During the pandemic, many of us became more aware of climate issues and our impact on our world. It also showed us how mutual aid networks can be incredibly powerful in bringing people together to do good. We realised that we could harness this way of working to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Zero Carbon Guildford was created to give local people ownership and influence over these important issues.
We began by bringing together lots of people from various groups – local community leaders, activists, counsellors – and said, “Look we're all working towards similar goals and we’re not being very efficient. Why don't we share experiences, skills, and knowledge to see if we can do more?”
We decided that a visible, physical presence would be one of the best ways to get the wider community involved – reaching out to people who maybe hadn’t thought about or engaged with these issues in the past. Our Climate Emergency Centre, based in Guildford town centre, recently opened its doors. We host educational and community events and installations covering a broad range of issues, from the global climate crisis to home energy solutions and biodiversity.
It was important to us to offer practical advice and solutions. There is a huge disparity in the number of people concerned about the climate crisis and the number of people taking steps to change things. We want to strip away confusion and misinformation to build pathways for actionable change. This means providing local, easy-to-implement solutions that individuals, businesses, schools, and community organisations can use to lower their waste and emissions footprints. We are also partnering with The Jump – an online platform – to help local people to act more collaboratively.
Another area we are focused on is mental health and well-being. People often have a strong emotional response to climate change. Climate education can be overwhelming and provoke grief, anxiety, and depression. We help people to process these emotions and to embrace positive behavioural change.
Our overarching goal is to help the borough hit carbon neutrality as quickly as possible, but ultimately, we want to help the entire community to live more sustainably, protect our environment, and support our most vulnerable residents. Only 30% of Guildford’s emissions can be tackled by the county council, the rest must come from reducing consumption, better energy management, and waste reduction in the community.
Zero Carbon Guildford is an inclusive organisation. It doesn't matter what your beliefs are or what side of the political spectrum you come from, we are all working towards the same aims – creating a healthier planet and environment for everyone.
It’s important to build a diverse network of passionate people. We started as a small core group and now have a large number of volunteers and work with a broad range of community groups and organisations who are all doing great work. It was really important to us that this was a truly collaborative and diverse effort. And by spreading our net really wide, we have also created a huge bank of experience and skills to draw on.
Interaction and engagement in the local community.