Concerns about potential ‘greenwashing’ and ‘complacency’ at the council in tackling the climate crisis have been raised by a councillor amid glowing reports on action taken in Reading.

Green Party councillor David McElroy said Reading Borough Council (RBC) risks “greenwashing” and “complacency” in tackling climate crisis by promoting its successes too much.

At the council meeting last Tuesday (November 16), councillor Tony Page, RBC’s lead member for Environment said to “watch out” for an embargoed news release on Thursday which would recognise Reading’s climate achievements but added “we still have much to do”.

READ MORE: Reading council leader on cutting carbon footprint by nearly 70 per cent

Two days later (on Thursday, November 18), RBC was named as one of just 11 local authority areas in the UK – and one of just 95 in the world – to have made the ‘A list’ of towns and cities taking the lead on environmental action and transparency.

Cllr McElroy had raised concerns during a discussion of a climate change report from the Reading Climate Change Partnership.

The climate change report found Reading’s carbon footprint has been cut by almost 50 per cent from 2005-2019, putting the town in the top five across the UK for reducing emissions.

READ MORE: Reading carbon footprint cut by almost 50 per cent

The report also points out that the two per cent drop in emissions from 2019-2020 would need to double for Reading to meet its 2030 net carbon zero target and Cllr McElroy said this is the “main take-home message”.

Cllr McElroy said his main concern is that the report points out more positives than “the countless failures” and “risks greenwashing” but said he recognised Reading “has been very ambitious compared to what others are doing”.

He said: “My main fear is that this sort of approach risks complacency which obviously we don’t want. We don’t want to give the impression that everything is in hand and on the way to being resolved, which it is not.”

While he praised the council for the work it has done “within its narrow scope”, he said it “needs to take much stronger advocacy role to be an agent for change”.

RBC head of climate strategy Peter Moore said getting the balance right between highlighting positives and challenges is difficult, while Cllr Page rejected “any suggestion the council is guilty of greenwashing”.

Cllr Page said the council is transparent about the issues, “committed to leading by example” and “not complacent”.