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new times, new connections civil society action on climate change

new times, new connections civil society action on climate change

by Faye Scott National study research conducted by Helen Fisher Local mapping research conducted by Mapping for Change Local maps supplement written with Chris Church, Community Environment Associates

Green Alliance Green Alliance is an influential, independent organisation working to bring environmental priorities into the political mainstream. We work collaboratively with the three main parties, government, civil society, business and others to ensure that political leaders deliver ambitious solutions to global environmental issues. 36 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0RE tel: 020 7233 7433 fax: 020 7233 9033 email: Green Alliance is a registered charity 1045395 Company limited by guarantee 3037633 Published by Green Alliance in 2010 ISBN 978-1-905869-37-4 ÂŁ5 Designed by Hyperkit

Acknowledgements Thank you to all the organisations that took part in this research. Thanks also to Chris Church and Helen Fisher for their support throughout the project, to all the organisations who assisted with providing information for case studies and to Rebekah Phillips for her help in editing the report. This study and publication have been made possible with the kind support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is an international charitable foundation with cultural, educational and social interests. Based in Lisbon with offices in London and Paris, the Foundation is in a privileged position to support national and transnational work tackling contemporary issues. The purpose of the UK Branch in London is to connect and enrich the experiences of individuals, families and communities, with a special interest in supporting those who are most disadvantaged. Its current work focuses on three areas: cultural understanding, fulfilling potential, and the environment.

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executive summary



civil society and climate change



why is civil society important in tackling climate change?



what is actually going on? – activities underway



activities analysis



bridging the gap – success factors



looking ahead


local mapping supplement – getting to the bedrock of climate change action


annex 1: a note on methodology


annex 2: organisations involved in the national study


annex 3: organisations involved in the local studies





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executive summary Climate change will affect all of civil society. It has the potential to roll back progress on addressing poverty, exacerbate inequalities and challenge our ability to meet the needs of the vulnerable. Addressing it offers opportunities – to develop new green jobs and more sustainable public services and to build greener, healthier and more resilient communities. Diverse civil society organisations are already recognising and responding to the impacts that climate change will have on their work and ability to meet the needs of beneficiaries. But understanding the relevance of climate change is not always an easy process to find time or support for. Many organisations continue to see it as an issue with no connection to their immediate concerns. Overcoming this and mainstreaming action across civil society is a priority. As increasing numbers of organisations recognise the impacts of climate change on their core concerns, their most important role is helping to demonstrate the weight and breadth behind calls for action. Civil society organisations are incredibly well placed to influence government and business, using their varied relationships with decision makers and key stakeholders to demand more ambitious progress on tackling climate change. With their trusted role in communities they are also ideally placed to support behaviour change in ways that clearly link to the issues their stakeholders already care about. The spotlight put on civil society by the government’s Big Society vision underlines the important role it can play. Communities and civil society organisations are being offered the chance to pursue their ambitions on their own terms. But it is vital that efforts to deliver a bigger and better society also deliver a more sustainable and resilient one. Understanding how climate change will impact on the aspirations and existing concerns of communities, as well as the opportunities that tackling it offers, is central to securing this.

“We are all in a boat with a hole in the bottom and we’re busy bailing the boat out so that our charity survives. Very few of us have time to look over the bow and see the waterfall we’re about to go down. Charities are so busy trying to live hand to mouth, year to year, that very few of them have the luxury of taking a strategic forward look because that costs money and time.” – Disability Essex

This study In this context, Green Alliance has explored the landscape of civil society action on climate change. What activities are underway? Do they reflect awareness of the links between climate change and core missions? Are they influencing decision makers? This national study covers 222 organisations and 242 activities. It draws on a comprehensive survey, a one day workshop, desk research and 36 in-depth interviews. It has also been informed by Green Alliance’s experience in other key initiatives exploring how to mainstream action on climate change. In addition, we conducted two local studies that produced online maps of climate change activity in inner-city Newcastle and rural north Dorset.

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What we found The study revealed an encouraging amount of activity. This report sets out the type and distribution of activities underway with case studies of each. Our analysis helped identify the various factors that determine the successful engagement of an organisation with climate change. These factors and the activities they enable are discussed in detail and reflected in the diagram overleaf. Key findings from the study include: Engaging with climate change takes more than awareness – when analysing the distribution of climate change activities underway it was tempting to identify a sequence that organisations go through. Tangible efforts to reduce organisational footprint could be seen as a common first step, gradually moving through to an organisation embedding action on climate change across their work. But a more detailed analysis of the evidence did not support this linear approach. Even with efforts to tackle footprint or to raise awareness about climate change underway, organisations do not automatically move to a more substantive consideration of the relevance of climate change to their core work. Many continue to see the issue as separate to what they do. Acknowledging and bridging this gap is key to mainstreaming action on climate change across civil society. The success factors identified by this study are an important means of supporting organisations in doing so.

“If you’re a representative body and a lot of your members do not consider it an important issue, at what stage in the evolution of an organisational strategy do you start to say, ‘Well actually, it’s about time we led on this.’ That’s the point we got to.” – NCVO

Umbrella body leadership is key – they are ideally placed to jump-start the process of organisations understanding the relevance of climate change to their work. This is especially true of those working at a sub-sectoral level, supporting organisations working on similar issues. They can make the links between climate change and core missions and engage their members with the impacts and opportunities in the context of issues they care about and in language that resonates. Umbrella bodies have a responsibility to proactively engage their members on this issue and can amplify their voice in decision making in response. In light of their potential to cascade mobilisation, any support for organisations in understanding the relevance of climate change to different issues should prioritise umbrella bodies. New partnerships are needed between different parts of civil society – there is huge value in environmental organisations working with diverse civil society groups to build a shared understanding of the relevance of climate change to their work. Study participants cited such partnerships as essential to helping them get up to speed, building their evidence base and giving them the confidence to engage other organisations with climate change. New and surprising partnerships are also very powerful when it comes to influencing, so environmental policy organisations have an important responsibility to proactively identify civil society groups with perspectives to add. Any work to support groups in clarifying the links between their core work and climate change is an investment worth making if it brings new and compelling voices to the policy debate.


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The need for smarter funding – the need for funding that supports work on climate change as part of an integrated set of objectives was clear from the study. Key pieces of work that explore the links between climate change and other issues have been funded. But many organisations still find that proposals mentioning climate change are seen as ‘environmental’, instead of funders recognising the work’s relevance to their existing funding priorities. The funding community is working to address this but more is needed if we are to see action on climate change mainstreamed.

“There is often a lack of knowledge in organisations about the connections between their work and the impacts of climate change. They may be lacking links with organisations that can help them think it all through.”

Engagement will not necessarily lead to policy influence – adding their voice to decision making is the most important role for civil society on climate change. But even when organisations fully understand the relevance of climate change to their work many still feel hesitant about trying to influence policy in response. This finding raises concerns about how far we can assume that influence follows automatically from a more thorough understanding of climate change and its impacts, highlighting an important area in which to monitor progress.

– The Baring Foundation

Progress needs support – successfully mainstreaming action on climate change across civil society requires support. Gradual but inevitable progress cannot be assumed and organisations will need support in building their capacity to engage with climate change and understand its links to wider issues. Acknowledging this and developing and targeting support effectively is essential. This report highlights various ways forward but it is also an important point to make in the context of the Big Society. A very positive vision has been articulated, but ensuring that we achieve a bigger and more sustainable society depends on organisations being equipped to respond in ways that build-in sustainability.

fig 1: success factors in civil society organisations engaging with climate change

umbrella leadership relevant info/advice

internal leadership

tackling footprint

making links

research and evidence

right language

new partnerships

smarter funding

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The local mapping study A participatory local mapping exercise supplemented the national study. It produced online maps of climate change activity in Dorset and Newcastle, which local organisations populated themselves. They can be viewed online with links available on p.59. The maps provide a fascinating snapshot of local activity with significant green activity underway in Dorset and a lot of community activity underway in Newcastle. Two key points emerged: Building climate literacy at the local level – the local maps strongly underline the case for supporting local civil society groups in relating climate change to their existing priorities. In the context of the Big Society, a lack of climate literacy will mean missed opportunities for innovative projects that deliver environmental benefits alongside economic, health, security and community resilience benefits. Green Alliance will be exploring how to support this further as a follow on to this work. Linking up community and environmental networks – these do increasingly overlap, for example through work on healthy food, better homes or healthier local transport. But the maps indicated a lack of cross over, highlighting the need for local and national networks to reach out and expand the range of groups they engage with. There is also significant scope for engaging with local authorities in ways that enable local priorities and the impacts of climate change to be tackled in more joined-up ways. Such relationships will be central to developing a more holistic approach to climate change that is embedded in action on local concerns.

Looking ahead This study reveals a picture of civil society at a time of change. An urgent agenda is making inroads, with a range of activities underway in response. But these responses are nowhere near the scale needed. The study highlights the distance to travel to a civil society fully aware of the fundamental links between climate change and the many issues it holds dear and using its voice and varied channels of influence to demand and deliver action in response. The key success factors identified should help the government, civil society leaders and organisations themselves to identify where support is needed and to target it effectively. This will ensure that our new Big Society is a long-lasting and resilient one and, fundamentally, a greener one.


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1. civil society and climate change Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges society faces. Environmental organisations have been working to secure progress on this challenge for many years and climate change is now part of political debate and public consciousness. But our work has not yet delivered the level of ambition, commitment or action needed to tackle the threat that climate change presents. Or to realise the opportunities that addressing it offers – in the form of warmer homes, greener places to live, sustainable, resilient communities and a more resource efficient economy with new, low carbon jobs. This challenge is not just an environmental one; it will affect the entire fabric of our society as we know it. Climate change presents a fundamental threat to many of the issues that civil society organisations hold dear. It will hit the poorest and most vulnerable in our society hardest and fastest, challenge our efforts to tackle poverty and health problems and exacerbate social and economic inequalities. Tackling it offers the opportunity to help achieve existing goals and future proof efforts to build more resilient communities, stronger local economies and a more equitable society. To help address climate change and to seize these opportunities we need the whole of civil society to demand more from decision makers and to support the people they work with in making changes in their own lives.

“The risks are that policies come under environmental headings and the third sector says ‘nothing to do with us’. Yet the ramifications will impact them and their stakeholders.” – Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society in the UK & Ireland (staff insight)

“We haven’t got a track record of climate change work. But we’re the organisation responsible for implementing the convention of the rights of the child and it’s a huge issue in terms of our ability to deliver that.” – UNICEF “It’s very hard to find something with a climate change impact that doesn’t also have a wider social or economic impact, so we make those links.” – SEC

The government’s Big Society ambitions provide another compelling motive to mainstream action on climate change across civil society. There is a great deal of anticipation about the potential for civil society organisations to help build the Big Society, by working on projects that meet local needs, build local skills, empower people to take action and hold decision makers to account. Civil society organisations are central to supporting communities in identifying and pursuing their ambitions. Understanding how climate change will impact on those ambitions and existing concerns is imperative, as is understanding how action to tackle climate change can help deliver wider objectives. It is vital that

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“There is potential, but we need a better vision of what third sector organisations that aren’t environmental specialists can achieve and work towards.” – NAVCA

efforts to deliver a bigger and better society also deliver a more sustainable and resilient one. Recognition of the links between climate change and different issues has been growing over the past two years. But the scale of non-environmental civil society engagement with climate change is still relatively low. Many organisations continue to see the issue as something quite separate to their core work. This context informed our study, which aimed to identify ways of increasing the number and range of organisations engaged with climate change.

This study “There has been some progress on awareness and small scale responses but not a lot on what climate change will mean for non-environmental parts of civil society and their stakeholders.” – anonymous


During the second half of 2009 Green Alliance explored the landscape of civil society activity on climate change. The study covered 222 organisations and 242 activities, drawing on a comprehensive survey, a one day workshop, desk research and 36 in-depth interviews. The results are presented and analysed here. Our focus was on understanding action by non-environmental organisations, but some environmental organisations took part, mainly those that have been working in partnership with non-environmental organisations. For further details of the study and its methodology please see chapter 3 and annex 1. This report goes on to: explore the key roles for civil society organisations on climate change examine the different types of activity underway analyse their distribution and the degree to which they reflect progress towards a civil society aware of the relevance of climate change to their core work and demanding more from decision makers in response identify the success factors critical to civil society mainstreaming action on climate change discuss what success looks like and challenges that may still lie ahead ■ ■ ■

what do we mean by civil society? Civil society can mean many things. NCVO defines it broadly as “people acting together independently of the state or the market to make a positive difference to their lives and/or the lives of others”. It puts the number of civil society organisations in the UK at 900,000.1 Civil society is also a space. A sphere for public debate about the kind of society we want and an arena for demanding more of decision makers to ensure that we secure it. In this report we look at civil society organisations as ones focused on creating a fair society through social, participatory, environmental and cultural objectives. This includes charities, voluntary and community organisations, trade unions, social enterprises, co-operatives, mutuals and housing associations.


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2. why is civil society important in tackling climate change? The new politics of climate change (Green Alliance, 2008)2 makes the case that ambitious action on climate change requires us to escape a catch-22 in which business, government and individuals are all looking to each other for leadership. The public is not entirely convinced of the need to act as they do not see visible government action commensurate with the scale of the threat outlined in their rhetoric. Government is hesitant about taking bolder action out of concern that they lack a public mandate to do so. And business looks to government for a level playing field and certainty that the policy environment will support their investments in tackling climate change and developing low carbon products, jobs and skills. All three actors find themselves in a catch-22 “The key is to engage non-environmental which has prevented action at the scale and speed necessary voluntary organisations on the basis that to tackle climate change. climate change is going to affect what

they’re trying to do. I see that as the necessary step towards a much more articulate and powerful set of voices adding to the pressure on government to act.” – The Baring Foundation

Civil society has the potential to unlock that, as expressed in the diagram below. With its range of issues and activities, routes to influence and relationships with different beneficiaries, stakeholders and members of the public, it is incredibly well placed to influence government and business and to support individuals and communities in taking action.

Unlocking this is not just a role for environmental organisations. It requires a response from the whole of civil society. There is growing recognition of climate change as a social justice issue with manifold impacts across health, poverty, inequality, the economy and the needs of the vulnerable. As these links become clearer so does the imperative to act.

fig.2 the catch-22, each group looks to the other for leadership on climate change

central and local government operates social enterprises and influences the actions of other businesses

campaigns and influences

civil society

consumers and individuals


enables individuals to act together, changing behaviour and lobbying government and others to take action

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Voice and influence “There will always be a role for the two things the third sector has done best – pressing those in power to do more and inspiring change on the ground.” – SEC

When it comes to tackling climate change, civil society’s most important role is its voice and ability to influence action by government and business. Civil society has always played an important role in shaping debate about the kind of world we want and in holding government to account. As increasing numbers of organisations recognise the impacts that climate change will have on their core concerns, the most important role they can play is demonstrating the weight and breadth behind the calls for action. Their variety and ability to use different channels of influence is a key strength of broader civil society action. The secretary of state for energy and climate change expects to hear calls for action on climate change from environmental groups. But the minister of state for children and families will increasingly be lobbied by key stakeholders about how their department is recognising and acting on the implications of climate change for children, and the secretary of state for health on how the health and climate change agendas can be better integrated. These diverse voices using their existing channels of influence will be very powerful. Efforts of this kind will see action on climate change rise up the agendas of a variety of decision makers and help mobilise more joined-up and ambitious action by government. Many organisations will find that integrating calls for action across their existing advocacy work and taking the message to their key audiences will be the most effective way to respond. For others, it may be easier to channel their voice through umbrella or membership bodies.

Supporting behaviour change “The third sector is key to enabling people to live the lives they want within different constraints and in campaigning and holding government to account about the social impacts of decisions that will have to be made over the next few years.” – CDF

Civil society also has a vital role in encouraging and supporting behaviour change among individuals and communities. A number of approaches to tackling climate change depend on individuals making choices in their own lives about the way they run their homes, shop, travel and use resources. The government must ensure that the infrastructure needed to support these changes is in place, but they recognise that they are not best placed to encourage people to change their behaviour.

In contrast, civil society organisations operate from a position of trust. Between them, organisations are routinely communicating with a huge range of individuals and communities and have developed a unique understanding of the kinds of messages that resonate with their stakeholders. Often they are already speaking to people about behaviours of some kind, perhaps in relation to health, ways of improving their local area or managing vulnerability. As more such organisations identify the links between their core work and climate change they are well placed to integrate a discussion about pro-environmental behaviour change into their conversations as a way of addressing the threat it presents to their ambitions. Such diverse and tailored approaches are more likely to gain traction than communications from government or environmental groups. The on-going nature of their


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interaction also means that behaviours are more likely to be sustained over the long-term, as they benefit from collective support and positive reinforcement. Supporting and encouraging behaviour change is an essential complement to influencing policy. As growing numbers of people make pro-environmental choices it provides an increasingly powerful demonstration to government that there is public support for action, which will reinforce the demands being made by civil society organisations in their influencing role.

“I’m hoping that the government will see that people want to change and will put ambitious policies in place, which they know are not going to be rejected because a good chunk of the population has already decided that it’s what we want.” – Lewes Transition Town “Influencing public opinion on climate change is important but it’s also about influencing people’s behaviour as well.” – Campaign for Better Transport

Embedding action As understanding grows about the impacts of climate change on a wide range of civil society concerns, embedding action across an organisation’s work will be the other key response. This involves an organisation looking across its work programmes and thinking about how an awareness of climate change’s impacts can inform project delivery, the development of new ideas, communications with stakeholders and advocacy strategies on a range of issues.

“It’s definitely been a work in progress and not straightforward. Internally there have been questions and a lack of clarity around what it means to say we’re working on climate change.” – children and young people’s organisation

Organisations with past experience of integrating action on other issues across their work offer a realistic understanding of the time and commitment it requires. Tearfund had a focus over 10 years on integrating a response to HIV across all their programmes. They are now at the point of feeling it is genuinely embedded rather than something to constantly remember and can reflect on this experience as they look to achieve the same on climate change. Their experience and others like NCB (see case study on p.21) will be of great value in supporting organisations in understanding what it takes to genuinely embed action on climate change across their work. The remainder of this report explores the study and its results in more detail, examining whether civil society organisations are taking on the key roles discussed above.

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3. what is actually going on? 3.1

Scene setting – how well do people think that civil society is doing?

Two questions in our online survey asked about current performance on climate change activities; one about civil society as a whole and one about individual organisations. As recently as last year the term “third sector” was a more commonly used phrase than it is now, so the survey used that language.

how well do you think your organisation is performing on its climate change aims and activities?


2% not at all well



how well do you think the third sector as a whole is performing in tackling the issue of climate change?

2% 9%



2% 4% 24%



not very well




2% not at all well

18% not very well


averagely quite well

quite well very well



very well



Most survey respondents were involved in climate change activity of some kind, so they tended to have a more positive view of their own organisation’s activities than those of the sector as a whole. Although many acknowledged that they could be doing more, or that they were at early stages of thinking the issue through. Positive comments recognised the fairly high levels of general awareness of climate change. But the majority noted the difficulties with time, money and other barriers, which prevented them focusing on it more. Given the findings we discuss in chapter 4 it is likely that visible environmental policies in offices and the like would lead a lot of people to feel that their organisation is doing ‘quite well’, or that the sector is doing ‘averagely well’. It is not necessarily an indication of efforts to identify links between core mission and climate change, particularly as several respondents noted their view that the majority of the sector hasn’t really made the link between climate change and strategic aims.


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how hopeful are you for the future success of your organisation in tackling the issue of climate change? 1%

% 9%

not at all hopeful


how hopeful are you for the future success of the third sector as a whole in tackling the issue of climate change? 1%



not very hopeful

21% 23%



1% 7%



not very hope






quite hopeful very hopeful

not at all hop


42% 41%


quite41% hopeful very hopeful

Several people felt quite positively about the likely future success of their organisation in tackling climate change, feeling that the necessary leadership and appetite of different audiences is growing and will help to drive change. But funding and concern that there is little understanding of how their organisation can make a difference are still risks. The large number of undecideds suggests that people are confident about their own organisations doing more but have far less confidence in the wider sector.

3.2 Activities underway Civil society action on climate change takes a variety of forms. This study revealed action on climate change under the categories listed below. They were developed during the analysis of the material gathered. Each type of activity is described in this chapter, along with a case study. Their distribution is then set out and analysed in chapter 4. The types of activity are listed here in order of frequency:

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

reducing organisational footprint raising awareness about climate change making links between climate change and other issues information, training, support or advice provision influencing policy on climate change – local, regional or national leadership by umbrella/membership bodies encouraging behaviour change community action campaigning developing future climate leaders research adaptation new partnerships between environmental and non-environmental organisations embedding action across an organisation’s work

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It is important to note that activities are counted under all the categories relevant to their work, rather than only being allocated to one. The implications of the degree to which organisations are doing different combinations of activities is discussed further in the analysis of the findings. In total, 242 activities are covered by the analysis. For more details on the methodology see annex 1.

Reducing organisational footprint

“We can’t implement really big changes like replacing inefficient electric heaters with gas central heating because the capital outlay is too big.” – development organisation

This category covers all activities aiming to reduce the impacts of an organisation’s operation. They range from minimal efforts to do things like reduce plastic bag use through to inspiring examples like that of Disability Essex (see case study below). Overall, most respondents fall between these two extremes with policies in place to recycle and use fair trade tea and coffee and some going further to look more comprehensively at energy use and transport decisions. Most were motivated by a general feeling of responsibility with a lot also mentioning the economic incentives of reducing energy use. Frequently mentioned barriers to greater action included operating from rented or older properties, upfront costs for bigger measures and staff apathy. Another issue is the degree to which organisations have a benchmark. Some survey respondents with a fairly basic set of measures in place feel they do more than others, whilst others doing quite a lot are more aware of what else could be done.

case study – Disability Essex Disability Essex has taken a comprehensive approach to reducing the impact of its activities, constructing their new building to the highest environmental standards and incorporating design features that meet the needs of their beneficiaries. They are motivated by a recognition that vulnerable people are more at risk from climate change and the need to ensure longevity for their new premises. Heating costs are higher for buildings with disabled users, so eco-efficient design is a means to manage the risk of rising energy costs and water scarcity. Their building is a passivhaus design that creates 95 per cent less emissions than a conventional equivalent and has only 10 per cent of the heating costs. Disability Essex has also gone further than tackling their footprint and has integrated environmental issues into their core work. They train disabled people in sustainable construction, equipping them with skills that will have continued demand in future. They also use their new building to communicate with beneficiaries about climate change and its impacts.


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“We have no policy or green group and we’ve done no audit or reflection on our activities whatsoever. It’s remarkable given it is core to our work.” – a foundation “When everyone is very pressured it can be quite difficult to enforce good practice in something as simple as recycling without appearing like the mad woman who polices the bins!” – voluntary development agency

case study – Indian Gymkhana Club This London club has solar panels to generate electricity and all refurbishments and planned new buildings incorporate a number of sustainable features. They are currently exploring the installation of a ground source heat pump and managing their food waste sustainably. The club’s honourary secretary faced initial barriers in driving these efforts, as there were other spending priorities, but the reputational appeal of being the greenest club in England was persuasive. Even so, despite the club’s potential to encourage action among its members, engage fellow sports clubs with the issues and share their eco-refurbishment experience, they do not have capacity to invest in communications. Even their local council was unaware of their great example and details of their green approach do not feature on their website. This demonstrates the importance of outreach by organisations that are taking a lead and the need to explore how larger membership bodies and the like could better support organisations for whom this is a challenge.

Raising awareness about climate change Activities under this category include strategic efforts to build awareness among members or stakeholders, occasional activities such as talks and displays at community events or schools, and groups who recognise that their efforts to reduce their impacts raises awareness among colleagues or the people who use their facilities. All the activities aim to prompt an initial awareness that climate change is an important issue that individuals and communities can take action on. There were a few activities that are very innovative in the way they are raising awareness of climate change, many of them involving young people. This creative approach to raising awareness is a useful way of reaching new audiences and working with different partners, so is an approach worth exploring.

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case study – pitch for change This Dragon’s Den style initiative sees twenty Envision school teams pitch their plans for social and environmental projects to a panel of business and community leaders. School teams form at the start of the academic year and develop their ideas through discussion and games, supported by Envision staff and training volunteer facilitators. Now in its second year, Pitch for Change is a great way for teams to up their ambition, as well as to gain experience of preparing a professional pitch and presenting it to experts and peers. Teams can bid for up to £500 and face a grilling from experts like the co-founder of the Leon food chain and the director of corporate risk at EDF. Many of the projects aim to raise awareness about environmental issues in innovative ways, such as fashion shows. They make links between the environment and other issues, like poverty, or reach out to other parts of the community that young people feel they don’t engage with enough, such as older people. The project also develops young people’s ability to be climate leaders.

case study – eco-thunder kid Pan Intercultural Arts works with young people to explore how the arts can inspire and support social change. In late 2009 they worked with refugee and asylum seekers aged 5 – 14 years on their idea of developing an eco superhero for Camden. In the process the young people learnt about heroes from around the world and about recycling, through a visit to a recycling facility. They developed Eco-Thunder Kid, a superhero who uses his powers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, combat pollution and help animals and people in need. Their sculpture made from recycled materials was displayed in Russell Square Gardens. To ensure a legacy for the project the participants are now working with Camden Recycling and the Cartoon Gallery to create a cartoon strip inspired by the superhero. This will be used as an educational tool to raise awareness about environmental issues in the local community. This project is also a fantastic example of an activity making links between different issues and developing future climate leaders.



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Making links “When we launched our sustainability activities two years ago people asked what it had to do with art. Now it is accepted and the questions are more about how can we get art to usefully engage in a manner beneficial to the environment.” – Arcola Theatre

Activities that make links between climate change and other issues are fundamental to securing wider civil society engagement with climate change and helping to build a broad base for action and influence. Making links was either a central aspect or an element of a good number of activities covered in the study. They ranged from projects where it was the main aim to those where the success of engaging stakeholders relied on organisations making links between climate change and issues of more immediate concern. For example, quite a few organisations talked about the need to present climate change as an issue with social and economic relevance when trying to raise awareness about it. The study revealed organisations undertaking this type of activity themselves, as well as umbrella organisations or groups of organisations examining the links between climate change and other issues and then looking to share that understanding more widely.

“Initially there’s a bit of surprise that UNICEF is starting to work on climate change. But as soon as you start to explore it, particularly the intergenerational justice angle and the fact that children are already most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, it moves from being an environmental issue to a human rights and child rights issue.” – Unicef

case study – improving reach into excluded communities The Federation for Community Development Learning (FCDL) was initially contacted by emerging Transition Town networks in Bristol interested in improving their accessibility to often excluded black and ethnic minority community members. At the same time, they had been delivering community development learning programmes to Manchester Refugee Network members, which involved exploring practical ways of linking refugee led actions to environmental action. As part of their work on the diversity strand of Every Action Counts, FCDL delivered a programme involving both networks, as well as interested members of the Migrant English Project in Brighton, with learning visits and networking opportunities. Bringing together the collective insights of all participants and supporting exchange between different starting points was key to the dialogue and is a good example of the kinds of new partnerships we discuss elsewhere in the report. Those involved used community development approaches to identify ways of supporting environmental action that are based on the everyday lives, interests and struggles of ordinary people, challenge the causes of underlying inequalities and are inclusive and accessible.

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case study – carbon addict “Many of our volunteers take part because they enjoy it, but they’ve not necessarily made the link between work like planting trees for shade and climate change. We aim to make those links a lot more transparent.” – BTCV

The Carbon Addict is a humorous, cartoon based website that cites the symptoms, behaviours, diagnosis and management of ‘carbon dependence syndrome’ – i.e. the consequences and complications of living a high carbon lifestyle. The website ( is targeted at health care professionals and written in language familiar to them. It aims to get people thinking about the links between health and climate change and to signpost them to the evidence underpinning the links. More broadly, it aims to encourage students and clinicians to use the knowledge in clinical practice, dedicating more time to supporting patients in making lifestyle changes that benefit their health and the environment. The Carbon Addict was originally developed by the Campaign for Greener Healthcare as an educational tool for medical students. It became public in 2008 with the support of The Climate Connection. Its popularity has spread through word of mouth, serialisation in e-newsletters and promotion by Medsin UK’s healthy planet campaign, as well as through use in teaching, journals and presentations on greening healthcare. The website is a great example of an activity making links between climate change and another issue in an innovative and humorous way and in language familiar to its audience.

Information, training, support and advice services A number of organisations recorded activities that provide stakeholders with information on climate change and actions they can take to reduce their own or their organisation’s impact. Some activities include support and advice focused on specific issues, such as community building retrofit or integrating sustainability into local planning decisions. Other activities support organisations in better understanding what climate change means for their work. This can take the form of publications, information on websites, advice lines and the like. Any training activities that aim to increase an organisation’s ability to tackle climate change are also included in this category. These activities are distinct from more general awareness raising as they aim to meet a need and support those interested in learning or doing more. But there is overlap and many activities have an element of both. Umbrella organisations tend to be important providers of this type of activity, as organisations turn to them for support on a variety of issues and are increasingly doing so in regard to climate change.


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case study – greening village halls Village and community halls provide a facility for social, recreational and cultural activity as well as a meeting place and focus for local community participation. Because of their visibility in the community and the range of activities and groups they host, improving their environmental performance can be an important way of demonstrating the positive benefits of action on climate change and individual behaviour change. As halls often face challenging funding conditions, reducing their impact can also pay dividends in the form of reduced energy costs. Members of the Rural Community Action Network, together with its national body, ACRE, support such activities via the provision of tailored information and advice to village hall management committees. This is delivered locally through a national network of 40 village hall advisers. They are based in local member organisations and can provide one-to-one advice on improving energy efficiency and helping with energy audits, as well as sharing best practice. ACRE also provides a range of information sheets, such as How green is your hall?. They contain guidance on government initiatives, solutions for managing public buildings and signposts to other advice.

case study – Charity Finance Directors Group (CFDG) In 2009 CFDG produced Sustainability in Practice: monitoring and reporting. This best practice guide explores the reasons that charities start looking at sustainability and makes the case that “early and strategic embedding of sustainability within charities will enhance their ability to deliver their mission”. It explores what embedding sustainability in an organisation’s work involves from a charity finance point of view. It also has guidance on assessing impacts and the steps needed to develop a framework for environmental and sustainability reporting. This is a good example of the role that umbrella bodies can play, with CFDG proactively exploring the issue and providing their members with information that is relevant and tailored to their roles with organisations, as well as signposting them to other resources. It also takes an open approach to the issues, looking at how to embed action within an organisation, rather than just focusing on reducing the footprint of activities.

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Influencing policy

“Climate change needs to be tackled quite quickly and we should be using our wealth of real-life experience to change policies and drive political leadership.” – membership organisation

Activities here range from direct efforts by an organisation’s policy team to influence decision makers, local groups influencing decision making in their area and national organisations involving members in policy influence through petitions. The activities reflect an encouraging range of organisations seeking to influence policy on climate change through their existing routes of influence and/or seeking to introduce climate concerns into existing policy debates. For example, NCB is discussing children and young people’s needs relating to sustainable transport with the Department for Transport and the Department for Education.

case study – planning to live with climate change The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has recognised that choices about the way communities are planned, designed and built has repercussions in future, and sees planning as a positive mechanism to help deliver a sustainable future. Having identified these links between their work and climate change, RTPI has also recognised their role in influencing decision makers in response. They worked with members to develop seven commitments on climate change. These include promoting behavioural change, adapting existing places, celebrating and sharing best practice, improving current practice, developing climate change education and skills and working towards responsive legislation and policies. Many of them involve influencing policy. For example, work under the last principle involves identifying how best planning legislation and policies can support sustainable development and taking proposals for change to government. RTPI officers also assess all new policies and regulations for their climate change impact.

Leadership by umbrella bodies and membership organisations Umbrella bodies are membership organisations that play a supporting,

coordinating or development role within civil society. They operate at both the national level and the sub-sectoral level, for example representing organisations working on the same issue. They are henceforth referred to as ‘umbrella bodies’.

Umbrella bodies have a critical role in making the links between climate change and the issues that their members care about, with significant potential to cascade information and catalyse action. This key role is discussed in more detail in chapter 5.1. Activities in this category include national umbrella bodies integrating action on climate change into their work and starting to


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“The role of some very large trusted membership organisations that don’t have an environmental remit in spreading the word is incredibly important.” – SEC

talk to their members about it. They also include efforts by organisations working in different parts of the sector to lead the process of making links between climate change and specific issues of concern, for example between children’s issues and climate change. The other aspect to this category is organisations with large individual memberships starting to talk about climate change and its relevance to their work – for example, large development NGOs talking to their members about the links between third world poverty and climate change.

case study – leadership in the children and young people’s sector

“Leadership is a very important opportunity for us. Our members listen to and read what we and our general secretary are saying. He’s sensitive to that opportunity and the responsibility to keep this issue alive for our members, to join up the dots and show them how sustainability will help us all.” – UNISON

NCB supports children, young people and families, and those who work with them, across England and Northern Ireland. They are an excellent example of an organisation that is enabling greater engagement with climate change across their sector. They recognised the impacts of climate change on children now and in the future and, ultimately, their chief executive feels that “if we are not (engaging with climate change as part of our mission) we are nowhere”. In response they have built the sustainable lifestyle and climate change agendas into their work and reached out to engage their members and peers. To facilitate dialogue with other organisations and to build alliances across the sector NCB developed a children’s third sector working group on sustainable development, the environment and climate change. Positive benefits cited by members include the development of new ideas and partnerships and increased capacity to act as champions on the issues within their own organisations. NCB has also taken a lead in exploring the language and approaches to sustainable living and climate change that resonate in their sector, inviting children and young people to frame it themselves in their One Step, One World Charter. They have been raising awareness through events, publications and their monthly Climate Connections ebulletin for the children’s sector. They have also developed productive partnerships with environmental organisations, whose expertise they can draw on in understanding the relevance of climate change to their work. Looking ahead, they would like to develop more of an evidence base on the impact of climate change on children and young people in the UK, to facilitate effective planning for their needs now and in the future.

Encouraging behaviour change Activities under this category focus on encouraging or supporting people to change their behaviour. They range from efforts to engage staff in reducing organisational impact, campaigns aimed at the general public promoting behaviour changes, such as 10:10, activities that promote personal behaviour change as part of wider efforts to tackle climate change, and activities directly aimed at engaging communities or stakeholders with sustainable behaviour changes.

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case study – degrees cooler This National Union of Students (NUS) initiative aims to encourage pro-environmental behaviour change at 20 universities in England. Going to university is a time of change in people’s lives, which the NUS sees as an opportune moment to help create and embed new, greener habits. Focusing on younger people also offers the potential to create habits that students will carry into adulthood, heading off the need to tackle problems later on. Their approach has various forms and partners: People and Planet are coordinating grassroots, student led behaviour change projects Student Switch Off is managing an energy saving competition between halls of residence The Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) are encouraging staff to get involved in Green Impact, a project enabling them to form teams to green their departments from the bottom up Studentforce for Sustainability has recruited greener living assistants to encourage pro-environmental behaviours amongst staff and students at the Degrees Cooler universities ■

case study – for tomorrow too Tearfund argues that Christianity’s entreaty to love our neighbours is not reflected in our actions, as the way we live in the developed world harms our neighbours in poorer countries. This simple argument illustrates the powerful links between international poverty and climate change and provides a compelling motivation for members to take action through campaigning and changes in their own lives. Tearfund promotes individual action through its pocket-sized booklet For Tomorrow Too which gives a practical summary of climate change, its impacts and ways to take action. The Carbon Fast is a resource for Lent that provides daily carbon-cutting actions and prayers and both give a biblical baseline for action on climate change. Tearfund’s overall communications have integrated climate change into the messages aimed at different audiences and on different issues so that their connections become more obvious. Presenting climate change as a social justice, a development and a poverty challenge has been key to this. They did also offer a carbon footprint calculator but did not feel it led to as many campaigning actions or pledges to change behaviour as hoped. So developing clear action points for supporters is their longer-term ambition, dependent on resources.



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Community action Our study has focused on activity at the national level but some community activities were captured. They included activities by individual local groups, as well as awareness raising or behaviour change activities by national groups working at the local level around the UK. We looked at community activity in more detail in a local mapping study, which provides insight into activity in two areas of the UK. The findings are discussed in the local supplement to this report (p.58 onwards).

case study – carbon army This initiative acts on BTCV’s belief that communities are willing to take action on climate change when given the opportunity. It demonstrates to volunteers that the abstract threat of climate change is something with local relevance that they can respond to in practical ways. They currently have 30,000 volunteers undertaking 90,000 volunteer workdays a year doing things like planting trees to lock up carbon or managing a water course to reduce flood risk. Carbon Army represents a major strategic objective alongside BTCV’s goals for improved health through their green gym and for employment and skills for the future, through their training and employment programmes. The army is moving on to focus on local food and has already seen more than double the number of volunteers expected, indicating the strength of an approach that makes climate change an issue people can tackle on the ground. BTCV aims to support 1.5 million people in becoming environmental citizens over the next four years. Presenting their activities as ones with both social and environmental benefits is an important aspect of success and they also aim to capitalise on the potential for involvement in practical volunteering to spill over into pro-environmental behaviour change.

Campaigning Campaigning activities include initiatives such as charities asking their supporters to sign petitions or write to their MPs on particular issues. Activities of this type are a way for civil society organisations to influence government and demonstrate the strength of demand behind their calls for action. Many of the activities recorded are being done by ‘traditional’ campaigning organisations such as Amnesty International or Friends of the Earth, which routinely reach out to mobilise their members and ask them to take campaigning actions. Others include newer but very successful campaigns like 10:10, Avaaz and 38 degrees.

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case study – is an international online advocacy community taking a new approach to campaigning that is not issue specific and aims to put people across the world at the centre of global decision making. It empowers people to contribute their individual efforts online, which combine to form collective international campaigns. In three years it has grown to 5.5 million members worldwide and organised almost 10,000 campaign events including rallies, flash mobs, vigils and marches. They have had a range of campaign successes. On the cusp of a critical decision related to the Amazonian rainforest in June 2009, Avaaz members in Brazil made 14,000 phone calls and sent 30,000 online messages in two days to President Lula’s office calling for the reversal of a law that would hand much of the Amazon rainforest to agribusiness for exploitation. Public pressure succeeded, preventing huge amounts of deforestation and protecting the Amazon’s key role in absorbing greenhouse gases.

case study – climate justice campaign In 2009 CAFOD mobilised its supporters around efforts to secure progress at the December 2009 climate change conference in Copenhagen. Whilst the conference had a disappointing outcome, CAFOD’s campaign saw the highest levels of supporter action since their involvement in Make Poverty History. CAFOD had been working internally since 2008 to articulate to supporters why climate change matters. The links were clear, with climate change being expressed as a justice issue on which their member’s Catholic faith and care for creation provided a strong rationale for taking action. CAFOD’s key goal was to encourage government to take ambitious action and the Climate Justice campaign aimed to help secure that. They sent out campaign postcards and developed an online feature encouraging supporters to contact the prime minister, demanding that he did all he could to secure a fair international deal on climate change in Copenhagen. The campaign also involved sending emails about climate finance to the Treasury and a strand aimed at engaging young people. In total, CAFOD supporters sent 60,0000 campaign cards and other actions demanding progress and many members took part in the Wave march on climate change.



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Developing leaders Activities in this category empower young people, providing them with skills, knowledge and confidence to tackle climate change in their communities and to become advocates for action. Activities also support young people’s ability to influence decision making, either by securing a direct voice for them in the policy making process through initiatives like the UK Youth Climate Coalition, or by influencing on behalf of them.

“Government is keen to target students in further and higher education on the environment because it’s such an influential age group. As with health, it’s much easier to head off issues by tackling them to start with. So if we work with students to encourage them to adopt pro-environmental behaviours in the formative period of their first year in university, then ultimately we’ll be saving ourselves or government a bigger job further down the line.” – NUS

“We’ve seen big increases in young people’s desire to get involved in tackling climate change. When given the right support and knowledge young people can be really good ambassadors in helping other members of the community change their lifestyles.” – Groundwork London

case study – climate squad Global Action Plan set up the Climate Squad in partnership with the Bank of America and V, the national youth volunteers service, in response to a survey in May 2009. It found that 75 per cent of 16-25 year olds saw it as important to do something about climate change as an individual, with 73 per cent interested in volunteering on climate change projects. Rather than assuming that young people are not interested, Climate Squad aims to harness their energy in the climate change debate. The project has supported 300 16-25 year olds in leading community projects to cut carbon. For example, Adam Yasir from Croydon joined Climate Squad wanting to reduce carbon in his local community. He went on to start the Green Hope campaign at his college, recruiting eight other leaders in an eco-team and engaging 13,000 students. Their participation provided them with new skills as community leaders and greater political engagement with climate change, as well as the opportunity to gain a BTEC award in workskills. By bringing young people together it hopes to equip them for a low carbon economy and encourage replication of their innovative ideas.

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Research “We base the policy proposals we call for on research, so we’ve explored what a low carbon transport system would look like and used that to inform our campaigning and lobbying.” – Campaign for Better Transport

A number of organisations recorded research activity focused on better understanding the links between climate change and other issues. Whilst the general links and impacts might be understood, many organisations see a robust, well-researched evidence base of the links between climate change and their issue as an important means of strengthening the case for action they make to their members and to decision makers. Organisations note the challenge of having general conversations about climate change with members or beneficiaries, compared to being able to reference tailored examinations of the links between climate change and the issues they care about.

case study – Joseph Rowntree Foundation research work The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) supports evidence based policy making and practice. They fund research due to its key role in supporting understanding of the underlying causes of social problems and ways of overcoming them. Developing an evidence base and making links between climate change and other issues through research are important aspects of their climate change and social justice programme. It aims to: ■

develop an evidence base of climate change’s social impacts in the UK and how they relate to poverty and disadvantage explore how to support socially just policy and practice responses to climate change so that the vulnerable do not face disproportionately negative impacts support social and technical innovation in response to climate change, for example through supporting sustainable living among tenants of the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust

Adaptation Activities in this category were split between those focused at the local level, helping communities and their local environment plan for changing conditions, and international work by development organisations helping communities overseas adapt to the all too present impacts of climate change. Organisations like Disability Essex, which have radically reduced the footprint of their activities in the face of rising energy costs, can also be seen as working on adaptation. Their efforts to work from an environmentally friendly building are strongly informed by consideration of how best they can continue to meet their beneficiaries’ needs in changing conditions. This study did not reveal many adaptation activities. But this is to be expected given the national focus of the study and the aim of identifying what climate change mitigation activities are underway. So it should not be seen as a genuine reflection of the degree to which adaptation activities are underway.


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“Showing a local area what the impacts on them could be is quite hard hitting and people can immediately relate to it. It’s not just going to be sunnier weather, it’s also going to be freak weather events, wetter, windier summers and associated health risks.” – Groundwork London

“The question of how local communities can adapt to climate change is an increasing focus – demonstrating that it’s not just about changing light bulbs, it’s about how communities will deal with changing conditions, especially those already suffering from deprivation or marginalisation.” – CDF

case study – Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Yorkshire Wildlife Trust manages 85 nature reserves and is also a campaigning organisation that engages people in conserving wildlife habitats before they are lost. But even when habitats are ‘saved’ they can become fragmented and susceptible to ecosystem shocks such as flooding or drought. Climate change represents a large-scale ecosystem shock that requires adaptation to inevitable changes as well as efforts to restore fragmented habitats and to reconnect them though wildlife corridors. This living landscapes approach has led the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to evolve the way it works and to integrate community activities and land management advice and education with their nature reserve management. In doing so it engages communities with local wildlife through working with children and young people to manage greenspace in urban areas, for example. Where relevant, this has also led to them raising awareness about wider issues like climate change and the impacts it will have in their area. This helps make the links for people between their local environment, the steps they are taking to conserve and protect it and seemingly abstract global issues like climate change.

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New partnerships Activities in this category feature partnerships between organisations from different areas of civil society who come together to pursue shared goals or to explore the links between their issues. Such partnerships can be a valuable way for organisations just starting to think about climate change to draw in environmental expertise. The Climate Smart project, working with children and young people’s organisations, and the Big Response, working with vulnerable people, both benefited from bringing organisations in those areas together with organisations working on climate change.3

“If you’re not an environmental NGO, having a good consortium behind you is essential to getting funding to deliver environmental projects. The NUS has a strong brand and exceptional reach, but we needed to partner with environmental specialists like the EAUC and People and Planet.” – NUS

“There is a lot of expertise in the sector about the needs of vulnerable people and, given that climate change is unavoidable, we need to engage that expertise in thinking through how we’re going to cope. These alliances really need to be developed.” – The Baring Foundation

case study – climate solidarity This initiative draws on the trade union ideals of collective action, social justice and solidarity, recognising climate change as a challenge that people can act on together. The initiative is a partnership of four trade unions and a climate change charity. The National Union of Teachers, the University and College Union, the Public and Commercial Services Union and the Communications Workers Union between them represent almost a million UK employees. Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN) complements the ability of trade unions to reach members with their experience of working with people to understand, communicate and act on climate change. The project encourages people to form action groups with colleagues or friends to support each other in cutting carbon at home and at work. Climate Solidarity offers free training, activity materials, and ongoing support. It acknowledges the range of motivations people have – whether it’s strengthening the trade union voice on the transition to a low carbon economy, supporting individuals in doing their bit, or demonstrating the potential economic benefits of taking action.



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case study – the roundtable on climate change and poverty This initiative recognised the links between climate change and poverty and sought to address the fact that efforts to tackle them have operated separately. Climate change will affect the poorest and most vulnerable harder as, among other things, they have less resilience to rising energy costs and tend to live in poorer quality, less efficient housing. The roundtable’s first report, published in 2009, highlighted policies and approaches with the potential to tackle climate change and poverty together. Examples include:

tackling household energy efficiency to reduce emissions and fuel poverty investing in community projects that help build resilience to climate change planning for the transition to a low carbon economy and its potential for green job creation promoting low-carbon approaches to health, diet and transport that support social justice

Pooling the expertise of groups working on poverty or climate change and collectively identifying connections and solutions was a key driver for Nef and Oxfam, who convened the group. It built productive new partnerships and created a basis for such groups to work together in future.

Embedding action across an organisation This type of activity refers to organisations that are taking a strategic look at how climate change relates to their core focus and ways of embedding action on it across their work. Taking the time to explore such links and embed action, however disconnected issues may seem initially, is one of the most important ways in which organisations will become motivated to add their voices to calls for action, to leverage their opportunities for influence and to engage their members or beneficiaries with the issue. But there are a lot of challenges and organisations may consider doing this but end up deciding that they do not have the time or resources to do so.

“Our goal for the next five years will be to complement what young people pick up at school and learn from the media, and to have it embedded in our programmes. Climate change should have its own identity and profile as a main programme for our organisation.” – children and young people’s organisation

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“We have responded quite well in terms of supporting individuals and groups working on the issue, but we have not been so good at looking at the issue internally due to funding issues.” – Novas Scarman

“We recently had a one hour session discussing whether and how the climate change agenda should be factored into our work. It was generally felt that it should, but we already have capacity issues so it may not be realistic.” – consumer rights organisation

“We’re still struggling to see how we make it more cross-cutting across the rest of what the organisation does.” – CDF

case study – Arcola theatre The Arcola Theatre aims to be the UK’s first carbon neutral theatre. This ambition is totally integrated into their theatrical and community work and provides an inspiring example of efforts to embed action on climate change across an organisation’s work. Arcola has examined every aspect of their theatre’s operation, from the impacts of their lighting, the food in the cafe and the reuse of scenery. They aim to inspire staff and theatregoers to consider their own actions, with green living tips on their website. And they recognise their potential to support fellow theatres in becoming more sustainable, running events for them and providing detailed, tailored information, such as directions to a website that enables scenery salvage. They also maximise their outreach into the community, hosting Green Sundays that combine discussions of environmental issues with artistic activities, engaging new audiences with environmental issues and making the link between them and the arts. Finally, they add their voice to efforts to influence decision makers by signing up to relevant pledges and campaigns. Their planned new premises will not only reflect all of these aspects, it will further Arcola’s efforts to actively develop the kinds of technologies that will enable theatres to become carbon neutral. As well as theatre and studio space, the vegetarian café and bike shed, the new Arcola will include the first centre for energy technology in the arts. This ground breaking facility will be a dedicated work space where engineers can develop initiatives that tackle climate change, bringing together artistic, entrepreneurial and technological creativity. This will complement their already boundary pushing work to develop fuel cell lighting that works for theatres and their increasing commissions to share their expertise with other entertainment events, like the Latitude festival.



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4. activities analysis How far does the distribution of activities reflect a civil society that has grasped the fundamental links between climate change and its many other issues of core concern? How far does it reflect organisations using their voice to influence decision makers in government and business to act on climate change? And how far does it reflect organisations supporting behaviour change, in line with the changes they wish to see in national policy? Getting a handle on a complex, seemingly unrelated issue like climate change is a challenge under any circumstances. Carving out the time and energy to do so in the face of funding pressures, whilst continuing to meet the needs of beneficiaries and remain focused on core work makes it harder still. It is with this in mind that we have analysed the activities underway. This chapter highlights key aspects of the distribution of activities across the categories set out in chapter 3 before going on to identify the success factors for organisations in meaningfully engaging with climate change. The chart below reflects the number of each type of activity recorded across the 222 organisations involved and the 242 activities recorded. Activities are counted under all the categories relevant to their work, rather than only being allocated to one.

fig.3 distribution of activities reducing reducing footprint footprint raising raising awareness awareness making making links links info, info, training, training, support support or advice or advice influencing influencing policy policy leadership leadership by by umbrella/ umbrella/ membership membership bodies bodies encouraging encouraging behaviour behaviour change change community community action action campaigning campaigning developing developing future future climate climate leaders leaders research research adaptation adaptation new new partnerships partnerships embedding embedding action action

105105 89 89 57 57 51 51 43 43 39 39 34 34 26 26 23 23 20 20 20 20 15 15 14 14 10 10

Is it a journey? An initial look at the distribution seems to suggest a journey that organisations go through. Tackling their own footprint is a first step, they go on to making links between their core work and climate change, through to influencing policy and supporting behaviour change and ending with action to tackle climate change embedded across their work. But can we rely on this step by step process? Unfortunately, a variety of evidence from the study suggests that this would be too simplistic an assumption to make and that one activity does not necessarily lead to another.

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Footprint and awareness as first steps? The very high level of activities to tackle organisational footprint stands out in the activities distribution. It is a natural first step for many organisations starting to think about climate change, as it is a tangible way of addressing a complex issue. Many also see it as necessary for their credibility when talking to others about the need to take action, or as a chance to show leadership and raise awareness. Much of the support and advice on offer in relation to climate change focuses on tackling footprint, and it can attract organisations because of the potential to make “There was quite a high usage for financial savings. our footprint calculator but not for

people going on to make commitments towards lifestyle changes, take campaigning actions or give money towards development projects, which were our main reasons for having it up there.� – Tearfund

All of these reasons help to explain the popularity of this type of activity. Awareness raising activities closely follow. They can also be seen as a manageable way of taking action, for example by drawing on existing information to raise awareness among stakeholders about the need to tackle climate change. But do these activities prompt organisations to consider the more fundamental links between climate change and their core work?

Almost half of the organisations working to tackle their footprint are either only doing that (a third of organisations) or only doing it in combination with awareness raising about ways of tackling footprints (a further 16 per cent of organisations). And only about half of the awareness raising activities are part of a more substantive set of activities that also aim to influence policy or support members, for example. As a result, one of the key features of the distribution of activities is the significant gap between footprint and awareness raising activities and all those below them. Bridging it is key if we are to see action on climate change mainstreamed across civil society.

fig.4 the gap to bridge reducing reducingfootprint footprint raising raisingawareness awareness making makinglinks links info, info,training, training,support supportororadvice advice influencing influencingpolicy policy leadership leadershipbybyumbrella/ umbrella/membership membershipbodies bodies encouraging encouragingbehaviour behaviourchange change community communityaction action campaigning campaigning developing developingfuture futureclimate climateleaders leaders research research adaptation adaptation new newpartnerships partnerships embedding embeddingaction action

105 105 8989 5757 5151 4343 3939 3434 2626 2323 2020 2020 1515 1414 1010

the thegap gaptotobridge bridge


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Umbrella bodies and advice and information Umbrella bodies have an important role to play in raising awareness about climate change among their members and supporting them in taking action. The range of activities grouped under ‘leadership by umbrella bodies’ reflects this. In particular, they have an important role in helping organisations understand the intrinsic links between their core work and climate change and widening their understanding of the action they can take beyond reducing their organisational footprint. This is reflected in the fact that umbrella bodies are delivering a third of the activities under ‘making links’. “Getting trustees to think about Their important role is discussed further in chapter 5.

environmental management systems is important but it’s more about an organisation’s core objectives and how climate change connects with them. It’s very important to embed that discussion in an organisation’s structure and for them to commit to their own action plans in response.” – CSC

Good information and advice can be essential to organisations thinking about climate change. But it is important that it promotes an open approach. It is a relatively small point, but we found that 19 per cent of the support activities underway by umbrella bodies, and 19 per cent of the information and advice activities were focused on footprint reduction. Support of that kind is important but it has the potential to narrow an organisation’s engagement with climate change from the start. It is essential that support, information and advice of different kinds also prompts organisations to consider wider links between climate change and their core mission.

Being vocal on climate change Activities such as influencing policy, campaigning and research are all central to civil society organisations securing greater action on climate change. Taking up such activity largely depends on whether organisations have identified the relevance of climate change to their core work. This is reflected in the distribution of activities, with influencing policy, campaigning and research all falling below activities to make links between climate change and other issues in popularity.

“There is more hesitancy about our role in advocating policy changes and trying to influence politicians. Is that what we should be doing, or are we being too political by entering into these debates?” – membership organisation

A lot of organisations, both in this study and more widely, express hesitancy about influencing policy, so the levels of that activity were higher than expected. This is largely a reflection of the kinds of organisations that took part in the study. Policy influence is already a core activity for many of them, which they have integrated climate change into. The small amount of campaigning activities recorded is more in line with the hesitancy often expressed. Many organisations feel that they lack the skill set to influence policy and campaign or that it is outside their comfort zone, even where they recognise its necessity. The challenge this presents is discussed further in chapter 6.

Umbrella organisations influencing on behalf of their members, research and new partnerships can all help overcome this hesitancy. Evidence-based research and reports that examine the links between climate change and other issues help to engage more organisations and can act as powerful advocacy tools that give organisations the confidence to demand more of decision makers.

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New partnerships have the power to motivate decision makers as they see new coalitions come together around shared concerns. They can also give those involved more confidence that between them they have the right spread of expertise. Given their role in increasing the confidence to influence, the low showing of these types of activity is an area to address. On the positive side, the amount of activities underway to develop future leaders on climate change was interesting. These activities give young people an awareness of the interconnectedness of climate change impacts and build their skills and confidence to take action. As these activities increase in number it suggests that the newer generations of climate change activists will already be well versed in the links between climate change and other issues and much more prepared to exert influence as a means of securing change.

Embedding action across an organisation Ultimately, a recognition of climate change and its impacts on core work should lead to organisations embedding action on it across all their activities. This type of activity was the lowest one recorded, which reflects both the challenges of doing it and how far there is to go on diverse civil society organisations recognising the threat that climate change presents and taking action in response. Having considered the large gap between activities tackling footprint and those making links – and the much larger gap between activities tackling footprint and those embedding action across an organisation – the remainder of this report goes on to identify the key success factors in bridging it.

“If non-environmental organisations could understand that climate change has implications for their core activity and truly build that in to their planning, so that it’s not an add-on or an irritation, but is actually central and driven by their internal beliefs and understanding, that would be a massive step forward.” – Global Action Plan


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5. bridging the gap – success factors This study, as well as our experience in other initiatives, has enabled us to identify the factors that determine the successful engagement of an organisation with climate change. These success factors are key to organisations bridging the gap discussed above. Some of them reflect activities already underway whilst others relate to issues that study participants highlighted as barriers to them taking a more strategic approach. Many of them are interrelated and some of them, such as leadership by umbrella bodies, can help organisations get further success factors in place. This chapter explores each success factor in detail. They are all captured in the diagram below, as well as the leadership roles on climate change that they enable.

fig.5 success factors in civil society organisations engaging with climate change

umbrella leadership relevant info/advice

internal leadership

tackling footprint

making links

research and evidence

right language

new partnerships

smarter funding

5.1 Umbrella body leadership Jump-starting progress Umbrella bodies are ideally placed to jump-start the time intensive process of understanding the relevance of climate change to an organisation’s work. They can help organisations get a number of the success factors discussed in this chapter in place including: ■

identifying and engaging members with the links between climate change and their core work, rather than organisations having to do it individually identifying the language that will resonate with members when talking about climate change – maximising the engagement they secure and

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passing it on for members to use in engaging their stakeholders providing relevant information and support that enables their members to identify and take action on climate change amplifying the voice of their members in decision making facilitating new partnerships doing research and building an evidence base for use in engaging members and influencing decisions ■

■ ■ ■

As a result of their potential to jump-start progress, the role of leadership by umbrella bodies came out very strongly in the study. In particular, leadership by bodies working at a sub-sectoral level, supporting organisations working on similar issues, were seen as essential because of their ability to tailor their approach to the shared concerns of members (see NCB case study p.21). This potential to cascade engagement is a responsibility as well as an opportunity and the importance of being proactive cannot be over-emphasised. The activities of many umbrella bodies are, understandably, developed in response to their members’ needs. But if members are not yet raising the issue it does not lessen the potential impacts of climate change or reduce the value of building in a response across an organisation’s work plan. Umbrella bodies have a responsibility to engage members ahead of time, demonstrate links with core missions and provide information and advice that supports a strategic engagement with climate change.

“Members aren’t asking about sustainability but we need to engage them and stimulate thought and debate about why they need to get involved.” – ACEVO “Organisations often form networks of their own to share expertise. We provide the opportunity to give them a national voice and try and influence policy.” – SEC “The national organisations need to show some unity and vision on this agenda and to work through their memberships to instigate change.” – CSC

A lot of umbrella groups remain hesitant about taking on this role, unsure of the degree to which they require a mandate from members first. This highlights the important point that many umbrella organisations are new to climate change. So there is still work to be done in helping umbrella groups themselves explore the links between climate change and the issues of concern to their members. Taking on their vital role will require support and capacity building, so they are important organisations to focus any such support on, given their potential to cascade engagement and awareness.


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But securing resources for this kind of work can be challenging. Organisations mentioned that it can be much more difficult to secure funding for capacity building compared to more general awareness raising activities like producing leaflets or holding events. This is a particular challenge because the outcomes of supporting capacity building on climate change in umbrella bodies has important knock-on benefits for the organisations they work with, but will not necessarily lead directly to quantifiable carbon savings or behaviour change in the short-term. Developing success measures that recognise the value of increasing the capacity of umbrella bodies on climate change due to their potential to cascade engagement is therefore important.

“We are governed by our members’ needs. We don’t have as many environmental groups among them so it’s not something we focus on.” – umbrella body

“It’s a low priority and we don’t really know what we should be doing.” – umbrella body

A group of funders have recognised the important role of umbrella bodies and the need to support their development. They are in discussion about funding a climate unit based in NCVO that could provide organisations with focused support in engaging with climate change, understanding how it relates to their core work and identifying action they can take. It will be useful if the support NCVO provides has an initial focus on organisations that have an umbrella role in their own areas of civil society. Once their capacity on climate change is built they can provide an important enabling role among the organisations they support.

Moving forward – principles for leadership The key role of umbrella bodies was also identified by the joint ministerial and third sector task force on climate change, the environment and sustainable development in their 2010 report Shaping the future. Government and civil society leaders on the task force jointly explored the issue of how to mobilise diverse civil society action on climate change. The eight umbrella bodies represented on the task force identified principles for action and committed to pursuing them within their own organisations. The principles stand as a useful indication of direction for umbrella bodies starting to think about their role in engaging their members with climate change. Principles for infrastructure body leadership on climate change:4 ■

making explicit commitments – in public – to champion progress on climate change across their networks supporting members to take action on sustainability, and to develop their collaborative capacity in working across sectors to support and lead others including local authorities, public service providers and non-departmental public bodies actively making the links between the environmental, social and economic and demonstrating their relevance within their sub-sector or work area encouraging their members to sign up to this agenda, for example by linking it to an existing code of practice for members, by inclusion in quality standards or via the third sector declaration on climate change developing positive initiatives to integrate sustainability into their overall work through their mission, organisational activities and policy work

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ensuring that all policy initiatives incorporate an awareness of climate change to capitalise on all opportunities to push sustainability up the national policy agenda of government departments, policy institutions, think tanks and academia managing their own assets and supporting their members in adopting best practice in sustainable management and development of assets and facilities

5.2 Internal leadership

“Having people within the organisation who actively drive forward the agenda on climate change has proved to be the cornerstone of our work on the issue.” – BTCV

The importance of internal leadership in organisations considering climate change more strategically came through very strongly. Many noted that this does not have to come from a senior member of staff initially. But there was a high level of consensus that senior staff buy-in is essential to organisations integrating climate change into their long-term planning and work programmes. Senior staff buy-in can also be essential to securing the time needed to consider the implications of climate change for core work in more depth, and their participation in such a process is of even more value. Green Alliance worked with the British Red Cross as part of the Big Response project (exploring what climate change means for organisations working with vulnerable people).5 The involvement of their senior staff in looking at the links between climate change and their core mission was a key element of the project’s success. The main project contact was in the British Red Cross strategy team so the Big Response team was able to engage with their strategy development process and table their proposed action plan at a senior management team meeting. Engagement stayed at a strategic level throughout the project as senior staff looked ahead at the next five years at a point of pivotal change for the organisation.

“Senior management buy-in is critical to allow staff the time to create environmental policies and put new systems into practice.” – Groundwork London “It is hugely important to have individuals drive the agenda within an organisation. Without buy-in from staff, particularly senior management, changes and impact can be slow.” – Young Foundation


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case study – trustee leadership at Equinox

“Our chief executive is very keen to raise the issues more overtly with our audiences, as long as it integrates with our core purpose. She has given us the opportunity to develop a green team internally that will look at what we can do in the head office and at how we can start integrating sustainability into our wider audience groups.” – NCT

Catherine Max is a trustee of Equinox, a social care organisation for people with drug, alcohol and mental health problems. In 2008, Equinox decided to develop a sustainability strategy encompassing social, economic and environmental sustainability, and pursued this in conjunction with other priorities – most notably the development of a service user involvement strategy. Staff and service users responded positively and could see the fit with Equinox’s mission and values. The approach gained most traction when expressed in terms relevant to Equinox, e.g. resource saving, skills development, recovery and resilience. The impetus came from the chief executive, Brian Watts, in response to emerging commissioner expectations. As someone with a personal and professional interest in sustainability, Catherine facilitated discussions about what sustainability meant for Equinox. Board level leadership – trustee and chief executive combined – helped maintain momentum and focus when it was difficult to find time or capacity and to identify practical actions with visible return. It also meant that strategic benefits were consistently articulated. This was complemented by service user leadership, with committed individuals engaging their peers in recycling initiatives, gardening activities and ultimately a user-generated bid to the Ecominds grant programme. Catherine also secured Equinox’s participation in the Big Response project, which gave climate change additional prominence at Equinox and boosted their confidence, as well as using her contacts to showcase Equinox’s achievements and learning externally. Equinox’s experience suggests that there is latent interest and ability in many organisations, and that environmental issues can provide common cause. Given resource pressures, however, this is unlikely to happen without visible and energetic internal leadership and some expertise. Sometimes a trustee may feel the need for ‘permission’ to raise new issues at the board, so leadership by the Charity Commission in promoting environmental governance is welcome.

“It’s very important for a chief executive to really give it a push, absolutely. But there’s a danger in saying that’s all it is. We need to think about the team ethos and distributive leadership qualities. It has to be top to bottom.” – CSC “Leadership is a very good way of getting started but it needs to go beyond the person to institutionalising the commitment.” – London Funders

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Relying on an inspired individual to push forward action on climate change can be risky. Such people can’t be created and if they leave progress could halt. In response, most organisations noted the importance of an understanding about climate change permeating an organisation so that it ceases to rely on a champion pushing it forward. Civil society organisations have an advantage here with their experience of supporting more distributed forms of leadership throughout organisations or communities.

5.3 Making links Making links between climate change and other issues was the third most popular activity and is often a turning point for organisations that provides a compelling imperative for taking action. All of the success factors identified here are important aspects of civil society organisations engaging with climate change, but actually making the links between issues is essential. Some organisations will go through the process themselves. Others will be able to benefit from organisations that have already made the links, identified the language to use and are engaging and mobilising their peers. New partnerships and information and advice tailored to climate change and its relevance to other issues can also play a key role.

“I won’t tell a village hall management committee to save the planet, I’ll talk about things that will make a difference to them and on which they can take action. Things like saving energy and reducing their costs, or sourcing local produce to support local farmers. The hooks vary from group to group.” – ACRE “For our members it knits really tightly with the co-operative values of self help, equality, concern for community and social responsibility. The sector sees the links internationally too, for instance the UK works with agricultural co-operatives in Africa trying to respond to increased drought.” – Co-operatives UK

“Children and young people bring a moral dimension to the debate and the idea that society’s response to this issue is a reflection of how much we care for our children. That starts hitting different buttons, so the children’s sector has a big part to play in mobilising people through their concern for children and young people.” – NCB


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Making links should not just identify the threats that climate change presents to organisations. Whilst they can be a powerful motivator for action, tackling climate change also offers civil society opportunities to achieve strongly held goals. Exploring opportunities as well as threats is therefore essential. The joint ministerial and third sector task force on climate change, the environment and sustainable development recognised this and highlighted the opportunities that tackling climate change offers to: ■

“People can get very depressed by climate change but very excited by the idea of building resilience within their communities.” – Lewes Transition Town

“If we can use climate change to let people remember kindness – kindness to the earth, kindness to each other, kindness to the rest of creation and the rest of life – that’s a really vital thing.” – ARC

create stronger, more resilient communities with more control over their local economy, the way their community develops, the assets they hold, the energy they use and their ability to adapt enable people to live more sustainably and make lifestyle changes that improve their overall quality of life while helping to tackle climate change in the home, at work and in their travel create sustainable public services that better meet the needs of users and reduce carbon emissions. create new jobs, skills and enterprises in areas like energy efficiency and community transport, providing communities with more tailored delivery and creating wider benefits for the local economy and the jobs and skills market 6 The Baring special initiative on climate change consisted of four projects and took a dedicated look at what it takes for non-environmental organisations to understand the links between climate change and their core mission. They had significant levels of success with, for example, the British Red Cross incorporating climate change into its strategic plan, NCB building their capacity to proactively engage other organisations in their sector with climate change, and the development of a sound, policy-based understanding of the links between climate change and refugee and human rights issues. Full details of all projects can be found in the initiative’s final report, An unexamined truth.7

Whilst successful, the time and resources involved in supporting the organisations involved to make the links raises questions about how scalable such an approach is. This highlights the importance of organisations like umbrella bodies identifying the links between climate change and other issues and engaging organisations with their findings. The tailored nature of support was very valuable in the Baring initiative, which points to the role of issuespecific umbrella bodies, as they are best placed to develop material tailored to the core work of the organisations they support.

Government making links A number of organisations mentioned the importance of government demonstrating a recognition that climate change is a cross-cutting issue. Diverse organisations are more likely to recognise the relevance of climate change when they see the departments they work with acknowledging it. This also plays out at the local level, with many organisations feeling that action on climate change should be a more cross-cutting aspect of local

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authority engagement with civil society, rather than just being categorised as ‘environment’, which is often the case. A recognition of climate change as cross-cutting would also lead government to engage with a wider variety of stakeholders about it and help to build conviction among civil society organisations that the issue is of shared importance.

“The department for education has a key role in terms of children’s policy and I’ve often advocated that we need to link it up with sustainable living agenda and climate change. But there’s also a need to help policy makers understand the issues and their links.”– NCB

Related to this was the point that the lack of visible responses to climate change makes it harder for organisations to demonstrate the relevance of tackling it to people’s daily lives. Pushing government to make its efforts to tackle climate change more visible to members of the public is a key message of Green Alliance’s work on inspiring public engagement with the transition to a low carbon society.8 It is also relevant to civil society organisations being able to demonstrate the relevance of climate change to stakeholders.

“A real barrier is a lack of visible, concrete responses to climate change. Our world doesn’t look like one that has responded to the challenges of climate change. Seeing is believing, so if people see all the benefits that go with tackling climate change they will be more motivated.” – Co-operatives UK “If your local community centre is having a massive retrofit to make itself more energy efficient that has a big impact on people.” – CDF

5.4 Getting the language right “It’s important for us to talk about these issues in our own distinct voice, and to echo the concerns of our supporters and members.” – National Trust

The strength of having diverse civil society groups active on climate change is their ability to engage the people and organisations they work with using language that resonates with them. Talking about ‘climate change’ is not the right approach to engaging or influencing many organisations and stakeholder groups. We highlight below the different sets of language identified through this study and its interviews. Their variety alone makes the case for getting the language right being a key success factor in engaging more groups with climate change. And it is equally important when it comes to advocacy. Efforts to influence decision makers are more likely to be successful when couched in the language and linked to the existing issues that they already work on with stakeholders.


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Emerging language in different areas of civil society Children and young people’s sector

“Part of our staged approach to these issues was looking at the language and how people were framing it. NCB has taken the decision that it’s going to talk about sustainable living not climate change, whilst recognising the various entry points without losing the sense of urgency that climate change brings to the agenda.” – NCB “It’s important to be clear what we mean when talking about climate change and why we’re working on it. Communicating that again and again with very simple language has been a really important part of that work. Rather than making general assertions, we’re specific about how we’re contributing and what our message is.” – UNICEF Older people’s sector

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Co-operatives and social enterprises “There’s a lot of people who already have powerful reasons to take action on climate change but they may not recognise the language. But when you present climate change as being about fuel poverty, community cohesion, the state of the countryside etc. it makes sense.” – SEC Faith groups

Disability groups



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Health groups


Human rights and refugee groups

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Poverty and environmental justice

International development sector

“When we communicated directly on climate change it actually confused some of our supporters. We identified a real need to communicate in a more integrated manner, so whenever we talk about food or child development or water stress or health problems or even conflict, we integrate climate change messages within it to try and demonstrate that these are development issues that therefore people would want to support.� – Tearfund



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Transport sector

“When I started talking about walking and cycling and relevance to climate change at transport conferences eight years ago, very few people could see the links. Then I started talking about peak oil. No one had even heard of it. It’s been very interesting watching the world change and all of these things become common parts of language.” – sustrans Trade unions sector

“Looking at the TUC example – they have tried to show what climate change and a transition to a low carbon economy will mean for their core issues of jobs, training, skills etc. This is what will engage and motivate their members, whereas if you mention rain, drought, sea levels people ask – what can I do?” – Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society in the UK & Ireland (staff insight)

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“The language about a transition to a low carbon future engages people because it’s a challenge. It becomes about shared endeavour, which resonates in civil society because it’s about collaboration, positive social change and equitable access to and responsibility for resources.” – CDF 5.5 Smarter funding that incentivises and supports change Many organisations cited funding pressures as a key reason for not being able to find the time to take a more strategic look at the links between climate change and their core work. A number of funders are aware of their enabling role in helping organisations find the time and resources to consider climate change in relation to their work. They also recognise the potential of umbrella bodies to cascade activity and learning, relieving the stress of organisations feeling they need to go through this process separately. In recognition of this potential, a group of funders are currently in discussion about funding a climate unit based in NCVO. It could provide organisations with the kind of focused support that the Baring special initiative involved and start building a critical mass of experience of how climate change relates to core work in different areas of civil society.

“I’m pessimistic about the likelihood of organisations doing this on a really large scale without the resources to do so. If we, as funders, want this change to occur, we need to be prepared to put the money into it. Grantees might not agree that they should divert resources to climate change so you need to start exploring ways of meeting their goals and the need to act on climate change at the same time. It is possible to do this but, practically, there just needs to be more resources going into helping it to happen.” – the Baring Foundation

Requiring progress The potential for funders to drive progress on climate change by requiring action of grantees came up repeatedly but viewpoints differ. The City Bridge Trust asks grantees what they are doing to reduce their carbon footprint and monitors action. To support grantees they have been offering eco-audits since 2008. They see them as a good way of encouraging progress and are currently evaluating the degree to which the behaviours suggested have been sustained. The opposite view is concern that requiring grantees to demonstrate environmental progress adds a barrier to accessing funding and could see organisations divert resources from core work to meet criteria that end up being nothing more than a tick box exercise.


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“Information on how you’re tackling climate change should be a standard request in funding applications. But it can lead to a kind of fake change where everyone just downloads a standard policy, which doesn’t create real buy-in or change.” – ACEVO

“Funders could lead as they can hold a lot of sway over organisations and can provide forums for sharing knowledge and encouraging behaviour change.” – The Young Foundation

If demonstrating action on climate change does increasingly become a condition of funding it is essential that funders frame this as widely as possible. Any support they provide should encourage organisations to explore the intrinsic links between climate change and core issues, as well as focus on reducing their environmental impact. Various organisations noted their aspiration that funding applications could provide scope for requesting additional support to help them engage with climate change, rather than such efforts being seen as a separate initiative to fundraise for.

Smarter funding Organisations noted that funding can be very siloed, with grant givers wanting to put organisations into an ‘environment’ stream or a ‘social’ stream, rather than recognising the ways that cross-cutting work meets their priorities. This leaves work that is tackling climate change as one of a set of integrated objectives vulnerable to a lack of funding. For example, one development organisation shared their experience of applying to an environmental funding stream. They found it difficult to access a grant as they weren’t known to the funders, who seemed more comfortable dealing with the environmental groups they are used to. Another issue highlighted was the type of activity that gets funded. Organisations mentioned that activity to raise awareness with leaflets or handing out light bulbs etc. can seem to get funding more easily than work taking a more substantive look at the links between climate change and different issues. Others noted the frustrations of being able to get money for capital improvements, but not the time needed to develop the projects. As discussed above, this is also an important point in relation to the availability of funding to support capacity building in umbrella bodies and individual organisations on climate change. There is a need for funders to respond to these issues and, encouragingly, activity is underway to promote a more holistic approach among funding organisations. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Carnegie UK, the Baring Foundation and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation have all supported work taking a joined-up approach to climate change and its links with other issues. And Clare Thomas, chief grants officer at the City Bridge Trust and chair of the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF), has been doing a lot of work to raise awareness in the funding community of ways that they can support progress on climate change across civil society. This has led to productive discussions and greater engagement with climate change in key networks like the Intelligent Funding Forum, the Woburn Place Collaborative, London Funders and the Environmental Funders Forum.

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“Funders need a staged approach in relation to sustainability where they require organisations to do something quite achievable in order to secure funding and then incrementally help them move on. Otherwise organisations, particularly smaller ones, will end up suffering while bigger organisations will be able to respond.” – NCB “It might be nirvana but we should be persuading grant givers to give a proportion in addition to their grants to make sure that people are doing the right thing. So if they give an organisation £10,000 they should look at where they are in terms of their understanding and action on climate change and work to help them identify what more they could do, with 10 per cent extra upfront to spend on that and incentivise action.” – NCVO “When you are dealing with community action, with people doing things that help tackle climate change as well as benefiting social and economic objectives, bidding to a fund that is only interested in environmental outcomes is fraught with difficulty. Smarter funding would mean that investment in greening social action would not get siloed in the environmental field.” – ACRE 5.6 New partnerships “We’ve secured funding for projects that have resulted in increased partnerships with other children’s organisations but also with environmental organisations. So we’re getting cross fertilisation and have been able to draw on environmental organisations for their expertise and knowledge.” – NCB

New partnerships refer to organisations from different parts of civil society working together on climate change, such as environmental and poverty organisations working together to explore shared objectives. Such partnerships enable organisations to draw on expertise they would not otherwise have access to and can make identifying the links between issues and future actions much easier. New partnerships can also be a very powerful means of influence, as decision makers can see that concerns are shared among diverse and perhaps unexpected groups of stakeholders. Using partnerships to pool expertise and access decision makers can also build the confidence of organisations that feel they lack the necessary expertise to influence decision makers on their own. It was striking that our study revealed so few activities involving new partnerships given the huge value placed on them by organisations that have worked together. For example, NCB has since identified their work with environmental organisations in the Climate Smart project as being key to their organisation accelerating their understanding of climate change’s impacts and the action they can take. Organisations may feel that they need a certain level of understanding about their intended direction before working with others. But partnerships can have varying levels of formality and exploring ways for different areas of civil society to work together on climate change is a key area we hope to see develop in future. This is as much a challenge for environmental groups as it is for wider civil society organisations. We cannot wait for organisations to


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come to us but need to be reaching out ourselves to engage new and diverse organisations in our efforts to achieve change.

5.7 Research and evidence base High quality pieces of research that explore the links between climate change and other issues are critical to making a compelling case for action to a wide range of stakeholders. They can significantly accelerate engagement by providing organisations with access to a well articulated, tailored set of arguments about why climate change matters to the issues and people they care about. Influential pieces of research can relieve the pressure for all organisations to develop their own in-house expertise and bolster their confidence in making the case for action to decision “There’s very little information and makers. A lot of key research to date has involved productive new support for the whole of the civil partnerships between environmental and non-environmental civil society on how climate change is linked society organisations and, finally, research can be a useful means to whatever we’re working on. Climate of identifying language that will work for different groups.

change has such strong potential to undermine the organisational goals of so many sectors and issues. It would be great if somebody could be helping us all work out how it impacts, undermines and potentially reverses our own objectives.” – Tearfund

“There is an opportunity to consider a more positive future in which social justice and climate change are considered together. We will be working to develop an evidence base for such approaches and looking at how they can be achieved in practice.” – Joseph Rowntree Foundation

This study did not reveal many research related activities but this is understandable, due to the resource commitments and expertise they require. Quality is what matters, not quantity, and a number of important pieces of work have been carried out over the past couple of years. They include the Baring special initiative on climate change, the roundtable on climate change and poverty in the UK,9 and Carnegie UK funded research by the New Economics Foundation on the links between social justice and climate change. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is also funding research looking at the links between climate change, poverty and social justice (see case study on p.26) and work is underway to explore what a sustainable social care system will look like, which civil society organisations will play a key role in delivering.10 The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation has been funding this work by Green Alliance, as well as future work on engaging with climate change at the local level. They are also supporting NCVO in developing thinking about the impacts of climate change in recent immigrant communities and the application of the ‘Sustainable Organisation’ thesis to UK charities.

5.8 Tackling footprint In the scope of the progress needed, we see civil society’s influencing roles and potential to support behaviour change as more important than their efforts to tackle the footprint of their organisations. But this is not to dismiss such activities. They can be a tangible and important reference point that make an organisation’s strategic efforts to tackle climate change more real to staff, members and beneficiaries. Many organisations also see such activities as important when raising awareness or influencing on climate change. And where organisations have done significant retrofit or built sustainable new

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premises they play an important role in engaging people who use the building in making the links between their activities there and climate change. What we caution against is assuming that efforts to tackle footprint will automatically lead to more substantive engagement. We have noted throughout the need for those providing support and advice on climate change to encourage engagement that goes beyond tackling footprint, as it is only part of engaging with climate change in a way that leads to it being mainstreamed across civil society.

5.9 Information and advice The nature of the information and advice available to organisations actively looking for support in engaging with climate change is an important factor in the responses they develop. Many see umbrella bodies as best placed to provide support and advice. The language used to engage groups is important so there is huge value in organisations being able to access information from their existing membership bodies in terms relevant to them, rather than having to turn to environmental organisations whose information may seem less relevant and with whom they do not have an existing relationship. The ability of umbrella bodies to enable the sharing of experiences between groups grappling with similar challenges is also very important. Often being able to get in touch with organisations trying out similar approaches is as important, if not more so, than being able to access a single information source.

“It should come from the people they normally go to for help. That could be NCVO, ACEVO, the Charity Finance Directors Group – whoever their leadership groups and networks are.” – GAP

It is important that advice and information prompts organisations to consider links between their work and climate change and is not simply framed in terms of reducing their impact. It will be of most value when umbrella bodies start integrating a focus on climate change across their existing support and advice, so that it is not seen as an add-on but a natural part of things like procurement advice, or long-term planning support. Some organisations raised the point that many umbrella bodies are still familiarising themselves with climate change. This highlights the important role that partnerships with environmental organisations can play in helping umbrella bodies develop their initial provision of advice and support. But it also points to the need for information and advice to continually evolve as the audience’s level of understanding grows. Information and advice needs to help organisations be more effective, so it will be an ongoing challenge to provide material that is commensurate with growing engagement and ambitions for action, as well as supporting those new to the issues.

“There’s the Carbon Trust, the Energy Savings Trust, UK Climate Impacts Programme etc. But there isn’t an equivalent set of organisations providing that host of services to the third sector.” – CDF


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“There isn’t a lack of information. It just needs packaging in a form that is tailored to the context in which organisations work, with the links made between issues.” – ACRE

Most organisations felt that tailored support and advice would work best coming from an existing organisation, rather than a new body being set up. In response to these kinds of views, and based on their own experience in relevant projects during 2009, NCVO is developing the kind of one stop shop for climate change issues in civil society that participants in this study felt would be useful. Using their experience of stimulating and embedding change in organisations, their climate unit will aim to work with others to package up climate change issues and show how the threats and opportunities are meaningful to charities, voluntary organisations, community groups and social enterprises in different sub-sectors, such as disability charities or charities for older people. Just Act ( is also a useful source of support. It is an evolution of the third sector declaration on climate change and provides resources to help organisations develop action plans that help reduce their impact on climate change. The current focus is on tackling the footprint of activities but it directs organisations to resources that take a broader look at climate change and its links with other issues. The question of where organisations can access support and advice on climate change at the local level is an important one and is discussed further in the local mapping supplement to this report.

“It would be really useful to have some centralised information. The climate change evidence base is changing all the time and there are so many delivery channels – the web, different newsletters, newspapers reporting in different ways etc. For a charity not intrinsically involved it’s difficult to know the reality.” – NCT “Some kind of supporting body or information source for third sector organisations should be embedded within one of the existing umbrella bodies rather than setting up another.” – children and young people’s organisation

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6. looking ahead Organisations are at different points in getting the success factors above in place. Some have made more progress than others and are valuable examples for those just starting to engage with the issue. Many of the success factors are mutually reinforcing and the ease with which organisations can develop them depends heavily on the influence of leadership, examples and shared experience among their peers. As more organisations get the different elements in place, what will success look like?

“Third sector leadership means having an environmental, economic and social impact ourselves. It’s not just greening our supply chain, it’s taking a leadership role in developing a green economy, getting involved in changing the marketplace and reshaping it.” – SEC

“I’d like most people to see these issues as not only about polar bears but as part and parcel of what we do.” – NCVO

In short, we will see climate change embedded in civil society efforts to build the Big Society – one that is resilient, empowered, able to respond to challenges and to demand more ambitious action from decision makers across a range of linked objectives. Climate change will be recognised as a material concern by a diverse range of organisations. It will not be a separate issue being tackled by environmental groups alone, but one that civil society groups look to address in their efforts to meet the needs of their beneficiaries and deliver against their core mission. Efforts to build a bigger and better society will, by default, also be efforts to build a more sustainable one, with action on climate change seen as a vital part of future proofing civil society’s ability to meet its goals.

Tackling climate change will be understood as requiring more than awareness raising and efforts to reduce organisational footprint. More and more organisations will be adding their voice to calls for action and leveraging their opportunities for influence in order to secure more ambitious progress. They will demand more from the decision makers they engage with at the local, regional or national level, and integrate calls for action on climate change into their discussions with key stakeholders. They will also be strengthening coalitions and campaigns by adding new perspectives and compelling arguments for change on behalf of a growing range of constituencies. A wide range of organisations will be supporting pro-environmental behaviour change among the individuals and communities they work with. And not just as a mouthpiece for government messages but through approaches that are led by and integrated into their existing conversations with communities. These will be tailored to and clearly linked to the issues their stakeholders already care about and able to demonstrate positive benefits in regard to them. For example, supporting older people in reducing their energy bills whilst remaining comfortable, which links to energy efficiency and tackling climate change. Finally, organisations will be embedding action on climate change across their work. Even where organisations have recognised climate change as an important issue it may lead to the development of a strand of work, with staff still unsure how and why it should be integrated across the whole organisation’s activities. Embedding action involves an organisation looking across its work programmes and thinking about how an awareness of climate


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“I’d like get to a place where in pulpits, in synagogues, in temples around the world the environment is something that people talk about, that they believe is integral to their faith and that they believe they are empowered to take action on.” – ARC

“It would be good to move from this being a difficult issue for organisations to talk about, both to their supporters and to their decision making audiences, towards talking more about the opportunities and what our future will be like in a low-carbon, sustainable world.” – membership organisation

“I would like to see organisations from right across the voluntary sector making well informed and passionate calls for bolder and more urgent action on climate change, and that within ten years those calls would have contributed to achieving significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.” – The Baring Foundation

change’s impacts can inform project delivery, the development of new ideas, communications with stakeholders and advocacy strategies on a range of issues. Case studies of non-environmental organisations that are starting to do this will provide leadership and useful examples for their peers.

Challenges ahead Achieving this vision, particularly with the pressures of the recession and funding cuts, is ambitious but essential. The impacts of climate change will become more evident in coming years and it is vital that civil society groups of all kinds are aware, engaged and able to take action. The success factors identified in this report and different ways of ensuring they get put in place are essential in building that preparedness. But even with a sound understanding of what it will take our study highlights two key challenges ahead.

Hesitancy in influencing policy and/or campaigning At the start of this report we posited civil society’s potential to influence decision making and to demonstrate the weight and breadth behind their calls for action on climate change as its most important role. Influence and advocacy is at its most powerful when coming from surprising new voices and perspectives, which makes the prospect of diverse organisations calling for action so powerful. As more organisations recognise the intrinsic links between their core issues and climate change, influencing policy will be a natural response for many. But this will not be the case for everyone. Seeking to influence policy or campaigning can feel uncomfortable for many organisations, even though they agree with the need for action. Or they may choose to focus on other activities.

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“So much of the sector has a service delivery relationship with government that they don’t take an intellectual, policy lead on issues. That’s got to change in the next 10 years.” – GAP


This was a key finding of the Baring Foundation’s special initiative on climate change, which supported non-environmental organisations in exploring the links between climate change and their core work. It had initially been assumed that a better understanding of the links would lead to the development of policy asks and advocacy, but there was much less of this than expected. Instead, a number of organisations used their experience to examine how their work would need to adapt in future.11 Whilst important, this raises questions about how far we can assume that organisations will add their voice to decision making once they gain a better understanding of the impacts of climate change on their work. Any hesitancy organisations face in taking on this role will need to be addressed. Umbrella bodies have an important role in this, as they can build the capacity of member organisations and influence on their behalf. Organisations can also contribute their voice to debates through joint influencing strategies or campaigns. Coalitions like Stop Climate Chaos and Putting People First are successful examples of this, but many of them are time bound and aim to achieve specific actions. As more diverse organisations come together around shared objectives there needs to be an evolution in how groups can work together effectively and build enduring partnerships. The longer-term goal is for climate change to be part of the policy work that different parts of civil society already do. But in the interim there is a clear role for organisations working on environmental policy to be proactive in identifying civil society groups with perspectives to add. This may require initial work to support groups in clarifying the links between their core work and climate change, but is an investment worth making if it enables new and compelling voices to contribute to policy debates.

“Initially we thought that organisations would use their new knowledge to get involved in lobbying government, either through wider campaigns or their existing channels. But interestingly a lot of organisations took what they learned and thought about how their services need to adapt. For example, RNIB have started to think about the impacts of flooding on their beneficiaries and how they can ensure they aren’t more vulnerable in areas that will be increasingly prone to flooding.” – The Baring Foundation

“It’s quite difficult because we don’t have the expertise. I think we would be interested in supporting a wider initiative that we could become part of.” – NCT


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Supporting change The fact that change will not happen automatically has been another key finding of this study. The findings initially seemed to suggest that action on climate change will be mainstreamed across civil society gradually but inevitably. But closer inspection revealed a significant gap between activities like reducing organisational footprint and those with a more strategic understanding of climate change and its links to wider issues. Progression through these activities cannot be assumed and organisations will not automatically engage more substantively with climate change. This will take a range of support and it is essential that this is properly acknowledged. We highlight throughout the report the ways that support is needed. For example, through funding that is better able to support work on climate change as part of a set of integrated objectives and capacity building in umbrella bodies to maximise the supportive role they can play in mainstreaming climate change across civil society. The degree to which support of that kind is delivering the necessary results needs monitoring as it develops over the coming year. This is also an important issue when it comes to building the Big Society. A very positive vision has been articulated, but ensuring that we achieve a bigger and more sustainable society depends on an enthusiastic response from civil society. We cannot assume that organisations are equipped to respond in ways that build sustainability into the Big Society. Supporting a wide range of organisations in engaging with climate change is critical to ensuring that they do not miss opportunities to do so. Green Alliance will be exploring this challenge in more detail in the coming months. We believe that action on climate change that delivers benefits across a range of objectives exemplifies the Big Society in action and will be working to ensure that organisations of all kinds are able to be part of this.

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getting to the bedrock of climate change action local mapping supplement



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local maps – getting to the bedrock of climate change action Offered the enticing prospect of greater empowerment and the opportunity to tackle their area’s challenges on their own terms, communities find themselves in the spotlight of the government’s Big Society ambitions. This makes it even more pressing than before that local level civil society groups are able to engage with climate change and understand how it relates to their core issues of concern. Without this understanding there is a risk of communities missing opportunities to pursue approaches that can help to secure their goals whilst also helping to tackle climate change and build their resilience in the long term. The Big Society must also be a sustainable and resilient one. This makes our study of local action on climate change very pertinent. Rather than replicating the national level work, we took a participatory approach to mapping action on climate change in two areas. Local groups were able to indicate their activity as markers on online maps of their area, creating two snapshots of activity in inner-city Newcastle and in North Dorset. It offered insight into the extent of overlap between different issues and how local groups see climate change in relation to their work. The snapshots are positive ones. But they do suggest there is some way to go in building an understanding of the relevance of climate change to different issues and linking up efforts to tackle it with other local activities. This section goes on to examine the two local maps and their differences. It also looks ahead at how we can build climate literacy at the local level, which the maps indicate is still a challenge.

viewing the online maps The maps of local activity underway in Dorset and Newcastle are best viewed online. All entries have been written by organisations themselves and different categories of activities can be seen as layers on the map. It is hard to give a sense of them in text so we strongly recommend that you take a look for yourselves. The maps can be seen at:

Dorset – MiniSite.php?minisitename=North Dorset Climate Change Action

Newcastle – MiniSite.php?minisitename=Newcastle Climate Change Action

1. The local maps – location, aims and methods The local maps aimed to look as far down as possible at the climate change activities of smaller groups and projects. We could not do this for the whole country, so we focused on one rural and one urban area. It was important to have an enthusiastic partner with strong links to local groups in each area and working with umbrella bodies (ACRE and NAVCA) helped us identify these.

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This led to the studies focusing on Newcastle in partnership with Newcastle CVS and North Dorset in partnership with the Dorset Climate Alliance. The local studies each aimed to cover an area of around 40,000 people. In Newcastle this was an inner-city area covering four wards along the north side of the river Tyne and in Dorset it was the area covered by North Dorset district council. The mapping exercise, run by the social enterprise Mapping for Change, involved workshops attended by local groups where categories for activities were agreed and the maps started to be populated. This was followed by local outreach about the maps, encouraging more local organisations to add their activities to them. Management of the maps was then handed over to the local partners so that they could be an ongoing resource for the communities. The two online maps of Newcastle and Dorset are populated with a range of icons indicating the different activities underway, with more detail available when they are clicked on. As an online resource, the description here can only go so far, especially as we have only been able to provide fairly low resolution images of them for this report. The best way to get a sense of the maps is to visit them online – see links in the box above. Categories of activity were agreed so that different types of activity are easy to identify. Mapping for Change suggested an initial four categories and workshop attendees were able to identify additional ones. Four of the additions were common to both Dorset and Newcastle. Newcastle also added a further four and Dorset a further one. All are set out below. Each type of activity can be seen as a separate layer when looking at the maps online, enabling people to explore the type of projects they are particularly interested in.

Categories and icons on the maps:

original four categories

additional categories common to both areas

additional categories in Newcastle1

buildings and renewable energy climate and environmental groups community and voluntary organisations events food and farming health and wellbeing transport waste and recycling community views education and training group support area regeneration

additional category in Dorset

public services


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As a participatory exercise, organisations added their own text to their markers on the online maps of their area and could choose what category to put themselves in and what information to provide. As we discuss below, it was not always clear how an organisation’s activity was related to climate change from what they wrote on the map, particularly in Newcastle. In response, we did some further work there to examine people’s motivations for putting their organisations on the map. From a pure research point of view it was frustrating to know that some local groups may be working on climate change but, for whatever reason, did not enter their activities on the map. However, the participatory nature of the process required an acceptance of this, with great value being derived from organisations coming together to collectively examine local activity, making links between their work and sparking new ideas for projects and partnerships.

2. Local action in Dorset Working with the Dorset Climate Alliance (DCA) and Dorset Agenda 21 (DA21) helped to build understanding of local interests and led to an evening workshop in Shaftesbury attended by 28 people. These included local activists, community organisations and representatives from North Dorset district council and Dorset county council, who were interested in how the map might develop across the county. The workshop identified 30 activities to put on the map and it was then made available locally so that other groups could add to it. A second workshop has since trained people in the use of the map so that it can be an ongoing resource for the community and the council.

The data gathered: Seventy nine organisations and projects are currently mapped in Dorset.2 They include: c ommunity and voluntary organisations – 21 food and farming – 17 climate and environmental groups – 17 buildings and renewable energy projects – 17

public services – 3 transport – 2 health and wellbeing – 2 events – 0 waste and recycling – 0

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fig.1 a screen grab of the online Dorset map with icons

The distribution of activities indicates a high level of local climate-related action. If this was at the same level across the UK it would suggest that around 18,000 climate/environmental groups were active, a figure some 50 per cent higher than previous estimates. Similarly, extrapolating to assume that there are 16,000 plus local energy projects seems likely to be a high figure. Dorset’s reputation as an area with lots of green activity, with national bodies such as Common Ground and the Corner House research agency locally based, goes some way towards explaining the high levels of environmental activity. In contrast, the figure for community and voluntary group activity was initially quite low and did not reflect levels of community activity in Dorset as a whole or at the national level. The presentation of the map as a climate action map, supported and publicised by an environmental organisation, was likely to be a key factor in this. This raised questions about the degree to which environmental and community networks are joined up at the local level, working together and identifying links between their activities. But it has been interesting to note that since the maps have gained more profile among local groups the number of community groups on it has increased significantly. There are some clear gaps where the map does not include activities, highlighting a limitation of the participatory approach. For example, the local Women’s Institute branch or local churches and other faith groups, who are very likely to be active on climate change in some way. There is also little evidence of the engagement of health-focused groups, with the only health projects marked being a holistic ‘wellness spa’ and an exercise trail.


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3. Local action in Newcastle The inner-city Newcastle map provides a strong contrast with rural North Dorset. The area is high profile in terms of city redevelopment and has various regeneration programmes underway as it suffers from severe exclusion. The mapping of climate change activity was timely as Newcastle has been nominated the leading UK sustainable city by Forum for the Future. The project’s first workshop was attended by 23 people and a second workshop was attended by 18 people to develop the work further. The study also included meeting a former chair of the Newcastle environment network who has extensive experience of work in the city but said that the network was fairly inactive. The boundaries for local activity are often fluid, with some of the projects on the map based outside the study area. But workshop attendees stressed that they are active in the area.

The data gathered: Seventy organisations and projects are mapped for this area.3 They include: c ommunity and voluntary organisations – 23 climate and environmental groups – 11 waste and recycling – 8 education and training – 7 group support – 7 food and farming – 6

 uildings and renewable b energy – 4 transport – 2 health and wellbeing – 2 events – 0 community views – 0 area regeneration – 0

fig.2 a screen grab of the online Newcastle map with icons

The community sector is well represented on Newcastle’s map, especially when compared to Dorset. Having the local CVS as a partner probably helped with this. But reading the entries that organisations made on the map raised questions about the degree to which their work related to climate change.

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As a participatory process organisations had the right to enter information on the map if they felt it was relevant, but we decided to examine their motives in more detail in order to understand what links they saw between their work and climate change.4

Newcastle in-depth Examining the reasons that organisations put themselves on the map revealed five main types of organisation: ■

groups active on climate change but whose map entry did not include detail of the work groups with some project work linked to climate change or the environment groups who support other organisations, some of whom are active on the environment groups who see climate change or the environment as part of their work on local quality of life groups where the relevance remains unclear

The first two sets of organisations provide positive evidence of work underway on climate change, much of it by organisations working on other core issues that have identified the relevance of climate change. The groups that put themselves on the map because they support organisations that work on the environment and those that see climate change as part of their work on local quality of life raise more interesting questions along the lines of those explored in the main report.

case study – The Cyrenians The Cyrenians is a homeless charity based in Newcastle that works to “support people in need by helping them make sustainable, positive change in their lives.” Their vision is to integrate socially excluded people back into society and improve their lives. They have a range of environmental projects underway that were not recorded on the map and want to push the boundaries of what charities are doing. Relevant work includes:

F areSharefood distribution franchise which redistributes food that would otherwise end up in landfill benefitting community and charitable organisations across the area they work in horticulture projects that engage people in growing rare and heritage vegetables – food is sold on to local restaurants, people gain skills and the wider community is invited to take part in training sessions to help break down stereotypes surrounding homelessness an environmental action group working on their carbon footprint – they already have a combined heat and power unit installed at one of their residential properties and are looking into using solar panels and wind turbines to further reduce their environmental impact


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Organisations that work to support other groups, effectively acting as local umbrella bodies, noted that groups they work with could be active on the environment but that they did not see providing information on it or engaging other groups with it as part of their support remit. Others agreed with this but welcomed the mapping exercise, hoping it would enable them to improve their information service. These experiences reflect many of the points highlighted in the national study in regard to umbrella bodies. In particular, the hesitancy some feel in wanting a mandate from members in contrast to the important need for them to proactively engage their stakeholders with identifying the links between climate change and their core issues. Groups who see the environment as part of working on local quality of life are, in some ways, the most aware of the links between climate change and other issues. The Elders Council of Newcastle works to ensure that decision makers take the views of over 50s into account. They have a quality of life partnership office and work on a range of issues that have links to climate change, such as local transport, securing better homes and neighbourhoods, with mention of warm homes and fuel poverty, and a friendly city group looking at access issues. Seeing action on climate change as part of securing a better quality of life overall is an ideal approach for community groups to be taking to the issue, as it develops a response through the prism of existing concerns and objectives. But there is also a danger that positive outcomes could be assumed without organisations ever meaningfully examining the links between climate change and other issues.

4. Differences The balance of environmental organisations and community organisations varied between the two maps, as discussed above. A few other differences are also in evidence.

Locality and scale In Dorset the activity is mostly in distinct groups representing the major towns while in Newcastle it is more evenly spaced. In rural areas it seems logical to form groups in small towns where there is a local identity and enough interest to support them. In some cases there are also local bodies such as town or parish councils to influence and it cuts down on the need to travel. This geography is more likely to lead to the formation of multiple small groups rather than larger ones. In Newcastle there are good public transport links throughout the city so individuals can get involved in existing groups relatively nearby rather than forming new ones. This is also likely to be affected by people’s feeling of identity with Newcastle as a city and willingness to be part of activity in different parts of the city, rather than just in their neighbourhood.

Support available for local action The Dorset Agenda 21 network has been well established for many years and can provide advice and support to new groups. It sees a multiplicity of local groups as a measure of success. In Newcastle, the environment network has not been functioning actively for some time and comments from groups on the

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map reflect a lack of local support for new activity around sustainability and climate change. Other networks do not seem to be reaching out and helping groups make the links between their activities and climate change either. Newcastle is one of nine World Health Organisation healthy cities but the map only yielded two groups under the health icon. Newcastle also has a local food growing directory but there are not many food growing community groups on their map. These support networks have the potential to take on a more proactive role in reaching out to local groups and communicating the links between their core work and climate change.

Socio-economic factors Dorset does have some rural poverty but overall the towns in the study are prosperous. In many ways they are typical of towns where there is a well-developed green community. Unsurprisingly it is a different picture in inner-city Newcastle. The lack of environmental action in areas of high poverty has been documented and discussed in a range of reports since at least 1997. We did not gather enough data to clearly assess how far the two maps reinforce the idea that there are significant differences between richer and poorer areas in terms of environmental action. But the idea that people on lower incomes do not care about the environment often proves to be simplistic. When work is properly supported and its relation to people’s local concerns is clearly communicated there is ample evidence of activity.

5. Looking ahead to climate literate communities The local maps provide insight into a positive amount of activity underway on climate change and reflect communities going through a time of change. The dissemination of a new and urgent agenda has started to make inroads but much of the action that goes beyond awareness raising is still confined to greener organisations. Addressing this is key to ensuring that communities recognise climate change as an issue relevant to their concerns on which they have the power and incentives to act. Without this understanding many communities will continue to see climate change as a separate issue. In a context of greater local delivery of services and communities pursuing their own ambitions, this could mean missed opportunities for innovative environmental projects that also help to deliver economic, health and security benefits. It could also mean missed opportunities for integrating action on climate change into wider approaches to building stronger, more resilient and more sustainable communities. This reinforces the case for building climate literacy at the local level. More organisations need support in understanding the very real impacts that climate change will have on their work and beneficiaries in future. This will help to build a groundswell of public support for government policies to tackle climate change, as communities around the UK better understand how climate change impacts on their aspirations and demand a response.


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Various initiatives have sought to address this. The Every Action Counts (EAC) programme was delivered by organisations very familiar with community groups. Many organisations made the changes that it encouraged and it created an audience for more substantive engagement with community groups on climate change. But when the programme and its support ended many new activities ended with it. And it had less success in encouraging organisations to consider the more intrinsic links between their work and climate change. The low carbon communities network and transition towns are notable examples of successful community action on climate change. They are working on their accessibility to a wider range of organisations, as the FCDL case study in the main report highlights (see p.17), but many unengaged groups still see them as purely environmental networks. So there is still a long way to go in communicating climate change’s inherent relevance to the existing concerns of community groups. Few sustained efforts are being made to build climate literacy at the local level and the best way of doing so remains a big question. Green Alliance will be exploring this question in more detail following on from this study. In the interim we note below the importance of linking up community and environment networks and two potential ways of building climate literacy.

Linking up community and environment networks Stronger connections between community and environment networks will help to build climate literacy by enabling groups to collectively identify the links between their issues and to develop productive new partnerships. Community and environment networks increasingly overlap, for example through work on healthy food, better homes, healthier local transport or local resilience. But the maps indicated a lack of cross over. This highlights the need for local and national networks to reach out and expand the range of organisations they engage with. Maps like the ones in this study can be a useful way of enabling connections, as groups can see what is going on nearby and where activities have shared aims. The structures through which civil society groups engage with and influence local authority decisions can also reinforce separation. Local strategic partnerships tend to have different theme groups. These keep groups working on different issues separate rather than providing the opportunity to identify overlaps between their objectives and collective ways of addressing them. The Devon Futures group provides a good example of a more holistic approach. It sits across the local strategic partnership with members drawn from the different theme groups. It looks at social, economic and environmental issues together with the aim of maximising synergy and building a balanced approach to sustainability that takes all issues into account. As civil society and local authority interaction evolves we hope that joined up approaches to tackling local issues become more common.

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The shared energy approach This approach to building climate literacy was developed by one of the Baring Foundation’s special initiative on climate change projects. In 2009 the New Economics Foundation (NEF), the Community Development Foundation (CDF), bassac, Community Sector Coalition (CSC) and Groundwork worked with nine community anchor organisations on climate change. Community anchors refer to independent, community run and led organisations working for community benefit. They often have community managed or owned buildings, promote community led enterprise and dialogue and express local views to decision makers.5 Community anchors are well placed to support local action on climate change with their high levels of trust and reach into communities and to link it to their efforts to improve community well being. But many do not yet identify climate change as a concern or lack the knowledge to see how it might be relevant. In response, the shared energy programme aimed to build up the knowledge base and capacity of community anchors to take action on climate change. Their programme secures action by building awareness, agency (knowing what you can do and how) and association, as change is more likely to happen and be sustained when worked on collectively. It includes: ■

tailored explorations of current action on climate change – this included an environmental audit and action plan but also encouraged groups to think about the wider implications of climate change for their work innovative scenario planning workshops to encourage organisations to think about climate change – participants went on a climate walk from the present until 2100, which demonstrated possible future scenarios. They also developed editions of newspapers from 2027 that reflect four different futures depending on the approach we decide on now meetings between the anchors involved to share lessons and discuss ways of using their new network and their experience in future6

Understanding of climate change increased in all nine of the anchors and five were able to identify clear links with their mission. The high levels of tailored support were valued, but do raise questions about how replicable such a model is. And whilst their own practice changed, not all felt confident in going out to engage others with climate change by the end of the process. This reflects the hesitancy around influencing identified in the national study and highlights aspects of the model to improve, as the outreach and engagement roles are the most valuable ones for anchor organisations to play. The programme is now available in toolkit form.7 Its developers are already being approached by organisations wishing to be trained in running the process so they can use it with groups they support. So there is potential for the programme to help build climate literacy at the local level as more support organisations use it as a way of engaging local groups with climate change.


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Using local voluntary support networks The main report highlights the key role of umbrella bodies in securing wider engagement with climate change and this is also true at the local level. The potential for local bodies like councils for voluntary action (CVAs) and councils for voluntary service (CVSs) to integrate climate change into the support they provide to local civil society groups is an important avenue for building climate literacy. Such organisations reach approximately one third of community groups. They are networked at the regional level and nationally through NAVCA, which has identified the demand for greater capacity building on climate change among their members. Given the hugely distributed nature of community level action, reaching around a third of local organisations would be a substantial achievement. A training programme for CVS and CVA branches could build their understanding of climate change and its links with the issues of concern to the groups they support. They would gain knowledge of other resources available and become better able to link up local groups and direct them to relevant information and advice. They would be able to respond to enquiries themselves and gain confidence in reaching out to groups they work with and communicating the relevance of climate change. No specific training programme for the CVS/CVA network has been developed and it is possible that the shared energy approach discussed above could be tailored to this context. But the possibility to build climate literacy via this route is currently being explored in more depth, with a pilot likely to take place in London. The potential for a co-ordinated approach, with a built-in support network at regional and national level to reinforce training, makes it worth exploring.

6. In conclusion The local mapping exercise was an innovative way of gaining insight into local activity on climate change. We resisted drawing too many conclusions from the two small samples but they do reinforce the fact that building climate literacy at the local level is an urgent challenge. It could remain a largely organic process. But the impacts that climate change will have on local areas and their concerns demands that we consider whether there are strategic interventions that would enable a more rapid upscaling of climate literacy. With the focus on community empowerment created by the government’s Big Society ambitions we cannot miss the chance to firmly integrate action on climate change into efforts to build bigger, better communities around the country. Green Alliance will be working on this over the coming year as a follow on to this piece of work.

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annex 1 – a note on the national study’s methodology This study aimed to understand the types of climate change activity underway across civil society. Inevitably it is not completely comprehensive but, as reflected in the list of organisations that took part (see annex 2), it covered a substantial and representative sample of organisations working on different issues. The study consisted of the following elements, conducted in late 2009: ■

36 in-depth interviews with organisations working on a range of different issues a comprehensive online survey that collected information on attitudes to climate change (personal and organisational) and details of climate change activities under way a number of activities were also recorded by attendees at a workshop run by Green Alliance in summer 2009 a small amount of desk research included activities by organisations which interviewees or survey respondents directed us to overall, 222 organisations took part in the research, for details see annex 2

When considering the distribution of activities discussed in chapter 4 it is important to note that the categories were developed as part of the analysis of material collected, so the research team did the categorisation. Activities are counted under all the categories relevant to their work, rather than only being allocated to one category. In some cases the question of how many categories an activity falls under is useful and is explored in more detail. The total number of activities covered by the analysis came to 242. This work and analysis was supplemented by Green Alliance’s involvement in two other key pieces of relevant work – the joint ministerial and third sector task force on climate change, which Green Alliance co-chaired and provided the secretariat for in 2009, and our participation as a project partner in one of the Baring special initiative on climate change projects, also in 2009.

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annex 2 – organisations involved in the national study Organisations in bold were interviewed. Organisations in grey were only included through desk based research, as interviewees or survey respondents mentioned them as worth including. 10:10 38 Degrees 999 club ACEVO ACRE Act on Energy Action Aid Action for a Global Climate Community Action for Children Advocacy First Age Concern and Help the Aged Age Concern London Age Concern Waltham Forest Alliance of Religions and Conservation Amnesty International Anonymous x15 Arcola Theatre Production Company Avaaz Baring Foundation Barnet Law Service BASSAC BBC BBOWT BME Alliance for the East Midlands Bristol Natural History Consortium British Youth Council BTCV CAFD CAFOD Campaign for Better Transport Campaign for Greener Healthcare CAN Capacity Global Carbon Action Yorkshire Carnegie UK Catherine Max Consulting Centre for Sustainable Energy Change is Coming (ChiC) Changemakers Foundation Charities Commission Charity Finance Directors Group Cheshire Wildlife Trust

Christian Aid Church of England Citizens Advice City Bridge Trust City of London Festival CIVA Climate and Health Council Climate Durham Climate Outreach and Information Network Community Based Transport Community Development Foundation Community Foundation serving Northumberland and Tyne & Wear Community Links Community Network Community Sector Coalition (CSC) Community Transport Association UK Conciliation Resources Contact the Elderly Co-operatives UK Cornwall Waste Action Croydon ARC CTC Cumbria Wildlife Trust CWGC DEA Development Trusts Association Disability Essex Disability Hackney Limited Dorset Agenda 21 Down’s Syndrome Association Eden Project EECDA Elder Peoples Support Project Envision Equinox Every Action Counts eVOLution Eye Music Trust Family Action Familylives Parentline Plus


Federation for Community Development Learning Ford, Pallion and Millfield Community Development Project Foundation66 Friends of Springvale Park Friends of the Earth GARAS, (Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers) Gateshead Voluntary Organisations Council (GVOC) Global Action Plan Global Link Globe Community Project Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust Greater London Volunteering Green Alliance Green Creation Greenpeace Groundwork Groundwork London Gurkha Nepalese Community London Borough of Hounslow Harrogate & Area Council for Voluntary Service Harrow Agenda 21 Environmental Forum Hastings Voluntary Action HAVCO HCVS (Hackney Council for Voluntary Service) Hillingdon CVS Hope Hounslow Toy Library Housing for Women Ideas Foundation Iemas Indian Gymkhana Club, Isleworth Institute for Public Policy Research Involve JAMI Joseph Rowntree Foundation Kew Community Trust KIDS LEAF Learning through Landscapes LGIU Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust Links Advocacy

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London Funders London Wildlife Trust Long Lane Pasture Trust Maggie’s Centres Manor Court Baptist Church Medact Merton Voluntary Service Council Mid Sussex Wood Recycling Project Middlesbrough Voluntary Development Agency Nafsiyat National Childbirth Trust National Children’s Bureau (NCB) National Trust NAVCA NCVO NCVYS NEF Newcastle CVS Newham Carers Network Newham Chinese Association NHS Trust (anonymous) Norton House Ltd Novas Scarman NSPCC Nuneaton Club for Young People Nuneaton North Scouts Nuneaton Rugby Club NUS One North East London Operation Noah Oxfam Pan Intercultural Arts Parentline Plus Peace Direct Queens University RADICLE Refugee Council RSPB RTPI (Royal Town Planning Institute) RTPI Planning Aid East of England Rushey Green Time Bank Sacred Heart Church, Wimbledon School (anonymous) SDF Selby Trust Shelter Social Enterprise Coalition Social Enterprise East of England

SOUNDWORK Spinal Injuries association St Bride Foundation Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming Sustainable Stonehouse Sustrans Sutton Coldfield College Tearfund The Funding Network The Maypole Project The Prostate Cancer Charity The Scout Association The West House & Heath Robinson Museum Trust The Young Foundation Tower Hamlets Summer University Transition Town Lewes TUC Unicef UNISON Urban Forum Vale Royal Environment Network VCS NK Vitalise Voluntary Action Sheffield Voluntary Norfolk Volunteer Reading Help Voscur WCAVA West Norfolk Voluntary & Community Action Wildlife Trust for Beds, Cambs, Northants and Peterborough Wiltshire Wildlife Trust WorldWide Volunteering WWF Yorkshire Wildlife Trust


annex 3 – organisations involved in the local studies organisations listed in Newcastle Bentinck Tenants and Residents Association Carbon Neutral Newcastle Christian Aid North-East Campaigns Group Conference on climate change Devonshire Building, Newcastle University Discovery Museum East End Community Development Alliance Farmers Market Friends of Benwell Nature Park Friends of Leazes Park Friends of Tyne Riverside Country Park Friends of Walker Riverside Park Great North Museum Groundwork International Centre For Life Jesmond Allotment Jesmond Community Orchard Kids Kabin Bike Club Little Wasters Millin Centre Murray House Community Recreation Centre National Energy Action (NEA) Newcastle Community Food Initiative Newcastle Community Green Festival Newcastle Council for Voluntary Service Newcastle Gateshead Friends of the Earth No Power Hour

North East Festival of Architecture Northumberland Wildlife Trust Northumbria Photovoltaics Applications Centre Ouseburn Farm and Eco-centre Ouseburn House Community Centre Ozanam House Probation Hostel Recyke-y-Bike Ltd Refunk Your Junk S.C.R.A.P. (Schools Community Recycling Awareness Project) Science City Newcastle Scotswood Area Strategy Scotswood Natural Community Garden Scotswood Neighbourhood Centre South Mountain Chinese Older Peoples Association St Vincent de Paul Society Sure Start East Childrens Centre The Comfrey project The Cyrenians The Elders Council of Newcastle The Keen Green and Ethical Trade Market The Lemington Centre Thomas Gaughan centre Transition West End Newcastle West End Housing Co-operative


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organisations listed in Dorset Blackmore Vale Creamery Blandford Allotment Society Blandford and District Civic Society Blandford Forum Museum Trust Cannings Court Organic Farm Shop Churches Together in Dorset Cittaslow Sturminster Newton Clean up Blandford Campaign Common Ground Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB Donkey Field Community Orchard Dorset Centre for Rural Skills Dorset Community Renewables Dorset Coppice Group Dorset Cyclists Network DT11 Forum Community Partnership Durweston Allotments Environment Agency Fontmell Magna Micro Hydro Project Foraging - An introduction to Wild Food walks Friends of Donkey Orchard Garrison Kitchen Gardens (on MOD site) Gillingham Action for Nature Group Gillingham Farmers Market Gillingham Pilot Recycling Scheme Goldhill Organic Green Fire Guys Marsh Prison Biomass installation Harlees Fish and Chip Shop Hilfield Peace and Environment Project Iwerne Valley Climate Change Forum LETS North Dorset Long Crichel Garden

Middle Piccadilly Wellness Centre Milldowners Moors Valley Country park Motcombe 18 acre project North Dorset Community Accessible Transport (NORDCAT) North Dorset District Council Allotment Development Site North Dorset District Council Environment and Planning North Dorset Trailway RSPB Blackmoor Vale Local Group School garden Shaftesbury Fairtrade Group Shaftesbury Farmers market Shaftesbury Homegrown Shaftesbury Tree Group Shaftesbury Whole Foods Sherborne Country Market Sherborne Primary School Sherborne School Signpost Housing Association South Wessex Waste Minimisation Group Southwest Biofuels Ltd Stour and Vale Hydro Group Stourpaine Allotments Sturminster Newton Country Market Sturminster Rotary Club SturQuest The Exchange Three Rivers Partnership Threshold Centre, Gillingham Transition Town Shaftesbury Transition Town Sturminster Newton Verwood Country Market Wessex Organic Movement (WORM) Woodland Trust


new times new connections

references main report 1 Jenny Clark, David Kane, Karl Wilding and Jenny Wilton, 2010, UK civil society almanac 2010, NCVO 2 Stephen Hale, 2008, The new politics of climate change – why we are failing and how we shall succeed, Green Alliance 3 Both projects were funded by the Baring Foundation’s special initiative on climate change 4 HM Government and Green Alliance, 2009, Shaping our future – the joint ministerial and third sector task force on climate change, the environment and sustainable development, HM Government 5 One of the Baring Foundation’s special initiative on climate change projects. Green Alliance worked in partnership with GAP and NCVO 6 There were two additional opportunities identified by the task force that are important but less relevant to making links between issues. These are showing leadership and giving voice to public demands for action by others. HM Government and Green Alliance, 2009, Shaping our future – the joint ministerial and third sector task force on climate change, the environment and sustainable development, HM Government 7 Matthew Smerdon, 2010, An unexamined truth, The Baring Foundation 8 Sylvia Rowley and Rebekah Philips ed., 2009, From hot air to happy endings – how to inspire a low carbon society, Green Alliance 9 The Roundtable on climate change and poverty in the UK, 2008, Tackling climate change, reducing poverty, New Economics Foundation, Climate and Health Council, Basac, Medact, Sustain, Royal College of Nursing, Oxfam, Capacity Global, Women’s Environmental Network and Friends of the Earth 10 11 Matthew Smerdon, 2010, An unexamined truth, The Baring Foundation

local mapping supplement 1 The latter theme on ‘area regeneration’ has been added since the second workshop 2 Numbers correct as went to print in September 2010 3 Numbers correct as went to print in September 2010 4 This follow-up exercise was done in June 2010, so only covers those organisations that had put themselves on the map by that time 5 6 Matthew Smerdon, 2010, An unexamined truth, The Baring Foundation 7

Tackling climate change is no longer the preserve of the environmental movement. It requires a response from all of civil society because of its potential to roll back progress on long held goals and because of the opportunities that addressing it offers. Diverse civil society organisations are recognising the impacts that climate change will have on their mission and their ability to meet the needs of beneficiaries. But it is not always an easy process to find time or support for and many organisations continue to see climate change as separate to their immediate concerns. New times, new connections sets out the key roles for civil society in responding to climate change. It explores the landscape of activity underway and the degree to which it reflects a diverse, mobilised civil society using its voice and varied channels of influence to demand action on climate change. In distilling the key success factors for getting to that point, the report should help government decision makers, civil society leaders and organisations themselves identify where support is needed and to target it effectively. In the longer term, we hope that building this capacity will enable sustainability and climate change to be embedded in responses to the Big Society, ensuring that it is a long-lasting, resilient and, fundamentally, greener one. This work has been funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

New Times, New Connections: civil society action on climate change  
New Times, New Connections: civil society action on climate change  

Exploring the landscape of civil society action on climate change Tackling climate change requires a response from across civil society. D...