Communities help to plan low carbon future

Local communities have a new way to help the country meet its obligation to tackle climate change, following this month’s approval of the historic Paris Agreement [1]. With the need to develop a genuinely sustainable energy system more pressing than ever, a new consultation tool  published today [30 November] lets towns, villages and neighbourhoods shape their own genuinely sustainable local energy plans.

Published by the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) and CPRE, it aims to bring communities together to share their passion for local landscapes with their enthusiasm for a more sustainable future.

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CSE and CPRE’s new ‘Future Energy Landscapes’ approach shows that putting local people at the centre of energy planning can result in ambitious vision and targets. Through a series of participatory workshops, with visual tools and consumption calculations, communities are empowered to combine their understanding and views of their landscape with planning for energy needs Together, local planners and communities can create robust energy strategies that could deliver radical reductions in carbon emissions and enjoy genuine local backing.

Rachel Coxcoon, Head of Local & Community Empowerment at CSE, who led the research, says: “Our aim was to develop a new approach to energy planning that would reduce local opposition to new energy infrastructure, by putting local people at the heart of the process of choosing what’s appropriate for their area.  Communities who trialed this approach developed plans for future energy developments that were ambitious in scope, but grounded in local realities”.

Kim Hagen, Senior Energy Campaigner at CPRE, comments: “Moving towards a low carbon future needs to happen in a socially just way that doesn’t harm the countryside. This new approach puts communities in the driving seat for energy planning, ensuring local voices are valued and increasing local pride in shaping the energy transition we urgently need. At the same time, the approach puts landscape character at the heart of renewable energy planning, simply by carefully listening to those who live in, and care for, their local area.

“With the Paris Agreement meaning that people are now working globally towards a low carbon future, this energy planning approach encourages local communities to do their bit.”

[1] On 18 November, the UK formally ratified the Paris Agreement to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which came into force on 4 November. More information is here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-ratifies-the-paris-agreement

 

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