasing the amount of these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, intensive agricultural practice, producing waste and changing our landscapes. The warming effect that these gases produce is thereby increased.

Impact of climate change on you

Everyone will be impacted by a changing climate. The planet is generally getting hotter, but in some regions and during some seasons it can at times be temporarily cooler. There will be longer seasons in some areas, while others may experience concentrated bursts of extreme weather. Both our natural environment and human health and well-being are impacted by all of these changes.

In Worcestershire, we will have to adapt our way of life to deal with more extreme weather events, hotter and drier summers and wetter and warmer winters. Extreme weather events, like the floods that areas of Worcestershire suffer will only become more frequent if we do not work to combat climate change.

Why must we act now

Carbon dioxide lingers in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, and the planet takes a while to respond. The longer that temperatures are high, the harder it is to reverse the damage. If greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, then by 2070, UK winters are forecasted to be between 0.6 and 3.8°C warmer and up to 39% wetter compared to our climate in 1990.

Net Zero Carbon Plan

Net zero

The term net zero means achieving a balance between the carbon emitted into the atmosphere, and the carbon removed from it. This balance (net zero) will happen when the amount of carbon we add to the atmosphere is no more than the amount removed.

Reaching net zero

In order to reach the goal of becoming net zero, emissions from homes, transport, agriculture and industry will need to be cut. These sectors will have to reduce the amount of carbon they put into the atmosphere.

Our goal

Our goal to reach net zero by 2050 In 2019, the Council agreed to work towards the national target set by Central Government aiming to reduce the Council’s GHG emissions to as near to zero (net zero) as possible by 2050. This is the Council's second Net Zero Carbon Plan which sets out how the Council aims to reach this target.

10 point approach to achieving net zero

The Council’s 10-point approach to achieving net zero carbon emissions: 

  1. ensure Council decisions consider the potential environmental impact of all WCC projects 
  2. seek to reduce the council’s carbon emissions as far and as fast as possible and practical 
  3. offset emissions where necessary, prioritising local approaches to carbon offsetting 
  4. be flexible in its approach 
  5. seek to make council operations zero-carbon ready 
  6. seek to make the most cost-effective measures it can
  7. communicate the challenge of climate change 
  8. share best practice with partners 
  9. continue to play its role in cutting carbon emissions and promoting environmental improvement across the county 
  10. lobby government

How we are doing

Greenhouse gas emissions reports

We understand that the County Council has a larger part to play in reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG) and since 2009/10 we have reduced GHG emissions by 45%.

Read the latest GHG emissions report:  

Worcestershire County Council Greenhouse gas Emissions Report 2022 to 2023 (PDF)

Sustainability West Midlands benchmarking

Sustainability West Midlands (SWM) are an independent sustainability advisor for the leaders of the West Midlands. They produce an annual benchmarking report to assess progress on the 2030 Sustainability Roadmap. 

Worcestershire County Council engage with this process and the SWM benchmarking process has identified improvement in Worcestershire County Council sustainability action for the second year running. Worcestershire County Council use the positive feedback as a stimulus to further improve and build on our successes.

West Midlands Local Authority Sustainability Benchmark 2023

Local Authority Sustainability Benchmark 2023 summary report (PDF)

Climate Emergency UK scorecards

Climate Emergency UK assessed all UK councils on action taken towards net zero since 2019. They use a mixture of FOI requests and publicly available documents for the scoring process and some nationally available data. Worcestershire County Council ranked 12th out of all UK County Councils. 

Worcestershire County Council Climate Action Scorecard | Council Climate Scorecards

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