Boris Johnson pledges to #buildbackgreener in his conference speech with some welcome measures supporting 40 GW of offshore wind and re-instating support for onshore wind and solar. But he forgot “the spirit of community” he praised at the beginning of his speech. His solutions are mostly big-cheque, centralised, corporate and large-scale. The Committee on Climate Change says. ”It will not be possible to get close to meeting a net-zero target without engaging with people or by pursuing an approach that focuses only on supply-side changes...Some of the difficult decisions that will be required will only be possible if people are engaged in a societal effort to reach net-zero emissions and understand the choices and constraints...There is currently no government strategy to engage the public in the transition to a low-carbon economy. This will need to change.”
Community energy is essential to that engagement, and yet has been disabled by policy changes since 2015. This will need to change.
That the consent and participation of people and communities are essential to achieving net zero is endorsed by the Climate Assembly report and increasingly by ministers. At least 62% of the measures needed to achieve net zero are dependent upon behaviour change. Decentralisation and Decarbonisation needs Democratisation.
Community energy harnesses the passion, expertise and capital of the community to develop local climate solutions. The sector has a long track record of tenaciously realising local opportunities and bringing lasting social benefit to communities, far beyond what commercial developments bring. It is trusted, knowledgeable and highly motivated to deliver carbon reduction and community benefit.
The coming Energy White Paper, the government’s promised '10 point plan' to 'Build Back Greener', the Comprehensive Spending Review and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for COP26 must put people and communities (and community energy) at the heart of the societal and systemic changes we need to avoid catastrophic climate change.