Empower communities to tackle the climate crisis, says new report

Communities need to be empowered to design and enact their own visionary, sustainable futures, says a new IPPR North report.

Leading think tank IPPR North has today published a blueprint, designed by citizens from the Liverpool city region and Anglesey, to redesign their communities to be places to take pride in.

IPPR North empowered local people, using deliberative research techniques, to develop innovative, hopeful and exciting visions for a sustainable future for the places they call home. Their ideas included:

  • Reclaiming spaces for children: Enabling children to feel safe, happy, welcome, and able to play and interact with nature, wherever they are.
  • Public transport that really works for local people and places: Such as dial-a-ride schemes for everyone living in rural areas, lowering pollution and make it easy and affordable for people to get around.
  • Making spaces for nature and green spaces for people: Taking pride in, and making existing parks accessible to everyone – including disabled and older people – and reclaiming spaces currently used for cars, for people.
  • Communities having the ability to take control of sustainable assets: and to retain some of the benefits of them to be felt locally.

Citizens told researchers that they felt the relationship between their communities and the UK government is extractive. For instance, they know that their communities are generating a significant portion of the UK’s renewable energy, yet central government has not afforded them the power to feel the benefits of the UK’s journey to a decarbonised future – they feel that policies are not developed with them but are done to them.

IPPR North say that their research shows that citizens do not trust Westminster with the transition to a decarbonised future. “Communities have the vision to take control of this transition, alongside greater ambition than that demonstrated by central government,” they say.

The research also showed that people are also aware that other places with more powers than their own are ‘getting ahead’ of them. For example, one participant in the Liverpool city region told researchers that they would like to “find a way to stop all cars from coming into the city centre – a car free city a bit like Amsterdam”. In other words, people see what is happening outside of their places and they want the power to design healthier, happier, more sustainable places too.

Report author and senior research fellow at IPPR North, Jonathan Webb, said: “Today’s report demonstrates that the boldest, most ambitious visions for a sustainable future can be found in communities like the Liverpool city region and Anglesey. It’s time to empower these communities, and others like them, to design and enact their own visionary, sustainable futures. This is what we mean when we say that government must let go to level up - empowering communities to deliver our sustainable futures”.

Click here to download the report, Net zero places: A community-powered response to the climate crisis.

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