Tackling climate change and protecting nature in our council and communities
Author: Jake Woodier, senior media and campaigns manager at The Climate Coalition
Climate change and protecting our natural world is the greatest challenge of our time. It requires urgent and collaborative action from government through to local councils and our communities. While national and international efforts are crucial, there is great hope and belief in the change that takes place at the local level.
Local (parish and town) councils, along with their communities, have a unique opportunity to spearhead initiatives in the places they know best, that contribute to a more sustainable future. By taking proactive steps towards mitigating climate change and promoting environmentally friendly practices, these grassroots efforts can make a huge and inspiring difference for years to come. We explore a few of the ways local councils and communities in the UK can get involved in tackling climate change and create more climate-friendly environments.
- Communications: One of the first steps towards creating climate and nature-friendly communities is to communicate about the impacts of climate change and loss of nature, and the potential solutions. Councils can organise a variety of events, workshops, and public meetings to engage people in conversation about the issues, and what can be done collectively. By inviting experts and environmental organisations from the area, residents can engage with valuable insights and share practical tips on building sustainable communities. Engaging schools and community groups in various positive environmental projects and incorporating climate change education into the classroom can foster a sense of responsibility and empower younger generations to take action.
- Sustainable Practices: Councils can lead by example by adopting sustainable practices within their own operations. This includes using renewable and environmentally conscious utility and service suppliers, adopting sustainable, plant-based food practices, and utilising sustainable procurement policies. By partnering with local businesses, councils can encourage them to adopt sustainable practices, such as reducing carbon emissions and supporting renewable energy sources. Councils can use their spending power to support the greenest businesses and suppliers in the local area which can act as a catalyst for others to improve to stand a chance of getting contracts, while supporting the local economy. Councils can also explore opportunities for renewable energy generation within their areas, such as providing space on public buildings or land for community-owned wind turbines and/or solar panels.
- Encouraging low-carbon travel: Promoting active transportation, such as walking and cycling, is a great way to reduce emissions and local pollution, leading to improved public health. Local councils can develop and maintain safe pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, including dedicated paths and bike-sharing schemes, as well as providing plenty of space for bike storage where needed. Collaborating with local schools, businesses, and community groups, councils can organise walking and cycling events to promote reducing reliance on personal cars. Councils can also take measures to encourage use of public transport and do what they can to ensure it is affordable, reliable and accessible.
- Promoting nature and green space: Town and parish councils can work with communities to establish community gardens, allotments, and green corridors, creating restored green areas for wildlife and to stimulate local food production and knowledge. Additionally, tree planting initiatives can improve air quality, reduce the impacts of flooding, provide shade and opportunities for volunteers and employment. By involving volunteers and community groups, councils can deploy resources and expertise to restore and maintain natural habitats, making areas more resilient to climate change while creating a sense of pride in the community
- Collaboration and Partnerships: Town and parish councils can play a pivotal role in fostering collaboration. Engaging with adjacent councils, NGO and community groups, businesses, and community groups can unlock shared knowledge, resources, and funding opportunities. Collaboration can involve joint initiatives, such as community energy projects, waste management schemes, or climate and nature action campaigns such as joining in with Great Big Green Week in June, 2024. By building strong partnerships, local councils can amplify their impact and drive positive change on a larger scale.
Local councils and communities have the power to create climate and nature-friendly environments that contribute to the fight against climate change and protection and restoration of nature. By communicating, implementing sustainable practices, encouraging greener transportation, promoting green spaces, and catalysing collaboration, they can lead the way towards a more sustainable and resilient future.
The following blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional or legal advice. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Association of Local Councils. Any links to external sources included in this blog post are provided for convenience and do not constitute endorsement or approval of those websites' content, products, services, or policies. Therefore, readers should use discretion and judgment when applying the information to their circumstances. Finally, this blog post may be updated or revised without notice.