Positive vision needed to inspire action, say organisations


Creating a positive and influential vision of a low carbon Leeds is essential to organisational uptake of measures to reduce emissions, a Leeds Climate Commission survey has found.

The survey on communications and engagement aimed to find out what low carbon measures organisations in the city have been taking, or plan to take. The responses show that a lack of time, information, and resources all present barriers – but that having an inspiring vision to rally around would help to catalyse action.

Conducted by Andrew Jones, a BSc Geography undergraduate at the University of Leeds, the survey identifies a range of barriers, including concerns around loss of competitiveness, a lack of assigned responsibility within organisations, problems around the installation of low carbon measures and the challenges of retrofitting rented/old buildings.

The need for a central platform for information and a means of comparing the effectiveness of measures also emerged strongly.

“The survey showed people need more detailed practical information,” said Andrew Jones. “It was also clear that organisations need to share their information and success stories more widely, to encourage others.”

Not having enough time and resources was a widespread problem but the biggest barrier of all was competition with other organisations. “We need to show that reducing your business or organisation’s emissions isn’t a gamble,” said Andrew. “What was interesting was that investing money wasn’t in itself an issue.”

Other measures that were suggested to encourage engagement included: increasing the use of social media to share news and activities; more public events (and livestreaming of them); bringing voluntary organisations together to understand their needs and how they can be involved; sharing and promoting organisations’ success stories, and the production of information materials, from architectural drawings to brochures and animations.

The results will feed into the audit of existing engagement activity conducted at the October 2017 Leeds Climate Forum event and link to a review of best practice in engagement, as well as the Leeds Mini-Stern consultation process.

There were 24 responses to the survey, which was open for six weeks and promoted widely on social media and directly to Leeds Climate Commission member organisations and their networks.

The  Commission’s Engagement and Communications working group is now working on the key learnings from the survey.

Success stories from Leeds businesses and organisations are already being shared on the Leeds Climate Commission website and more stories are always welcome. An animation (from which the header image is taken) of a positive vision of a low carbon Leeds - and how businesses can increase their competitiveness - has been created for Leeds Climate Commission and was premiered at the Commission's launch in September 2017.