As the climate change agenda in the UK moves from strategy to action, this week we explore the key questions local authorities are facing when launching their action plans to residents:
1. How do we make climate change relevant to residents?
Interlinking climate change topics
Helping people realise that simple changes made at home can make a difference to their carbon footprint is key. By linking actions, wider climate change topics can be introduced that residents may not have previously considered.
It’s through the understanding that every action we take is interlinked, that the climate conversation can be broadened to a wider audience with greater appeal. For example, by encouraging residents to shop locally; not only will this reduce carbon in terms of the food production (energy, water use, transport and packaging) it will also positively impact the local environment by encouraging residents to walk or cycle rather than taking the car (sustainable transport). This naturally leads onto introducing health & diet…
Weaving in subjects that would not automatically be a first choice of interest for people, broadens their climate change knowledge and increases the likelihood of adoption and greater carbon reduction. This allows the local authority to prioritise the topics residents are exposed to and in what order, in reference to their climate change plans.
2. Is a single channel for content & tracking carbon improvements appropriate given the range of different climate impact areas?
Reporting the associated carbon footprint of measured services such as waste, recycling, energy and water can be relatively robust. However, it is important to note that tracking carbon footprints is currently not an exact process across all areas. For example, calculating Sustainable Transport carbon improvements based on a resident’s pledge that they will cycle (rather than drive) to work would be based on trust, unless there is technology to support that.
We therefore recommend a blend of industry calculations and best estimates to report carbon savings. Considering these multiple interventions, being able to co-ordinate, measure and monitor through a single channel will reduce the risk of double counting and claimed carbon savings, making the whole process more efficient for reporting.
Resident tracking; carbon calculator
The opportunity to track carbon impact should also be considered from the resident’s perspective. Accessing their carbon savings from one source, will provide the opportunity to engage and positively reinforce their improvements.
3. How do we encourage residents to participate?
- Content: Produce relevant and topical climate change content which engages people to act.
- Weekly connections: Interact regularly with residents to encourage lasting behaviour change and a greater carbon footprint improvement.
- Incentivise positive action: People have different motivations, therefore offer a range of incentives whether choosing a personal reward, donating to charities or engaging with topical content, there is something in it for everyone.
- Community: Connecting residents as part of a like-minded community to tackle climate change, encourages participation behind a common cause.
When laying down your climate change action plans to engage residents there are many more questions to consider:
- How should we approach raising awareness of the whole climate change agenda, without overwhelming residents?
- How do we introduce broader subjects which residents may not be interested in or have little experience of?
- With multiple topics how do we keep the focus on the local authorities’ priorities?
- How do we track resident engagement in subject areas to achieve continued carbon improvements?
- Will the claimed carbon reductions stand up to scrutiny and fulfil the commitments made by the council?
- How do we future proof our campaigns and provide consistent, targeted communications?
- How do we sustain resident behaviour change & interest through to 2030 & beyond?
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