Turning climate action aspirations into reality: the promise of the Climate Action Fund
Trewin Restorick, founded Hubbub UK to revolutionise the way environmental messages are communicated to a mainstream audience. He believes that to have impactful, lasting environmental change at community level, people need to understand why it’s crucial to act now to find new ways to live fulfilling lives without compromising our environment, and how the right support, funding and guidance can turn climate action aspirations into reality.
Arriving at the launch of The National Lottery Community Fund’s £100 million Climate Action Fund, I was told that whatever I did, I had to see what was happening in a small space upstairs.
The steep stairs didn’t look appealing, but hidden away at the top were two groups of amazing young people who were the founders of a couple of fabulous ‘green’ companies.
Both groups have received support through the National Lottery’s £33m Our Bright Future partnership - led by The Wildlife Trusts - which brings together the youth and environmental sectors to help young people make a positive impact on the environment.
Personally, this was incredibly heartening as I had been involved from the programme’s inception. Twipes and Pocket Pals beautifully demonstrate that given the right support, young people will find novel solutions to long-term environmental challenges.
Commitment to action
Building on this success, The National Lottery Community Fund has announced a significant, new commitment to help communities tackle the climate emergency we face.
This commitment means continued support for environmental projects through existing grant programmes; a new Climate Action Top-up scheme pilot to help supported organisations in Wales ‘green’ their activities and, most significantly, establishes the new Climate Action Fund, which will be distributed over the next 10 years.
This commitment could not be more welcome. The on-going warnings of scientists, that time is running out to avoid the worst extremes of climate change, have hit the public consciousness. From the school strikes started by 16 year old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, to the protests of international social movement, Extinction Rebellion, people are starting to demand action.
With 80% of the public saying they are very or fairly concerned about climate change, in May 2019, MPs approved a motion to declare an environment and climate emergency. Meanwhile, many companies are speeding the transition to a low carbon economy, and new disruptive business models are rapidly appearing.
All of this is essential. But… to get lasting significant change, people and communities need to understand the imperative to act and to find new ways to live fulfilling lives without pumping ever-more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This means doing things differently.
To-date, climate action has often been seen as the preserve of the wealthy or the deeply committed, something that could be put off to a future date. Attitudes are now shifting as the impact of climate change becomes more apparent and understanding grows.
Climate change will hit vulnerable households hard. Increasingly unpredictable weather will lead to higher prices for basic commodities such as food and energy. Hotter cities will lead to more low-level air pollution, greater risk of flash flood or droughts and increased health risks for the elderly and young. So, what can we do?
Communities can unite to find creative ways to address these challenges. Local growing schemes in cities and towns can help fight urban heat, provide local food and offer a sanctuary for people to meet and socialise.
An increased focus on walking and cycling will create a fitter population, reduce emissions and help tackle air pollution. Sharing schemes can tackle rampant consumerism, helping people get more value from products and allowing their money to go further.
Funding and guidance
But while the ways that communities can tackle environmental, social and financial challenges is almost endless, what they need now is the right support, funding and guidance to turn such aspirations into reality.
This is why the new Climate Action Fund is so important.
It will be community-driven with neighbours standing shoulder to shoulder to find effective solutions to fighting climate change that are impactful and scalable. It will create a new movement of people united behind a common aim, and it will bring in new collaborators and partners to speed the transition.
Twipes and Pocket Pals demonstrated what can be achieved when people are given the opportunity to turn their ideas into reality. Thanks to National Lottery players, the Climate Action Fund will make such aspirations possible for many more people and communities across the UK as we battle one of the biggest challenges facing society today.