Sharing successes and struggles is key to reducing emissions, report finds

28th August, 2018 - 15:10


Celebrating successes is key to inspiring businesses and organisations to undertake emissions reductions, but sharing what doesn't work can be just as valuable.

That is one of the findings of a survey conducted by Leeds Climate Commission earlier this year, the results of which have been written up as a report on overcoming barriers to climate mitigation in Leeds.

The report, by University of Leeds student Andrew Jones, emphasizes the opportunities that reducing emissions at the city scale can have for saving costs (based on the updated Mini Stern for Leeds by Professor Andy Gouldson and a team of Leeds researchers) and identifies further mechanisms to help unlock the process.

Despite the relatively small number of respondents, the survey produced useful feedback and helped to identify a set of actions that Leeds Climate Commission has been studying through its Engagement and Communications Working Group. Some of the actions have already been undertaken; others are being progressed or are in the pipeline.

Leeds based success stories have been promoted by the Climate Commission from the offset, and the website now carries 18 success stories across a range of issues, from renewables and energy efficiency to flood prevention and people power. A second wave of success stories are currently being commissioned and will be posted soon, with a new look portal on the website.

One of the calls was for a platform through which to share information; this is now being investigated by the Commission, initially as a forum for businesses, organisations and groups that attended the Project Development and Finance Networking Event on 1 May and as a means for ongoing communication around green finance for future planned workshops.

The Commission has also started a Linked In group and discussions are at an early stage about a wider platform that could provide practical information and knowledge exchange for individuals, groups and businesses.

The survey also highlighted the importance of sharing struggles and failures, the learning from which can be as helpful as success stories. Avenues to do this are few and the report recommends establishing regular networking events, promoted through social media, to encourage this.

The report cites the example of Essen in Germany, the European Green Capital 2017, which has been particularly successful in establishing networking across a wide range of stakeholder groups and using social media campaigns to drive engagement.

Leeds Climate Commission has a Climate Forum, which commenced this process last year with an engagement exercise; other Forum events are being planned for November which will be announced in the next newsletter as well as on our website, Linked In and Twitter/Facebook.

The most important finding of the report, based on the survey of Leeds based groups and organisations, was the need for a positive environmental vision for the city with a common goal that all could strive towards. It gives the example of Bristol (the 2015 European Green Capital), which formed the Bristol Green Capital Partnership, an independent leadership organisation with similarities to the Leeds Climate Commission. Members of the Commission’s core team have recently had conversations with Ian Townsend, the Chief Executive of BGCP, about the potential for joint working across a number of areas and look forward to learning more about the success of a vision-based approach.

Work has also commenced in the Climate Commissions Engagement and Communications Working Group, in a session facilitated by Phillip Marken of Open Source Arts, to capture and describe the Commission’s vision for Leeds.

A University of Leeds led public engagement project, funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering, will be seeking to create a longer term positive vision of the future through an art competition. Called Low Carbon Technologies: the Art of a Sustainable Future, it will host a one-day visioning workshop with stakeholders, school children and climate scientists (invitation only). The resulting vision will be made publically available for anyone to respond to creatively, with an awards ceremony and exhibition in April 2019.

Andrew Jones's report is available to read in full in the downloads section of Student Research

Image: Rawpixel, Unsplash