Reading’s climate change performance is “poor” compared to other areas, according to a report by Friends of the Earth.

The environmental organisation’s report, which compares councils to other similar local authorities, has ranked Reading in the bottom 40 councils in England and Wales.

Friend of the Earth say Reading’s performance is poor compared to similar local authority areas.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) disagree and point to local government figures which put it well ahead of Bristol – which Friends of the Earth rate highly in its report.

The council declared a climate emergency in February, committing it to “playing as full a role as possible” to reduce carbon emissions in Reading to zero by 2030.

The Friends of the Earth report states: “All local authorities need to do much more if climate catastrophe is to be averted”.

“Reading particularly needs to do much better on increasing the use of public transport, cycling, and walking, improving home insulation, and increasing tree cover”.

The report scores councils on:

  • Household energy efficiency
  • Eco-heating
  • renewable energy
  • Proportion using public transport, cycling or walking
  • Electric vehicle chargers
  • Lift-sharing
  • Tree cover
  • Reuse, recycling and composting of household waste.

What has the council done to tackle climate change since declaring a climate emergency?

The council launched “its biggest ever” transport consultation in July, with a focus on tackling congestion and poor air quality by creating more sustainable travel choices.

It also launched a campaign aimed at improving its recycling rate from 32 per cent to 50 per cent, including the introduction of a new weekly food waste collection service from next autumn.

RBC’s new Local Plan was approved this week and states all future developments of 10 homes or more must be zero carbon.

The council also recently committed to purchase energy from 100 per cent renewable energy sources.

A council spokesman said: “The most comprehensive data set which exists on cutting carbon emissions is the government’s and it shows RBC is in the top five per cent performing local authorities in Britain.

“The clearest metric for measuring performance in tackling climate change is the reduction in per capita of carbon emissions. 

“In Reading, we have reduced ours by 50 per cent since 2005. 

“When ranked against other UK local authorities, Reading is the 9th best performer of over 400. 

“This compares favourably with Bristol, for example, where per capita carbon emissions have reduced by 45 per cent, ranking it 51st in the UK. 

“We know there is much more to do and are fully aware of the challenges which exist in a busy, successful and largely urban area like Reading.

“However – as acknowledged by Friends of the Earth – the government also needs to provide councils with the powers and resources to achieve the scale of change needed.

“Reducing the impact on the environment is now a key theme running through all of the council’s work.

“The council welcomes any report from campaigning organisations which help to raise the profile of action on climate change.”