The need for dialogue
In the past two years, UK organisations have increased their response to the climate crisis – with local authorities, universities, NHS trusts, engineering and energy firms declaring a climate emergency and announcing plans to become carbon-neutral ahead of the 2050 national target. Public engagement is critically important for climate change planning because, without it, change will falter through lack of support.
Following the Covid-19 pandemic, many people are seeking not just a new normal, but a ‘better normal’ – one which more sustainable and prioritises health and wellbeing. Now is the time to build on this positive drive for change and implement a ‘green recovery’.
But change is never easy and will impact on the day-to-day lives of businesses and individuals. Their involvement is crucial in addressing the effects of climate change successfully.
The regulatory framework
The need to engage local people is enforced by regulations: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has provisions on involving, engaging, and educating the public; similarly, the Paris Agreement urges public and private sector participation in implementing climate objectives.
Long term engagement
For most organisations, public engagement and consultation to date will have centred on one-off projects or those with a relatively short time frame. Conversations on climate change, on the other hand, are more long-term, as well as deeper and more extensive, which requires a different approach.