Low Carbon West Oxford's story
Low Carbon West Oxford aims to be both advocacy and solution-oriented. On the one hand, the organisation promotes positive messaging around the importance and value of acting on climate change. On the other, it encourages residents to take action directly through a range of emission-reduction projects. With an integrated dynamic, Low Carbon West Oxford receives funding from local renewable energy projects (including small-scale solar, hydro and wind turbine projects) to support local action around waste reduction, food, energy, transport, home energy, and nature.
Through the charity's "Trees & Wildlife" working group, over 1600 trees have been planted locally during the last 13 years. Moreover, two new green spaces have been established in West Oxford: Kingfisher Corner (a wildlife site) and Hogacre Community Eco-Park (with a community orchard/edible garden, beehives, and a small wind turbine). In the end, the benefits of these endeavours have gone beyond the sought emission reductions (estimated at ~25 tonnes of CO2 per year): the greening efforts have also helped to enhance local biodiversity, reduce instances of flooding, and widen community access to open green spaces for recreational purposes.
These achievements have happened in tandem with the successes of Low Carbon West Oxford's other working group and activities: around 1.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions are saved each year through the organisation's "swap shops" initiative to reduce waste; 60 tonnes through its local car clubs; 130 tonnes through a household energy reduction programme; and 190 tonnes through small-scale renewable energy projects. Overall, this work has produced additional economic, health and waste management benefits for residents in West Oxford.
Image: Unsplash Stock Photo (Tetiana Shyshkina)
Useful learnings from Low Carbon West Oxford
Working and/or merging with existing local organisations (in this case, renewable energy community cooperatives, a wildlife group and a waste reduction group) makes work on the ground more efficient and holistic, with wider community benefits.
The surplus from the profit generated by renewable energy community cooperatives can be used to further support emission-reduction goals in other areas, such as food and nature.
Climate action doesn't have to happen in silos: an integrated approach that brings together the interconnections between different emitting activities, and through collaborations between different community groups, businesses and public bodies, helps to ensure the sustainability and community ownership/uptake of an initiative.