The idea that councils can play a significant role in helping us to prepare for a low-carbon future may seem unlikely, but the fact is that they could be a big part of the solution. Local authorities have a duty of care to think about the future, and they can address the moral aspects as well as the operational and business aspects of their communities. They can help us to reduce the environmental impact of our lives in every way possible.
Communities, Councils & a Low-Carbon Future includes current examples of best eco-practice from local authorities across the UK and elsewhere, and also looks at the challenges in achieving change within government organisations. It is designed to inform and inspire councils and councillors, as well as local environmental activists, community groups and Transition Initiatives. Local government can be a huge driver for positive change, but not by itself. This book will help communities understand what they can reasonably (and unreasonably!) ask from local councils, who to ask, how to ask it, and what levers they can pull.
Foreword by Rob Hopkins
1. A vision of a Transition council
2. Finding your way around local government and influencing a council
3. The view from the inside – the experiences of four eco-councillors
4. Biodiversity and green spaces
5. Energy efficiency
6. Energy generation
14. Getting elected
Appendix: Executive summary of the Transition Audit of Somerset County Council
A few months ago I was asked to describe Alexis Rowell in one word. The word I came up with was Rottweiler! When he gets his teeth into an idea or into you he just doesn't let go! That's really important for a subject like climate change and the environment. Too many of us profess great concern about the environment as long as we don't have to do something; as long as we don't have to change our life style.
In this book Alexis shakes councillors like me out of complacency. Can we do anything about the polar ice caps? By ourselves - no. But if we all did our bit then there would be major changes in environmental activity and some of those things that are going so desperately wrong would be changed.
It's at council level, where we engage with people on a daily basis, that we can talk to people, explain to people and get them involved in the eco-movement. This book doesn't tell us how to do it. It show's us how to do it. It's crammed with good practice, it overflows with enthusiasm from Alexis and all those people he talks about within it. This book is not just a good read its a good starting point for any councillor who know that they 'should do something' but just don't know where to start.
Cllr Richard Kemp,
Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Local Government
Alexis Rowell is an inspiring figure who has done a huge amount to make local government more sustainable. This excellent book distills all his detailed knowledge and on-the-ground experience and will prove an invaluable resource for any green-minded councillor or community group.
Duncan Clark, 10:10 / The Guardian
"The preachig holier-than-thou nature which many associate with climate change is noticeable absent from this book and it is evident that Rowell and others like him have made inroads into changing local authorities' view of climate change and peak oil."
"Communities, Councils and a Low Carbon Future is an indispendable guide to what councils do, what they could do and how to get in there and make a difference."
"Alexis Rowell has written what is liely to become the bible for community-council joint action. If you wamt to get seriously stuck into this, Communities, Councils and a Low Carbn Future is jam-packed full of useful information, inspiration and advice."
In previous high-carbon lives Alexis Rowell was a journalist and a businessman. His environmental concerns led him into local politics in the London Borough of Camden in 2006, and in 2010 he won a national Sustainability Councillor of the Year award. He now runs an environmental consultancy called cuttingthecarbon and works part-time for the 10:10 Campaign. He also helps to coordinate Transition Belsize and the Camden Climate Action Network.