Luca Tiratelli: Why We’re Looking For Local Solutions


Thinking of climate change through a local lens can help us find practical solutions and stop searching for silver bullets.

Climate change is the defining issue of the 21st century. It will impact on our entire way of life. But policymaking in the UK hasn’t responded on this scale.

Pushed down the list of national priorities due to a never-ending succession of short-term crises, our response to global warming is characterised by a strange mix of complacency and fatalism.

One minute we are deluding ourselves that a technical fix or tinkering on the margins can solve the problem. The next we are handwringing about the scale of the crisis and our lack of capacity to act.

Why is this? This pattern of thinking about climate change is driven by imagining the problem at the wrong scale.

By thinking of the climate crisis primarily as a planetary-level mega-problem, we lock ourselves into a framework where we are forced to search for silver bullet solutions through national and international policy.

This is why we flit between complacency and fatalism – one minute we think we’ve cracked it, the next we realise how far away we still are.

What if we looked at climate change through a local prism? This can help us unlock clearer thinking and more impactful action.

Because while climate change is affecting the entire world, the specific challenges it creates – from flooding to ecosystem destruction – manifest locally.

And the activities that create the emissions, that drive the problem – they also happen locally.

If we can adopt a more locally focused approach to climate change, then we can tackle problems as they emerge – at a more manageable and less terrifying scale. Helping connect the impact of what we do to change we can see.

Working on local causes and local impacts of climate change will allow us to use local knowledge, creating space for new ideas and innovations. Working locally also means reaching more people and helping build communities’ resilience.

How can we get started with a local approach to tackling climate change? New Local is partnering with Groundwork and Grosvenor to launch a new research project to explore this question, including:

• the potential of local areas to become a focus of climate policy;
• how communities can be empowered to take more of an active role in shaping climate policy;
• how councils can work differently to drive forward a community-powered climate change agenda.

We hope that this research can be the start of a conversation about the much bigger role that local can play in tackling climate change.

Luca Tiratelli joined New Local as Policy Researcher in July 2019. New Local is an independent think tank and network of councils, with a mission to transform public services and unlock community power. Since joining New Local, Luca has authored and co-authored numerous reports, on topics including inclusive growth and community mobilisation. If you would like to find out more about his new research report or have examples to share, please contact Luca at [email protected]

Photo by Don Lodge on Unsplash

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