Big society, localism and climate change

posted in: Climate Change | 0

The LGiU has just completed a report for Defra on the implications of taking a Big Society approach to tackling climate change. Across four main variables (finance, transparency, decentralisation and philanthropy), the report imagined what it would look like if the state rolled back and people took over. The results were potentially useful when considering mitigation to climate change as well.

For finance, central funding would be slimmed down. In flooding now the government will pay a proportion of the costs of a scheme but will expect contributions from councils or private landowners to make up the rest.

For transparency, the state will stop monitoring impacts on the environment and instead local flooding groups, water companies, landowners or wildlife groups would provide data on infrastructure or impact on habitat.

For decentralisation, the management of information, power to act and even power to decide would be devolved from the council and given to local communities, with appropriate safeguards.

For philanthropy, groups of self funded volunteers supported by donations from the wider community could take responsibility for making a community more secure from the impacts of climate change.

Comparisons with mitigation are evident. Saving energy saves money and is individually driven, local communities are starting to identify sites for renewable energy, parish councils are taking the lead and enlightened self interest is driving people to take advantage of the feed in tariff. However, there is still plenty of big state around appropriately for big national infrastructure but there must be questions marks overt the complexity of some regulations.