Cambridge Carbon Footprint and Akashi projects
The Cambridge Carbon footprint project, set up in July 2005, is a city wide project to reach the 120,000 population. It was instigated through the founder reading a Centre of Alternative Technology paper – studying the relationship of work, climate change, communication and psychology. The next step seemed obvious – to make a practical implementation of the findings. Starting off as just two volunteers, the group ran a stall on local street party using the CAT carbon calculator in conjunction with a ‘lowest footprint’ competition. The success of this approach led them to increase the number of fairs they attended, with the aim of engaging people in carbon conversations as opposed to giving advice about what to do to cut carbon emissions. The group now operates as a not for profit company limited by guarantee, with a committee of ten, two part time employees funded by Cambridge City council and a wider volunteer team of eighty.
What are they doing
The group has a mailing list of 800 people who have been ‘signed up’ at the thirty-per-year foot-printing events. As well as these events, this organisation also runs Carbon Challenge Groups, which, over a course of five sessions looks at how we can each reduce our carbon footprint. So far twenty courses have been conducted. Attendees pay a £7.50 for the entire course. Part of the material trains attendees how to take the methodology out to the wider community, so there is a self perpetuating ripple effect. Those who have completed the course are invited onto the carbon reduction network. To give an example of its success- 150 people have completed the course and 110 have subscribed to the Network. As well as community stalls, the project has increased its profile through local media publicity including radio and the local commercial television network; word of mouth, a travelling exhibition & also a workplace programme and street leaflets.
The Akashi project, funded by DEFRA, and started a year later, engages people, often minority groups, who have a climate story to tell through having friends and relations in their home countries currently being impacted by climate change. The project also finds that these groups, coming from overseas, are closer to memories of low carbon lives and have a greater value for the natural world which they can communicate.
In terms of impact, the project carried out 500 footprints in its first year, and now routinely conducts 750 footprints per year. The organisation estimates that with every footprint conducted, a further five people will have looked at their stall. In conjunction with this baseline activity, the group also stages high profile events such as the Energy Wizards competition a year ago with twelve local primary schools.
Cambridge Carbon Footprint Top Tip
This project is about connection with people, communication and creativity. It uses a list of core principles in all its engagement techniques and feels this is crucial to maintaining a professional profile.
Tools: Listening skills, group work skills, community work skills
Organisations: Centre for Alternative Technology
Web address: www.cambridgecarbonfootprint.org