9.1.1 This report has set out the key findings of a qualitative review of 21 projects supported by the Scottish Government's Climate Challenge Fund. This chapter brings together the main conclusions from the review and sets out the implications and resulting recommendations for the Scottish Government.
9.1.2 It should be stressed that - as for the report as a whole - the findings reflect the experiences of the 21 projects selected for review and cannot be considered representative of the Fund as a whole. They do, however, provide an indication of the sorts of achievements that are likely to have occurred across the Fund more widely and an illustration of how community initiatives can encourage low carbon behaviours, the barriers projects face, and the factors that influence success.
9.1.3 The conclusions are organised around the following headings:
- Outcomes of the CCF
- Implications for projects
- Implications for fund managers
- Implications for policy-makers
9.2 OUTCOMES FROM THE CCF
9.2.1 The CCF projects worked in four key areas: energy (efficiency and renewables), food, transport and waste. They delivered a diverse array of outputs at varying scales. In the 21 projects selected for the review, more than a thousand homes have had energy checks, several hundred have been insulated, around 100 homes are installing renewable energy or heating, many thousands have received advice on cycling and travel, many new food growing spaces have been developed and more people are eating locally produced food.
9.2.2 The review identified five different ways in which projects had influenced behaviour - reflecting the fact that participants started with differing perspectives on the behaviours that were being encouraged. Projects were generally more effective at the first three of these:
- Accelerating: projects overcame inertia among participants;
- Activating: projects opened up new possibilities that people might not have otherwise considered;
- Facilitating: projects supported participants in working through change processes and barriers which they may have found daunting without projects' help;
- Consolidating: projects reinforced existing pro-environmental behaviours among participants; and
- Converting: projects rarely succeeded in convincing those to change who saw no merit in it.
9.2.3 The review found only very limited evidence of behavioural spillover effects (in the sense that one behaviour leads automatically to the next and then another and so on). Participants tended not to perceive pro-environmental behaviours as 'linked' (in the way that project managers or policy makers see them as linked) 30, and moving from one to another was rarely a natural progression for them. Where projects were deliberately trying to encourage spillover, it only seemed to succeed where participants saw an intuitive link between the behaviours (from food growing to composting, for example). The short timescale of this review, however, may mean that it was too early to detect spill-over effects. A longer term study would be required to substantiate whether or not participants ratchet-up low carbon behaviours over time and which types of engagement approach (if any) lead to behavioural spill-over.
9.2.4 Impacts on participants' environmental attitudes appeared limited. Projects were mainly working with audiences who were 'moderately interested' in the environment, with much more scope for changing behaviour than attitudes.
9.2.5 Lifetime carbon emissions savings were estimated for eight of the projects included in the review, and expressed in terms of 'higher' (optimistic) and 'lower' (conservative) estimates. The lower estimates of the lifetime savings from the eight projects totalled just under 15,500 tonnes CO 2e (equivalent to the annual energy consumption of 2,360 homes), while the higher estimates totalled just under 46,700 tonnes CO 2e (equivalent to the annual energy consumption of 7,140 homes). There was more certainty in the carbon savings achieved through interventions focusing on 'hard' measures (such as insulation) than from interventions to change habitual behaviours. Some of these habitual behaviours can, however, have more 'engaging power' in terms of inspiring participants to get involved in projects.
9.2.6 The CCF projects taking part in the review were also found to have additional sustainability benefits, for example in terms of health and well-being, community cohesion, benefits to local economies and improvements to local environments.
9.2.7 Some of the projects had longer-term plans to build community capacity and willingness to take action on climate change, and more generally to encourage their communities to embrace environmental values and sustainable lifestyles. Community projects may also play a role in beginning to make non-mainstream behaviours more visible, in supporting 'early adopters' of behaviours, and potentially contributing to changing social norms in the long term.
9.3 IIMPLICATIONS FOR COMMUNITY CLIMATE AND BEHAVIOUR CHANGE PROJECTS
9.3.1 A number of factors influenced the degree of success of the projects in engaging people to change their behaviours. Some were highly specific to the behaviours being targeted, while others were cross-cutting.
Topic-specific success factors
9.3.2 Lending out energy monitors for participants to use drew their attention to established habits and highlighted where they could do more to save energy. Personal support from projects was useful in ensuring participants knew how to work the monitors, and being required to return the monitor at the end of the loan provided added impetus to use them. Verbal advice on changing home energy behaviours tended to be less effective, unless it was highly tailored or highlighted unusual energy-saving behaviours - thereby grabbing participants' attention.
9.3.3 The provision of energy audits by projects was a useful tool in helping participants to identify more significant home energy efficiency improvements that they could make. Face-to-face recruitment of participants and having a reputation as a trusted local organisation enhanced the take-up of audits. The information provided through these audits needs to be tailored to the property and household, and specialist knowledge of local housing types and appropriate solutions was therefore valuable for projects.
9.3.4 "Hand-holding" participants through the process of identifying home energy efficiency improvements - including assistance in applying for grants or subsidies if applicable, and in identifying a contractor - helped to overcome barriers related to fear of hassle and effort.
9.3.5 Community projects tended to be more trusted than energy efficiency improvement schemes delivered on a larger scale, and there may be opportunities for projects to work with such schemes to combine their strengths.
9.3.6 Promoting domestic renewable energy as a follow-on from home energy efficiency improvements appeared to make the idea less daunting than it would have been on its own.
9.3.7 A community bulk-buy scheme for solar thermal panels was used effectively to reduce cost barriers for participating households. This scheme may have the additional benefit of beginning to change social norms, simply by increasing the number of people in the community who have experience of it and by making it more visible.
9.3.8 Energy behaviour changes were usually financially motivated, and messages focused on cost savings were generally the most effective in promoting changes in this area.
9.3.9 Food growing projects that had identified an existing demand for growing opportunities were able to change behaviour simply through the provision of growing space. Some innovative models were developed for this, including a "garden share" scheme which provided social as well as environmental benefits.
9.3.10 Careful pairing up of participants, diplomatically managed by the project, was key to the success of garden shares.
9.3.11 In community gardens, good relationship management was key to successful running of the project. Giving participants a degree of ownership and responsibility, avoiding a top-down approach, helped to keep them engaged.
9.3.12 Enjoyment and well-being were key motivators for taking part in food growing projects. For those without a prior interest in growing, the opportunity to learn skills and increase their employability was important.
9.3.13 Projects targeting sustainable food purchasing behaviours found that 'local food' provided a wider gateway into sustainable food than other possible hooks, such as 'organic' or 'sustainable'. The concept of local food often appealed to participants' existing desire to support the local economy, as well as their sense of place. Signposting these interested participants to opportunities to source local food was effective at changing their behaviour.
9.3.14 Encouraging participants to explore sustainable food purchasing choices within their comfort zones, and without being judgemental, led them to make changes in consumption habits without feeling like they were being asked to do 'too much'.
9.3.15 Motivations for changing food behaviours were varied: as well as encompassing the local economy, they covered environmental issues, food quality and taste, and healthy eating.
9.3.16 The most successful interventions to encourage cycling were those providing intensive personal support to help participants change their behaviour - peer champions in the workplace, for example, could be instrumental in encouraging participants to commute by bicycle.
9.3.17 Trial bicycles allowed participants to try cycling without the need to make an upfront financial investment.
9.3.18 Free bicycle repairs provided in easily accessible locations (such as workplaces) encouraged some participants to re-start cycling, by removing the effort involved in getting their old bicycles repaired, which can be a cause of inertia.
9.3.19 Cycle training helped some participants to acquire the skills needed for cycling.
9.3.20 Given that transport behaviours appear to be some of the most difficult to influence, transport behaviour change projects will most likely need to offer a package of options to participants (including promoting a range of transport modes) if they are to overcome the multiple barriers to change; and the most effective means of delivering these are likely to involve face-to-face engagement.
9.3.21 Geographical factors - distance and travel time, for example - will affect the willingness of participants to adopt new travel behaviours. In designing their interventions, projects will need to consider the target audience's current travel behaviours and perceptions, as well as practical local constraints, to determine which travel modes are feasible and how much scope there is for change.
9.3.22 The evidence suggests that motivations to do with fitness - more so than health - are likely to be the most important for participants, and messaging should be tailored accordingly.
9.3.23 Making waste visible, for example by encouraging participants to measure their waste, can be effective in promoting waste reduction behaviours.
9.3.24 Composting was, for many participants, the 'next natural step' from food growing, and was also found in a small number of cases to have triggered food waste reduction behaviours.
9.3.25 Waste behaviour changes were often motivated by a dislike of waste or a sense that these behaviours were 'common sense'.
9.3.26 Although multi-strand projects sometimes led to a large number of small behaviour changes for environmental reasons, participants were more likely to engage in a single behaviour strand - where the success factors, effective messages and motivations were much as outlined above.
9.3.27 Including an environmental message in a multi-strand project was vital in providing participants with a conceptual link between the different activities -important to participants' understanding of project aims and therefore building trust.
9.3.28 Schoolchildren enjoyed hands-on activities and were most likely to make those behaviour changes that they were empowered to do, as opposed to those requiring action by other members of the household ( e.g. parents).
9.3.29 Projects need to give careful consideration to balancing the time and resource commitments that schools are being asked to make with the benefits to the schools themselves from taking part in the project.
9.3.30 Teaching skills, and an understanding of educational processes more generally, are important for project staff delivering school-based activities.
9.3.31 There was no evidence of spontaneous spill-over effects from school-based activities to the behaviour of other family members, though there is scope for exploring whether such effects could be encouraged through homework that requires input from the rest of the household.
9.3.32 School-based projects need buy-in from the head teacher, and ideally from the whole school, to succeed.
Cross-cutting success factors
9.3.33 The most successful projects combined effective behaviour change techniques with organisational competence. The following are key factors for community behaviour change projects to take into consideration.
9.3.34 As in other evaluations of community-based initiatives 31, this review found that projects tended to underestimate the time it would take to set up their activities and to recruit participants and volunteers. This caused delays and jeopardised project objectives in some cases. Effective project planning and identification of contingencies alleviated these risks.
Organisational learning culture
9.3.35 The most successful projects were those that were open to scrutinising their own approaches, learning from experience (their own as well as other projects') and adapting and improving their messages and interventions. The CCF's approach to funding projects in rounds has been conducive to learning, by creating natural breaks in projects for reflection and improvement. Projects could usefully build points for reflection and self-critique into their project plans.
People and skills
9.3.36 Some of the key characteristics of effective project teams included good knowledge of the project topic, good people skills (including communications and friendly manner), and 'walking the talk' while not being judgemental if participants were not engaged in pro-environmental behaviours.
9.3.37 Volunteers were more motivated when they were given the opportunity to shape the direction of the project as well as specific project activities, and when they themselves got something out of volunteering ( e.g. a new skill). In contrast, if roles were prescribed top-down, volunteers tended to find them less inspiring.
Understanding the audience and the intervention
9.3.38 One of the key strengths of community behaviour change projects is their ability to tailor and personalise messages and interventions to appeal to participants' motivations and help them overcome the particular barriers that apply in each case. A good understanding of the target audience is a crucial starting point, including who to target and what their current behaviours motivations and barriers are.
9.3.39 Projects need to be able to articulate how their suggested intervention will appeal to the motivations and overcome barriers among their target audience. Experiences of the projects taking part in the review suggested that messages and interventions appealing to personal rather than environmental motivations were most effective. At the same time, being open about the project's own environmental goals was helpful in building trust.
9.3.40 Being alive to the potential roles they can play in accelerating, activating and facilitating change (see paragraph 9.2.2) can help projects improve the effectiveness of interventions. Projects should also give consideration to how they might reach beyond those with some existing interest in their activities and begin to play more of a 'conversion' function.
Effective use of engagement channels and interventions
9.3.41 Active engagement methods (usually involving face-to-face contact) were generally the most effective. In particular, they enabled projects to deliver individual tailoring of project messages and interventions.
9.3.42 Passive communications ( e.g. direct mail) are less suited to being tailored and were generally less effective in the projects reviewed, particularly if they were unsolicited by participants. Passive communications can play a role in supporting other engagement activities but do not seem to be especially effective on their own. Passive methods tended to succeed where they appealed to a previously identified interest among the target audience ( e.g. Edinburgh Garden Share Scheme's recruitment leaflets) or were used to communicate with participants who had signed up to receive these communications ( e.g. the Fife Diet newsletters).
9.3.43 The carbon assessment highlighted that some interventions can result in relatively large emissions savings per participant, but due to intensity of delivery can only reach a relatively small number of participants ( e.g. personal engagement), while other interventions may achieve smaller savings per participant, but can reach a larger number of people ( e.g. passive communications). Project managers need to consider how to best strike a balance between potential reach and emissions savings when choosing different types of interventions.
Building a high profile locally
9.3.44 Where projects had built themselves a local reputation and profile, they tended to find it easier to engage new participants, because they already had a positive impression of the project. Building up a profile does, however, take time. There was also some evidence to suggest that links with other local entities that the community felt antipathy towards could taint the project's profile by association.
9.4 IMPLICATIONS FOR FUND MANAGERS
9.4.1 There are a number of suggestions that can be made on the basis of the review about what fund managers can do to further enhance the effectiveness of funded projects and of the fund as a whole. Key recommendations are set out below.
Provide further training in key areas to support project delivery
9.4.2 Project managers valued the training opportunities available to them but the review identified aspects in which some projects' performance could still be improved. There may be scope for providing additional training in the following areas that were identified as particularly crucial to successful project delivery::
- Communications - including the effective use of different communication channels and messaging;
- Behaviour change theory and practice - including means of gaining insight into participant motivations and barriers and designing effective interventions in that context;
- Project planning - including resourcing, timescales and motivating volunteers;
- The statutory planning process (see below); and
- Monitoring and evaluation - including how to incorporate lessons from action learning into revised project plans (also see below for more detail).
9.4.3 Network meetings could be used for projects to learn about and share evaluation techniques. The Scottish Government may also wish to consider ways to support peer mentoring.
Support projects in tackling external barriers to change
9.4.4 The review identified a range of barriers to change, some of which projects were able to tackle more successfully than others. In some areas, additional support at the fund management level may be beneficial in helping projects overcome external barriers.
9.4.5 Specifically, fund managers may wish to consider more systematically areas in which community groups can contribute to change by helping to reduce costs for participants - such as bulk buying of domestic renewable systems, insulation or local food - and support projects in developing such interventions.
9.4.6 Fund managers may also wish to revisit the support offered to projects in terms of planning applications, as these were in some cases found to cause delays (to the implementation of changes by participants or to the set-up of project activities). It could be possible, for example, to:
- Review bids that have planning implications in order to ensure that projects have planned for this (including contingencies in terms of time and resources as well as alternative activities) and are supported with the necessary expertise;
- Develop a training package for projects on submitting planning applications;
- Provide one-to-one support for projects that need it by KSB officers attending pre-planning discussions with local authorities; and
- It might also be beneficial if a planning expert were to sit on the assessment panel in order to identify any potential pitfalls and to make recommendations about the best approach to securing planning consent.
Encourage projects to extend their reach and functions
9.4.7 Projects were most successful at engaging people with a strong or moderate interest in the environment, and accelerating, activating and facilitating change among them. There may be scope for projects to actively try and extend their reach further and play more of a 'conversion' function. This could be as simple as encouragement for participants to 'refer a friend', or relate to the channels used to recruit participants (direct contact, for example, rather than using passive techniques that may only attract those with some existing interest). It may be that an assessment panel on any future fund could play an active role in identifying such opportunities.
Continue to encourage the diffusion of learning
9.4.8 An organisational learning culture was identified as a key success factor in this review. Project managers were keen for others to learn from their experiences - and indeed they themselves had networked with other CCF projects when starting out. A number of steps could be taken by the fund managers to further encourage projects to learn lessons from similar activities previously undertaken elsewhere. Specifically, it could be possible to:
- Make consultation with at least one existing project a condition of funding;
- Develop a directory of projects funded by the CCF, providing details of location, interventions employed, behaviours targeted, organisational aspects etc. 32;
- Cover travel and subsistence costs to allow successful bidders to visit existing projects and to learn from them;
- The assessment panel could play an expert role in recommending projects that might be able to offer useful lessons to bidders; and
- Where the assessment panel identified a project that was particularly complex, or where the project team was relatively inexperienced, providing funds for 'buddying' support might be worth considering - either from an existing project or an expert third party ( NESTA's use of UnLtd to provide support to finalists in the Big Green Challenge might be a useful model here).
Promote strategic links with national programmes and avoid duplication
9.4.9 Many of the Climate Challenge Fund projects are operating in the same area as a national initiative (Eco-Schools and EST Scotland's Home Insulation Scheme ( HIS) for example). Duplication of roles has the potential to confuse local participants and makes service delivery less efficient, while there are opportunities for mutual benefit from collaborating. In the case of future funding programmes, it may be worth the fund managers:
- Conducting a mapping exercise prior to the launch of a fund to identify programmes that could overlap with the work carried out by community projects;
- Identifying opportunities for collaborative working between national or regional providers and local community groups; and
- Requiring potential bidders to demonstrate how they would complement, build on, or work in partnership with existing initiatives, rather than replicating them.
Review project selection criteria
9.4.10 This review has identified a number of factors which are particularly crucial to projects' success (discussed in Chapters 4 and 5, and summarised in section 9.3 above). While it may not be possible to be prescriptive about all of these, there are some that could be incorporated into the criteria when evaluating projects' bids for grant funding, including:
- Projects' knowledge and understanding of their target audience, particularly motivations and barriers, and why the proposed intervention is expected to work in that context;
- Projects' plans for learning from experience (their own and others') and adapting their approach accordingly.
9.4.11 Assessment panels could play an active role in highlighting risks of delays and over-runs in project plans and play a supportive role in suggesting contingencies, alternatives, or a change in budget for those selected for funding.
9.4.12 A number of issues are also highlighted in section 9.5 below which may implicate changes to the selection criteria. These include:
- The possible inclusion of criteria covering a range of sustainability goals in addition to carbon emissions reduction; and
- The possible development of criteria for supporting projects on longer timescales.
Refine monitoring and evaluation requirements and processes
Projects' evaluation activities and reporting
9.4.13 Projects were generally appreciative of the Scottish Government's 'light touch' approach to evaluation requirements, but it does need to be acknowledged that in many cases this has made it difficult to develop a quantitative assessment of impact.
9.4.14 The most effective project evaluations blended robustness with simplicity, and were built into project planning and delivery from the outset. The Low Carbon Route Maps and evaluation support (including training) offered to projects were useful in achieving this balance, and should be retained in any future rounds of funding. There are a number of further simple steps that projects could build into their activities which will help them to collect data on behaviour change; examples are provided in chapter 6. The fund managers may also wish to take a more active role in ensuring that projects are paying enough attention to monitoring early on in their projects.
9.4.15 In addition, small changes to the project reporting template could enhance the wider knowledge base on effective approaches to behaviour change in climate change initiatives. Projects generally need to report more directly on specific lessons learned, including what worked in terms of behaviour change approaches and messages, and organisational aspects that underpinned effective delivery and engagement.
9.4.16 Specific issues are relevant to carbon monitoring, including: having to make assumptions about the rate of fulfilment of behaviour pledges; lack of research evidence on the durability of behaviour changes ( e.g. for everyday actions around the home); uncertainty about the emissions from different food choices (such as organic versus non-organic); and a lack of reliable data from project participant surveys.
9.4.17 Based on the experience of developing a consistent methodology and approach for assessing emission reductions, of working with the data collected by projects, and experience of sourcing the secondary data and emissions factors necessary for quantifying project savings, Ecometrica suggest the following areas for action:
- Lifetime savings. Projects should be encouraged to estimate the lifetime savings of their activities, so that decisions about project priorities are not skewed by short-term savings.
- Durability of behaviour change. Assumptions about the 'stickiness' of behaviour change are a significant source of uncertainty in the lifetime carbon reduction estimates because of gaps in the existing literature. Scottish Government should consider supporting research in this area.
- Guidance and templates for measuring project savings. It may be helpful for both projects and the CCF administrators/funders to have a more prescriptive structure for measuring projects' savings, based on the template used in the review Projects could be asked to identify at the outset the basis for their baseline and project scenarios, and how they will collect necessary data. Feedback and advice could be given by their KSB development officer so that gaps in the proposed approach can be addressed early.
- Hierarchy of data quality. Ideally projects should collect primary data - and they may be able to capture some data opportunistically while engaging with participants - but a more pragmatic mix of primary and secondary data is likely to be more typical. If good secondary data is available and primary data is time-consuming to collect, the project can make an informed decision about how much primary data it needs to collect.
- Emission saving factors. It is preferable to collect data about the baseline level of energy consumption and the fuel type used rather than use an emission savings factor (and its implicit assumptions about energy and energy use - for example, where insulation is installed). This applies to transport and food emission savings factors as well as energy emission savings factors. However, there is often a trade-off between data collection and project implementation, and in some cases emission saving factors may be the only practical option.
- Portal for factors and secondary data. A common 'approved' set of emission factors and secondary information could be provided via a common portal, to save time for project managers and encourage consistent approaches. Figures would be needed on values for emission factors, saving factors ( e.g. % energy or fuel savings for different measures, or energy yield figures for different types of renewables), rebound factors, and the expected lifetimes for different interventions and technologies. Providing a 'wiki' space for projects to share data and factors they have identified may also help to develop common practice (though demand for such a space would need to be assessed).
Fund evaluation and learning
9.4.18 Programmes with the scale and diversity of the Climate Challenge Fund are inherently difficult to evaluate because of the variety of approaches covered by the projects and the unique circumstances within which they operate. The qualitative approach taken in the review has provided rich insights on why and how behaviours changed but there are gaps in evidence on the quantitative impacts of projects and feedback from non-participants in projects' target audiences . In any future funding, Scottish Government needs to build on the qualitative approach taken in this review and explore methodologies for capturing quantitative data through the projects' own evaluations which can then be used to generate learning about the programme overall. Options to consider are:
- Provide a research or evaluation expert to support the fund assessment panel and to identify opportunities and barriers for data capture;
- Select evaluation case study projects at award stage and work with them to develop evaluation plans that fit with their project delivery model but also deliver robust data to support learning by Scottish Government;
- Provide further funding to selected case study projects to trial quantitative methods for capturing behaviour change impacts;
- Encourage projects to carry out their own research with non-participants in the area in which they operate. Projects may see this as a waste of time but it could help them to spot aspects of their approach that they need to change, as well as providing data to support learning for the fund overall, particularly about de-motivators or barriers beyond projects' control;
- As noted above, Scottish Government should also consider supporting longitudinal research into the durability of behaviours and long term impacts as this is a significant evidence gap.
9.5 IMPLICATIONS FOR POLICY
9.5.1 This section consists of two parts: the first outlines the unique characteristics of community projects - their strengths and limitations - and what these mean for how they fit into wider climate change policy, and the second sets out policy-level considerations for the future of the CCF which emerged from the review.
Key strengths of community-based approaches
Ability to overcome behavioural inertia and prompt action
9.5.2 Community projects appear to be particularly effective at engaging people who are already thinking of acting or who are amenable to the idea when introduced to the possibilities, and at accelerating, activating and facilitating behaviour change among them. Their effectiveness is largely due to their personal and tailored engagement approaches. This matches the evidence from other evaluations of community led climate change or sustainable living projects, such as Defra's Environmental Action Fund in England 33, or NESTA's Big Green Challenge 34.
Ability to tailor approaches to participants
9.5.3 The ability of community projects to tailor their messages to appeal to the particular motivations of individual participants, as well as tailoring their interventions in line with participants' circumstances and barriers, is one of their key strengths over other means of promoting behaviour change. Being part of and interacting with the communities they work with on a day-to-day basis allows community projects to really get to know their participants - including their motivations and barriers. Community projects are also able to spend the necessary time with each participant, working out the right solutions for them.
Being trusted by the local community
9.5.4 Projects were often seen by participants as trusted sources of information - to the point that in some cases participants were checking the credentials of national programmes with their local community project. The strong sense of trust seemed to stem from participants considering the local community project, more than any other entity, to have the community's interests at heart. Being closely supported by a trusted local organisation helped give participants the confidence to make changes.
Working on a meaningful scale
9.5.5 The community scale seems to be one at which climate change action is meaningful to people. It seems to be a large enough scale at which the overall impact is significant enough for action to be perceived worthwhile, but small enough for each individual to feel they have a valuable contribution to make, as well as a responsibility to contribute.
Changing social norms
9.5.6 By increasing the visibility of pro-environmental behaviours, supporting the 'early adopters' of these behaviours and making them more mainstream, community projects can make a contribution towards changing wider social norms by starting to change them within their communities.
Changing lifestyles and building community capacity for sustainability
9.5.7 Community projects have the potential to engage people in sustainable lifestyles, and build community capacity and willingness for climate action. These are processes that take time, and some of the projects taking part in the review were laying the groundwork for this type of in-depth engagement with their communities - for example by consulting with the community and getting people on board with the project's broad aims.
Preparing the ground for future behaviour change
9.5.8 By bringing the need for action on climate change into people's consciousness and making them more amenable to it, we could speculate that community projects are also preparing the ground for difficult choices that might have to be made by Government in the future - for example, where regulation or taxation may be required to accelerate the adoption of low carbon behaviours ( e.g. transport perhaps). Though this is an inherently political point, and might not be supported by the community sector, community projects could play an important role in preparing people for such changes by promoting the notion that environmental responsibility - and carbon emission reduction in particular - is an urgent and pressing issue.
Key limitations of community-based approaches
Community projects work on small scales
9.5.9 From the evidence in this review, it seems possible that community projects can actively engage a few thousand individuals within their communities at most, and within that only a proportion will change their behaviour. This may not appear very promising but the carbon savings from the projects were not insignificant and, crucially, it is unlikely they would have occurred without projects' interventions.
9.5.10 There did appear to be scope for scaling up projects that were delivered through existing entities, such as workplaces or schools (which effectively formed their own communities), where the projects themselves essentially acted as service providers and facilitators of engagement in these communities - handing over ownership of the project to the community. This may be better categorised as replication than scaling up, however. There was no evidence of this happening spontaneously - though it should be noted that many projects were still relatively young, and projects felt that they would need more resources (staff in particular) in order to expand.
9.5.11 Many projects felt that working on a larger scale would be less effective as it would dilute the community identity that was crucial to their activities, and in general there was more enthusiasm among projects for replication: diffusing learning and assisting new projects in getting set up. This suggests that a large number of small projects - in line with the CCF's existing approach - may be more effective than a small number of large projects.
There are external barriers to pro-environmental behaviour change
9.5.12 The review identified a range of barriers to behaviour change. While projects were able to help participants overcome many of these - particularly personal barriers - there were some, often external, barriers which were beyond the control of the participants and projects. These included lack of infrastructure (for example, for cycling or recycling), lack of access to sustainable food and lack of food growing spaces.
Suggestions for consideration in policy
Strategic focus and aims of the fund: carbon or beyond?
9.5.13 The carbon assessment suggested that there is a much greater degree of certainty over the level of emissions savings to be achieved through physical measures than behavioural measures, and it could be tempting to conclude that community projects should focus their efforts on energy efficiency measures, notably insulation. There are a number of counter-arguments to this, however.
9.5.14 Firstly, while hard energy efficiency measures deliver quick and relatively certain carbon emission savings, these measures will not alone be enough to achieve the scale of emissions cuts required in the context of national targets or of sustainability more broadly. Changes will also be required in more difficult areas, such as transport behaviour change and more sustainable diets. Longer-term interventions that build community capacity and willingness to act may be needed in these areas where 'quick wins' are less likely.
9.5.15 Second, some of the CCF projects set out with the aims of community engagement, capacity-building and longer-term sustainable lifestyle changes, and were unlikely to achieve significant carbon savings early on. Some interventions are particularly effective at 'drawing participants in' to these types of projects and engaging them in broader lifestyle changes - food projects appeared to be a good example. In contrast, those that achieve significant carbon savings quickly will not necessarily lead on to further behaviour change. Over-emphasis on carbon emission reductions in evaluating the outcomes of community projects would run the risk of missing opportunities to engage people on sustainable living more broadly.
9.5.16 The question is really one of the Scottish Government's strategic priorities: if it is solely concerned with carbon emissions reductions, there is a case for limiting support for projects that focus on behaviours which have relatively minor carbon impacts in the short term. If, on the other hand, the aim is also to strengthen communities, build longer term capacity for action and encourage sustainable lifestyles that encompass health and wellbeing, the balance may well shift.
9.5.17 It may be worth the Scottish Government giving some consideration to the CCF's strategic aims in the context of wider climate change policy. Community projects have unique capabilities to contribute to delivering sustainability (as outlined above) and the CCF could more explicitly support these unique functions, by re-phrasing its strategic aims to cover carbon savings, sustainable lifestyles and capacity building for climate action. This would help both policy and projects reduce the risk of over-prioritising quick carbon savings at the expense of other sustainability outcomes. The criteria used to select projects to fund would also need to be reflective of all of these different outcomes that community projects can deliver, to ensure that the fund as a whole delivers against all of its aims.
9.5.18 Community projects have the potential to help deliver against a range of sustainability goals, including building community capacity and willingness for climate action, influencing lifestyles and values, and changing social norms. All of these changes take time, and this needs to be recognised in the way that funds are designed and run - both at the policy level, in terms of long-term support, and at the fund management level.
Removing barriers to change
9.5.19 There may be more that the Scottish Government can do to work with community projects in removing some of the external barriers to behavioural change. Specifically, the Scottish Government could consider:
- Setting aside funding to allow community projects to contribute to the development of local infrastructure that would normally fall under the remit of local or central government, and which would facilitate carbon reduction behaviours. The nature of such a package would require further consideration 35.
- Using community projects as the 'eyes and ears' of government by encouraging them to identify barriers that fall outside their control, and to work with government or others to identify possible solutions. In order for such a feedback mechanism to be effective, it would need to be transparent, active (in that projects could expect a response to concerns raised rather than simply firing them into a void) and result in visible action where significant barriers were highlighted.