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Climate and Communities

The challenge of engaging communities in work on climate change is at the core of sustainable development. It’s a complex issue with only weak connections between the global problems and the actions we seek locally. In 2012 public concern is at a low point: it comes and goes and one challenge is to reinvigorate that interest and engagement. Opinion polls show that most people accept and are concerned about climate change, but they are not taking action. There are millions of such people – far more than the active deniers and sceptics.

CEA has been working on these issues a lot over the last five years. We see the challenge as moving people and communities from

  • Awareness (most people have some basic knowledge) to
  • Engagement (where they accept that they have a role to play) and on to
  • Action (where they do something useful!)

Each of these three stages needs different messages. We’ve worked on all these, with widely varying communities from rich rural villages to Muslim communities in east London. We’ve done this work with councils, with community organisations and with commercial and social enterprises.

We can advise on the most basic issues in excluded communities (where our community development work is valuable), on structured approaches to building engagement around energy and behaviour change, on community energy projects (we have been actively involved in DECC’s Local Energy Fund programme) and on developing longer-term programs and partnerships.

Chris chairs the UK Low Carbon Communities Network so we are well in touch with new developments, while also running an annual module for Birkbeck College at the University of London on communication and climate. Our work on environmental justice means that we have spent time working on the social aspects of this and on fuel poverty – Jan has led a project working in Tower Hamlets with different faith organisations.

Local action is critically important for so many reasons. It’s about creating a new low-carbon infrastructure, it’s about engaging people in action, it’s about saving energy and tackling fuel poverty, and crucially it’s simply about ‘bearing witness’ – being there to show people in our communities that there are people here and now who care enough to act on this global issue.

We know what works (and what doesn’t). Contact us for a discussion if this is a concern for you.

 

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Recent Resources

These are some current resources – see the CEA Resources page for a complete list of what is available.