17 Mar How community projects in the UK can support climate action
A study by the IPPR thinktank believes that community projects with a primary objective of reducing poverty and improving the quality of lives were also having a benefit on reducing emissions and protecting nature. The Thinktank is now calling for further support for local community initiatives ranging from heating to flood schemes.
Communities across the nation are tackling the climate crisis by implementing local schemes ranging from local heating to community land projects and flood defences. Luke Murphy, the leading author of a recent report on community projects explains that in the background there are several successful and transformative community projects combining resources and generating low-carbon energy, housing and natural assets. These community groups have proven that they are capable of improving regional wealth and opportunities while continuing to address the challenges of climate change.
The report by the IPPR includes a range of community initiatives, including:
-Social Housing Projects such as the Goodwin project in Hull, which includes the renovation of 60 derelict houses, creating affordable eco family properties that require minimal energy to heat or cool.
-Land reclamation such as at the Mall Mire woodland near Glasgow, an area prone to littering and fly-tipping. The area has now been transformed into a bustling woodland and includes a community garden for organic farming, school clubs and holiday projects.
-Repair and maintenance of selected cafes providing meeting spaces, clothes and furniture and electrical sales, reducing the consumption of new products and decreasing emissions.
-Creating new community-owned renewable energy projects, particularly in areas with high levels of fuel poverty.
Admittedly, climate change may not be the top priority for many people, local communities recognised the potential to meet the needs of their community, while simultaneously tackling climate change through energy-efficient properties, sustainable transport or creating their own community-owned renewable energy schemes.
Community projects create benefits for residents while creating a positive climate impact at the same time. By putting the needs of our communities first, it empowers local people to engage and take further action on climate change, rather than being instructed what is best for them.
Findings from the report suggested that due to many of these community schemes not receiving detailed assessments, little information was recorded on their collective environmental impact, which the authors believe has likely been underestimated by decision-makers for some time now.
IPPR is now urging policymakers to provide widespread support and investment for other similar community projects. The Thinktank believes that around a third of new onshore green energy should be community-owned, sharing the benefits of a transition to net-zero with local communities.
The IPPR is calling for new measures to support communities developing, operating and generating the benefits of climate-related projects via a ‘thriving places’ fund.
The IPPR explains that these projects have proven that it is possible to increase community wealth and create thriving places while managing and addressing the climate challenge. The Government now needs to act on this and deliver a plan that enables all communities to have control over how their area will adapt and benefit from the transition to net-zero.