Academics and policy-makers have claimed that community has a potentially useful role to play in encouraging pro-environmental behaviour change. Yet despite a growing literature on the role of community in doing so, a critical examination of the policy context in which it is being employed towards that goal is currently lacking. This paper addresses that gap by presenting results from a qualitative case study of the UK government funded Low Carbon Communities Challenge (LCCC). The paper highlights the conflict that exists between the instrumental application of community as a delivery mechanism for government policy on carbon management, and the normative understanding of community based on social relations and identification with place held by community members. Dominant policy approaches to carbon management focus on small scale behaviour change and the delivery of technological fixes aimed at improving carbon efficiency to passive consumer-citizens. Delivered through the LCCC, this approach ignored the normative understanding of community from consideration as a mechanism of change, and offered community members a limited and largely ineffective means by which to encourage pro-environmental behaviour change. The paper concludes with reflections on the implications of these findings on the role of community in the transition to a low(er) carbon society.
Hauxwell-Baldwin, R. (2013) The Politics and Practice of ‘Community’ in UK Government Funded Climate Change Initiatives: The Low Carbon Communities Challenge. 3S Working Paper 2013-19. Norwich: Science, Society and Sustainability Research Group.