Planning for economic recovery

By Dr Beatriz Aguirre-Martínez

In this post-Covid period, we need new investments in jobs and skills after a significant economic contraction. As part of a webinar series for the CREDS project, a team of researchers led by the Sussex Energy Groups’s Tim Foxon, examined how Brighton and the North of Tyne Combined Authority could use Local Green New Deals to provide this investment, while also responding to the Net Zero Challenge. Here’s what they found.

A Local Green New Deal (LGND) is a recovery package that strengthens jobs and skills around green technologies and innovations in a region, promoting social and environmental values. In other words, an LGND involves specific actions that encourage energy demand reduction while maintaining the quality of life, clean air, or improving mental health. 

When it comes to Local Green New Deals, there are a lot of investment options to choose from. So how can local governments decide which green recovery plans to support, and how can these be assessed for wider social and environmental benefits?

The research group ran a survey and a workshop to assess citizens’ views on how these mitigation options to reduce energy demand towards the net-zero targets could contribute to their overall well-being.

Some surprising results

The North of Tyne and Greater Brighton survey results were surprisingly similar. After ranking 14 demand-side climate mitigation options, respondents from both regions agreed that having more affordable public transport and efficient use of energy in their households were the options that most contributed to an increase in their well-being.

Respondents also highlighted their preference for funding demand-side options: more central government funding and community municipal bonds.

In the workshop, six of the demand-side climate mitigation options from the survey results – the two highest, two from the middle band, and the two less preferred – were selected and 25 local participants rated the benefits derived from each option, in relation to six well-being criteria (two economic, two social and two environmental).

Applying a Multi-Criteria Mapping tool, developed at the University of Sussex, participants rated options in relation to these criteria and to provide a final score, weighing the importance of each one.

In Brighton, the results showed that the preferred options were affordable public transport and nature-based solutions, whilst the less favoured options were a plant-based diet and car-free zones.

In North of Tyne, results showed higher overall favourability scores for five options than in Brighton. Participants rated most highly home energy efficiency and cheap public transport, and also had favourable views of nature-based solutions, car-free zones, and active travel, whilst plant-based diets were significantly less favoured.

Consulting a wide range of citizens is crucial

Local Green New Deals are arguably essential and relevant strategies that allow communities to progress after a crisis and contribute to a reduction in carbon footprint whilst delivering economic, social and environmental benefits.

Communities must decide together on which strategies to implement first and how. In prioritising different options, many factors need to come together: budgeting, listening to citizens and understanding which project has a more significant impact on well-being but also in reaching net-zero carbon goals.

This research highlights the importance of engaging with a range of citizens in local areas, not just those with the loudest voices, to uncover their views on which measures local and regional authorities should undertake to promote citizens’ well-being, benefit the environment and contribute to a community’s economic recovery.

This blog was originally published on the CREDS project website. Find the original post here.

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Posted in Energy and Society, Just and Sustainable Transitions to Net Zero, renewables, Sussex and local, Wellbeing and ecological economics

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The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the individual authors and do not represent Sussex Energy Group.

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