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Main photo supplied by Climate UK

Tooling up for a Just Climate

A new mapping tool for analysing climate impacts, flood risk and fuel poverty has been showcased in a series of workshops including one here in Manchester in December. Developed through a collaboration between the North West Climate Change Partnership, Climate UK, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Environment Agency, the new mapping tool aims to be a powerful tool for local authorities and practitioners.

The Climate Just tool takes the form of mapping software that identifies areas at risk from flooding or fuel poverty. With many intricate and detailed levels that can be applied to the maps, the tool provides material for detailed analysis and research. It is hoped that it will be able to help address some of the issues surrounding social vulnerability to climate change, and climate justice more broadly.

Taking place in the Victorian surroundings of the Mechanics Institute in central Manchester, the initial half-day workshop served to identify many of the issues that are present in themes of climate justice. With a format revolving around a series of talks, roundtable style discussions, and testing of the Climate Just tool, the event encouraged debate and dialogue between invested parties on the concept of climate justice.

First up on the agenda was a warm welcome speech by Dan Griffiths of Climate UK, allowing for the introduction of the guest speakers, and taking attendees through the format for the session.

Following the introduction, the audience was presented with the first talk of the afternoon, by Katharine Knox of the Joseph Roundtree Foundation (JRF) on the topic of the climate justice agenda, and the aims of the new Climate Just tool.

Detailing the inequalities that too often accompany climate change, the talk focussed upon the uneven distribution of climate impacts, with vulnerable individuals at much higher exposure than other populations. Through the use of engaging infographics, Knox identified how high income households hold the highest carbon emission levels, whilst being the least affected by climate change. The exact opposite was the case for low income households.

Knox’s engaging talk enabled the understanding of different manifestations of climate injustice, and its creation through; sensitivity, exposure, and adaptive capacity to climate change. This first talk identified a lack of evidence of the effectiveness of policies that have been introduced to tackle climate justice, and it was this, the talk argued, that makes the new Climate Just tool so relevant in the current political environment.

The second talk of the afternoon; “Using Climate Just: The local authority perspective” was presented by Kit England of the Core Cities group. Drawing on examples from his own experience in the Newcastle Local Authority, the talk, whilst lively and stimulating, managed to bring a relatable element to the series of talks. Bringing the concept of localism into the debate, England stressed the importance of action at the local scale through the expansion of Local Authority services, and the need for collaboration and collective action. England gave extensive examples of how Newcastle has managed to employ the Climate Just tool to their advantage, especially within areas of community resilience.

Taking a break from the talks, the workshop made time for a round of questions and audience opinions. Whilst a large proportion of the questions were varied in their focus, a large proportion focused upon the nature of the Climate Just tool itself. An audience consensus relayed the inability of the mapping tool to account for factors other than flooding, and heating and fuel poverty.

After the round of questions, it was time to return to the talks. The next talk was a more practical one, with Mike Peverill of Climate UK explaining the new Climate Just site and tool in greater detail. In brief, the new Climate Just site combines general information, resources, case studies, news, and a climate justice glossary. The site, along with the new mapping tool, allows for an in depth analysis of the levels of flood risk and fuel poverty, and many of the issues surrounding these areas.

Next it was time to test the tool. Working in small groups, the audience were given the best part of an hour to try out the mapping tool on laptops provided. Following the testing, the audience was invited to take part in ‘breakout’ discussion groups.
These ‘breakout’ groups served as a platform for discussions on the usefulness of the site, and what more can be done to improve the efficacy and relevance of the tool. After the smaller group discussions, questions were again opened to the floor, and general collected and posted onto large boards around the room.

The final talk of the afternoon was presented by Rachel Brisley of JBA Consulting on the implementation of the Climate Just tool in Wigan.  Brisley identified throughout the talk how Climate Just has aided JBA Consulting to identify particularly vulnerable communities. The tool has helped the consultancy to provide frameworks to improve the resilience of such communities, and to improve local governance infrastructure and policy. Central to the talk, Brisley continuously related back to the fact that climate change is increasingly becoming a moral rather than an environmental issue, and continually stressed that climate change policies need to be integrated into all sectors, not just the environmental sector.


Main photo supplied by Climate UK