Table of Contents

Low Carbon Communities

Low Carbon Communities

Imaginative Approaches to Combating Climate Change Locally

Edited by Michael Peters, Shane Fudge and Tim Jackson

Community action is a vital strategy in the fight against climate change and has increasingly informed government policy, academic inquiry and grassroots action since the start of this century. This timely and engaging volume explores both the promise of community-based action in tackling climate change and some of its limitations.

Chapter 1: Community Engagement and Social Organization: Introducing Concepts, Policy and Practical Applications

Michael Peters

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental geography, environmental sociology, geography, human geography, politics and public policy, public policy


Michael Peters INTRODUCTION Community efforts to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions hold the potential, in principle, to benefit from a greater emphasis on collective expediency; that is, accomplishing more by acting together rather than alone, with broader motivational impacts in terms of encouraging positive beliefs and actions (Walker and Devine-Wright, 2008; DECC, 2009). The involvement of households in this drive needs to be a core feature of attempts by policy makers seeking to address climate change locally and nationally. In the UK, for example, homes are responsible for 27 per cent of total CO2 emissions nationally (House of Commons, 2009) and the energy used by households for water and space heating accounts for 13 per cent of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions (DECC, 2009). For some time now there has been a growing consensus amongst policy makers that projects rooted in bottom-up social, cultural and economic arrangements hold the potential to be more effective than topdown solutions by a) enabling individuals to recognize their own role in contributing to more sustainable energy use and b) providing greater encouragement to citizens to engage more fully in the wider political debate on sustainable living (Long, 1998; Jordan, 2006; Fudge and Peters, 2009). The role of local government in tackling climate change in the UK (including the stimulation of individual and collective household action) is increasingly identified as a key component of a concerted national effort to curb carbon emissions (CSE, 2005, 2007). Both the 2007 White Paper Meeting the Energy Challenge...

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