Developing the Low Carbon Economy on Merseyside

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Geography


Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.
Description The need to avoid dangerous climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and concerns about the depletion of fossil fuel reserves are two of the 'grand challenges' facing humanity. While the International Panel of Climate Change has documented the dangers associated with anthropogenic climate change, action to reduce emissions at a global scale has been disappointing. Peter North has been researching the potentials and limitations of action to reduce greenhouse gasses at more local scales: that of (a) citizen based action, and (b) at the urban scale.
North and his team's research on community-based action, such as Transition Towns and Low Carbon Communities identified a vibrant and active community of people taking responsibility for their contribution to dangerous climate change, although the capacity of individuals to effect change at a larger scale is limited. They have been the source of many creative solutions to the problem of creating a convivial, egalitarian low carbon economy. These remedies have included new locally-based businesses, local food and power production, work with householders on reducing household energy use, and local money networks.
If the ability of community action to take significant steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is limited, cities have emerged as central sites for achieving concrete reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, in many ways as a direct response to concerns about the lack of action at the global scale. In some cities, this is not well understood: economic growth is the priority. This was the case for Liverpool, a city that had recently revitalised its image, but still suffered from deprivation. It was not at the forefront of low carbon policy.
North's research since 2002 has focussed on how ideas generated by environmental groups and activists which challenge accepted wisdom about how to ensure that cities are prosperous and vibrant places in which to live, work and do business might hold potential solutions to urban problems that accepted paradigms do not address: for example avoiding dangerous climate change or creating socially inclusive cities. A city might be prosperous, but also socially divided. Greenhouse gas emissions might not be coming down. The Low Carbon Liverpool project aimed (a) to use North's research findings on the usefulness or otherwise of ideas developed by the environmental activist groups like Transition Towns such as local food production, local power generation, local currencies and the like to help revitalise parts of Liverpool that the city's revitalised image had passed by and to support the ability of SMEs and social enterprises to take advantage of opportunities from the low carbon economy and (b) to understand if the city had the right policies in place to secure its continued prosperity and do what it needs to do to avoid dangerous climate change.
Exploitation Route Please see Follow on Funding ES/J010618/1
Sectors Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description With partners in the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, the city's economic development company Liverpool Vision, and environmental NGO Groundwork Merseyside, Liverpool University researchers North, Nurse and Barker established the ESRC-funded Low Carbon Liverpool Knowledge Exchange Partnership as a "focussed attempt to shift the framework of public policy and shape the terms of public debate within Liverpool around the challenges of climate change and the need for cities to embrace a low carbon approach to sustainability". The Partners worked together to develop common understandings of the issues through secondments of university researchers to the partners, through participant observation of the policy making process, and through action research. Results were published in a report (North and Barker, 2011 available at and presented to an audience of some seventy local policy makers in February 2011. The report's recommendations were welcomed by our local partners who felt it and associated consultations provided a "strong evidence base" which "helped catalyse a coalition that is determined to ensure that Liverpool creates the conditions that enable the city to reap the rewards from such an approach'". Research findings framed a new understanding on the need for Liverpool to develop on a more sustainable approach, which were written into local strategic documents including Merseyside's Local Transport Plan: "The project helped to provide a platform for taking forward key themes around reducing carbon emissions from transport whilst supporting sustainable economic growth, where walking, cycling and public transport are the modes of transport of choice, and where long distance trips by motorised transport are minimised." The Primary Care Trust who provided funding for a Strategic Policy Officer based at the Chamber of Commerce to take the project forward. U future round of ESRC Follow On Funding was won, ES/J010618/1 which developed the impact.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice