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 7: Low Carbon Communities and the Currencies of Change

Gill Seyfang

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


Gill Seyfang INTRODUCTION The challenge of achieving low carbon communities cannot be underestimated. While government policies set ambitious targets for carbon reduction over the next 40 years, there remains an urgent need for tools and initiatives to deliver these reductions through behaviour change among individuals, households and communities. This chapter sets out a ‘New Economics’ agenda for sustainable consumption which addresses the need for low carbon communities. It then applies these criteria in a critical examination of complementary currencies in the UK. These are alternative mechanisms for exchanging goods and services within a community which do not use money, and which aim instead to build local economic resilience and social capital. There have been three ‘waves’ of such currencies in recent years in the UK, and the chapter examines the two most recent of these, namely time banks and local money systems. The potential of these initiatives as carbon reduction tools has not previously been considered, and so this chapter offers a fresh perspective on carbon reduction, consumption and complementary currencies. THE NEW ECONOMICS OF SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION As climate change has become the most pressing environmental issue facing humanity (IPCC, 2007), the inequity of the consumption patterns which contribute to it have been thrown into relief. The risks and benefits of emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere are sharply divided among the world’s economies, with the developed world contributing the lion’s share of emissions while developing countries face the most dangerous impacts. Carbon dioxide emissions, a by-product from burning fossil...

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