Inspiration At Your Fingertips
What do all of the following have in common?
Native Architects’ new low carbon office, built using locally-grown hemp, straw, wood fibre and cork.
A Swift conservation project in the Carse of Gowrie.
“Love Not Landfill”, changing how Londoners buy, care for and dispose of their clothes.
“Lanchester Wine”, using wind turbines to run its bottling factory, and mine water heat pumps to keep its workers warm in winter.
The 5,200 acre community-owned Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, helping to tackle climate change, restore nature and support community regeneration.
Perth and Kinross Council’s Furniture Re-Use Programme, diverting office and school furniture away from landfill.
“Trip To”, a thriving network of electric car share clubs in rural mid-Wales.
OK, not a tricky guess - these are just a few of the more than one thousand local initiatives to combat climate change and biodiversity loss, which their owners have published on Carbon Copy. (Find links to these examples at the end of this article).
The richness, breadth and depth of this treasure chest of stories keeps on growing! But to be honest, it’s not the number that matters so much as the diversity and practical impact of so many ingenious local initiatives, readily available to anyone looking for inspiration or guidance for their own project.
When anyone publishes their story on Carbon Copy, we ask them to identify how it is making an impact. This is by no means just about carbon reduction. Many of the projects have as their primary objective social inclusion and greater fairness, for example, with zero carbon a secondary benefit.
There’s a lot of choice! We have 253 initiatives that address biodiversity loss, 311 stories about renewable energy schemes, 255 projects that focus on health and wellbeing, and so on. To search for a project that interests you, use the powerful search drop-down menus on the main Initiatives page.
Let me give you an example. Suppose you select in turn, Action Area: Circular Economy; Initiative Reach: Town; Challenge: Excessive Consumption; Organisation Size: 50-249. Your first click will throw up a host of projects, but the list is filtered down by each successive click until you discover a project like “The Hive” in Llandrindod Wells. It’s a community hub, housing a range of community-led sustainability projects that support the local circular economy while meeting the needs of local families; using a zero-carbon e-cargo bike to deliver loaned or donated goods, a model of zero-carbon transport in a rural environment.
One thousand useful stories do not write themselves! We are extremely grateful to all those who have contributed time and effort to pool their experience into this invaluable national resource. First to be published back in 2020 were the stories of hundreds of local community organisations. To these have been added many projects submitted through the five English Net Zero Hubs, Team Wales, Northern Ireland Local Government Association and Scottish Councils, as well as Planet Mark, Ashden and Friends of the Earth, and many Local Authorities and Charities.
Why does local climate action matter, not just in the UK, but around the world? For one thing, because this vigorous local leadership sends a strong signal to national governments about what their voters think is important. At COP26 in Glasgow, 196 countries promised to "revisit and strengthen" their plans for curbing emissions, but there is not much evidence that this has been happening, with COP27 now only five months away. Vigorous and vocal climate and biodiversity initiatives at local level are a powerful means to hold their feet to the fire.
Last November, I highlighted the Communities vs Climate Change report by UK think tank New Local, identifying three vital benefits to locally conceived and executed climate action. They’re worth repeating here. Local action that’s shaped by a given community’s priorities will ensure that mitigation policies ‘work’ in the context of specific places. Secondly, when local communities are involved in creating solutions, people will buy in to doing what’s needed and gain hope from visible change. And local action provides the most relevant and effective ways for communities to adapt to local unavoidable impacts of climate change, which will be different everywhere.
You probably don’t need the ticking Climate Clock to tell you how urgent it is for us all to act now. With every day that passes, it becomes clearer that local is vital to sustainable change.
Projects mentioned in this article:
The Hive, Severn Wye Energy Agency
Native Architects low carbon office
Save Our Scottish Swifts! Tayside Biodiversity Partnership
Love Not Landfill antidote to fast fashion
Lanchester Wine wind turbines and mine water heat pumps
Langholm Community Tarras Valley Nature Reserve
Furniture Re-Use Perth and Kinross Council
Trip To Car Club rural electric car sharing
Image courtesy of Love Not Landfill