The Story Of Climate Change To Climate Action – four stories from Groningen

Within the light of  June 5th, World Environment Day, SelfCity project is joining the campaign in raising awareness on the role of local community action in environmental thinking in dedicated blog posts.

Doing PhD on a hot topic, such as climate change and local environmental issues is not an easy task. There is a lot at stake. Multiple interests, multiple stakeholders, multiple communities with multiple interests. Local and community energy initiatives are becoming increasingly popular. Only in the Netherlands, there are more than 400 registered initiatives and the number is increasing. While some years ago such initiatives were a source of panic and confusion nowadays it seems that there are institutional and structural resources available to support, minion and develop initiatives in multiple sizes and goals. A question remains, what makes such initiatives distinct?

With colleagues from these countries we are trying to understand better why do local energy initiatives happen and what are the different ways of organizing associated with topics of energy transition, climate change, and local community action. The idea is that we want to build an international comparison which will look at how different local initiatives are functioning and what makes initiatives effective.

My preliminary results show that there are many aspects which make local initiatives effective. Here is a brief summary of the four most important aspects. The first critical aspect asserts that initiatives seek an active partnership between policy makers and rely on advances in technology. The second aspect shows that social dimension of sustainable development is crucial, but it is also a responsibility of the government acting the public interest to lead the response to climate change. The third aspect illustrates that energy initiatives are not consciously green and show links between economic worth and environmental protection. The fourth aspect shows that ideological and moral conviction to societal action can be the main driver of local initiatives in the face of climate change.

Here I gave you only four of possible viewpoints. These aspects might seem complimentary and at the same time contradict each other. I must say the aspects I discuss here are only part of the whole story. The possibilities are endless, and one cannot cover the entire field or every possible initiative. Nevertheless, they provide valuable information about in what people and policy makers should invest in their work. Not only this will contribute to understanding what makes local initiatives work better but it will also help us to rewrite the story fo climate change to climate action.

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by Mustafa Hasanov

SELFCITY, not to be mistaken with selfiecity, is a transnational collaborative research project investigating the role of self-organised civic initiatives and Societal Transformation in the Face of Climate Change supported by JPI Climate. The project has particular focus on socio-spatial transformation in urban areas, and more specifically investigating the processes of self-organisation that underpin community-led project-based responses to climate change. What does this mean in simple language?

It means that the project will be not about reinventing the wheel of self-organisation but the project will look behind the curtains of what is framed as “self-organisation” in practise. We want to ask questions such as how can we learn from such self-organised experiences?, who benefits and who loses from self-organisation?, and what does self-organisation mean to policy makers and societal partners at large?