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Climate change mitigation potential of community-based initiatives in Europe

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Abstract and Figures

There is a growing recognition that a transition to a sustainable low-carbon society is urgently needed. This transition takes place at multiple and complementary scales, including bottom-up approaches such as community-based initiatives (CBIs). However, empirical research on CBIs has focused until now on anecdotal evidence and little work has been done to quantitatively assess their impact in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In this paper, we analyze 38 European initiatives across the food, energy, transport, and waste sectors to address the following questions: How can the GHG reduction potential of CBIs be quantified and analyzed in a systematic manner across different sectors? What is the GHG mitigation potential of CBIs and how does the reduction potential differ across domains? Through the comparison of the emission intensity arising from the goods and services the CBIs provide in relation to a business-as-usual scenario, we present the potential they have across different activities. This constitutes the foundational step to upscaling and further understanding their potential contribution to achieving climate change mitigation targets. Our findings indicate that energy generation through renewable sources, changes in personal transportation, and dietary change present by far the highest GHG mitigation activities analyzed, since they reduce the carbon footprint of CBI beneficiaries by 24%, 11%, and 7%, respectively. In contrast, the potential for some activities, such as locally grown organic food, is limited. The service provided by these initiatives only reduces the carbon footprint by 0.1%. Overall, although the proliferation of CBIs is very desirable from a climate change mitigation perspective it is necessary to stress that bottom-up initiatives present other important positive dimensions besides GHG mitigation. These initiatives also hold the potential of improving community resilience by strengthening local economies and enhancing social cohesion.
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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Climate change mitigation potential of community-based
initiatives in Europe
David M. Landholm
1
&Anne Holsten
1
&Federico Martellozzo
2
&Dominik E. Reusser
1
&Jürgen P. Kropp
1,3
Received: 1 August 2017 /Accepted: 9 October 2018 /Published online: 25 October 2018
#Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018
Abstract
There is a growing recognition that a transition toa sustainable low-carbon society isurgently needed. This transitiontakes place
at multiple and complementary scales, including bottom-up approaches such as community-based initiatives (CBIs). However,
empirical research on CBIs has focused until now on anecdotal evidence and little work has been done to quantitatively assess
their impact in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In this paper, we analyze 38 European initiatives across the food,
energy, transport, and waste sectors to address the following questions: How can the GHG reduction potential of CBIs be
quantified and analyzed in a systematic manner across different sectors? What is the GHG mitigation potential of CBIs and
how does the reduction potential differ across domains? Through the comparison of the emission intensity arising from the goods
and services the CBIs provide in relation to a business-as-usual scenario, we present the potential they have across different
activities. This constitutes the foundational step to upscaling and further understanding their potential contribution to achieving
climate change mitigation targets. Our findings indicate that energy generation through renewable sources, changes in personal
transportation, and dietary change present by far the highest GHG mitigation activities analyzed, since they reduce the carbon
footprint of CBI beneficiaries by 24%, 11%, and 7%, respectively. In contrast, the potential for some activities, such as locally
grown organic food, is limited. The service provided by these initiatives only reduces the carbon footprint by 0.1%. Overall,
although the proliferation of CBIs is very desirable from a climate change mitigation perspective it is necessary to stress that
bottom-up initiatives present other important positive dimensions besides GHG mitigation. These initiatives also hold the
potential of improving community resilience by strengthening local economies and enhancing social cohesion.
Keywords Greenhousegas emissions .Sustainabilitytransitions .Grassrootsinitiatives .Carbonfootprint .Sustainablelifestyles .
Low carbon economy
Introduction
The impacts of human-induced climate change are growing
with unprecedented rates of observed changes across continents
and oceans in the last decades (IPCC 2014). Mitigating climate
change and its associated risks is technically feasible with so-
lutions that allow for continued economic and human develop-
ment (World Bank 2012). However, limiting temperature to
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article
(https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-018-1428-1) contains supplementary
material, which is available to authorized users.
*David M. Landholm
landholm@pik-potsdam.de
Anne Holsten
holsten@pik-potsdam.de
Federico Martellozzo
federico.martellozzo@unifi.it
Dominik E. Reusser
domi_reusser@gmx.net
Jürgen P. Kropp
kropp@pik-potsdam.de
1
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Leibniz
Association, Potsdam, Germany
2
Department of Economics and Management, University of Florence,
Florence, Italy
3
Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Potsdam,
Potsdam, Germany
Regional Environmental Change (2019) 19:927938
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-018-1428-1
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
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