Building the Low Carbon Economy on Merseyside: Follow on funding

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Geography


This bid for Follow on Funding aims to maintain the momentum of and maximise the impact of the recently completed and successful ESRC-funded Knowledge Exchange Project "Developing the Low Carbon Economy on Merseyside", Project Ref RES-185-31-0113. The project was a Knowledge Exchange Partnership involving the University of Liverpool, Liverpool Vision (the city's economic development company), Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, and Groundwork Merseyside. The KE partnership ran from September 2009 to July 2010, and through knowledge exchange, secondments, observation of the policy process, a series of seminars, and an impact generating project explored:

Now Liverpool has re-branded itself, how can its economic development agencies effectively facilitate the transition to a low carbon economy?

Does the city have the right policies to combine a healthy, vibrant and socially inclusive local economy with what we need to do to avoid dangerous climate change?

Specifically, what does this mean for the support of new and existing businesses and social enterprises on Merseyside as they and the economy make the transition to a low carbon economy? How can new businesses and social enterprises be supported to engage with low carbon opportunities? How can existing businesses and social enterprises be supported to make the transition?

How can the partners ensure that socially excluded communities can benefit from low carbon opportunities?

The partners now seek Follow-on Funding to maximise the impact of this research with funding for

(a) support for reciprocal exchanges between Liverpool and previous and existing Green Capitals (Stockholm and Hamburg) to facilitate a decision about whether to embark on a formal bid to be Green Capital to focus and catalyse Liverpool's progress towards a low carbon economy, much as Capital of Culture status catalysed the city's rebranding;

(b) support for a programme of seminars mainstreaming low carbon into the city's economic development strategy. These seminars would focus on developing a low carbon knowledge strategy, a low carbon visitor strategy, low carbon port and associated logistics, and the low carbon environmental technologies sectors. A fifth seminar would explore energy descent pathways for the city region.

(c) a dedicated Research Fellow to be based at the University of Liverpool, but spending time on secondment to the three partners. Our research shows that business advisors helping businesses reduce emssions only go so far in their advice: they do not delve deep into the businesses day to day processes and practices. We also found out that businesses who are reluctant to make changes do listen to other businesspeople who have taken steps to green their businesses, and who can point to the benefits. The RF would work with the partners and the city's low carbon business advisors and businesspeople who have taken action on low carbon (Green Ambassadors) to help them build their capacity to go deeper into the business practices to identify ways to minimise carbon emissions and energy use, beyond that possible with existing programmes, and to help business advisors and Green Ambassadors reach businesses that have not as yet taken action on low carbon; and

(d) support for wider dissemination of findings building on the Low Carbon Liverpool brand already established, to academic audiences though academic publications, and to practitioners though the practitioner press and websites/email discussion lists.

Planned Impact

This bid aims to secure and progress the long term impact of
the "Developing the low carbon economy on Merseyside". This has achieved a conceptual impact of an understanding that action on climate change and resource constraints is necessary, and need not be at the cost of livlihoods and economic vibrancy. But the low carbon economy is seen as a new form of growth, alongside existing economic activities. Long term impact needs to be secured through mainstreaming low carbon into mainstream local economic policy.

(a) At a conceptual level impact will be progressed by support for the PI and partners to fund reciprocal research visits to existing Green Capitals (Stockholm and Hamburg) to facilitate a decision about whether to embark on a bid to be European Green Capital. This is seen as a way to secure commitment to and catalyse progress toward low carbon. Research would look to practically support partners in identifying what the process for bidding for Green Capital is by accessing winning partners' experiences, and identify what the costs of bidding and the benefits of winning are;

(b) Support for a programme of five bi-monthly seminars mainstreaming low carbon into the city's economic development strategy and exploring energy descent pathways for the city. They would be organised in partnership with partners and focused on local practitioners and decision makers, with speakers from other cities providing examples of best practice. Findings would be communicated through the existing website, through policy briefs, through the Facebook page and blogs, and through press releases;

(c) At the practical, policy and programme level, we propose support for a dedicated Research Fellow to be based at the University of Liverpool, but spending time on secondment to the three partners. As discussed in the case for support, the RF would build the capacity of the cities' business advisors and 'Green Ambassadors' (businesspeople who have taken significant action on low carbon) to practically progress decarbonisation at a deeper level through technical and personal skill development delivered through a series of monthly interactive workshops, and through site visits to amdassadors premises. This would be delivered in partnership with the Chamber and Groundwork. The RF would also work with Liverpool Vision, The School for Social Entrepreneurs, and the city's Community Economic Development agencies to develop practical support for developing the capacity of residents in socially excluded communities to benefit from low carbon; and

(d) Support for wider dissemination of findings. Academic outputs have already been produced for Geography Compass and International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, and disseminated at international at academic and practitioner conferences. Further outputs are planned for Transactions of theInstitute of British Geographers, Local Environment, and Environment and Urbanisation. We have yet to fully engage with the practitioner press (both print and websites), including the uploading outputs to the ESRC's website. We propose practitioner focused articles for New Start, Local Government Chronicle, Town and Country Planning, and Regeneration and Renewal. Finally we will engage with low carbon websites and email lists like Transition Towns, Low Carbon Communities and the Sustainable Development Research Network. Our partners in the Chamber have supported us well with press releases, but more work can be done to place articles in the national press.
Description The project developed our understanding of the capacity of actors to act locally to progress climate change policy in the context of the financial crisis that broke out in 2008 and subsequent austerity in cities that do not perceive that they have any moral obligation to act, where emissions reduction is happening in an organic manner as a result of industrialization, where the financial case to change track is not strong, where the capacity to act locally is limited, and where the priority is seen as reigniting growth. It suggested that the need to avoid dangerous climate change in the future is not a priority when in competition with more short term economic pressures and political pressures around electoral cycles.
Exploitation Route The findings of this project would be of use to scholars wanting to understand local action on climate change in more detail, perhaps exploring values-action and implementation gaps in ordinary cities that do not see themselves as policy leaders in the field of climate policy.
Sectors Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description As discussed in the previous submission, the findings of the project fed into Liverpool City Council's decision to establish a Mayoral Commission on Environmental Sustainability which recommended a number of issues, many of which were included in the findings of the Low Carbon Liverpool Report, for action at the city region level following devolution to a city region mayor. This work is ongoing - Liverpool City Region will be electing a new city region Mayor in May 2017 and the recommendations of the Low Carbon Liverpool report will be discussed with the new Mayor after June. The Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership is also developing a city region energy strategy, which has been informed by the Low Carbon Liverpool report. Brexit means that it is unlikely that Liverpool will bid to be European Green Capital, although this is not at this stage a certainty.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Economic