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Getting to rural net zero

  • by JW

“There are numerous considerations to tackle… we must identify swift solutions… recognising that the pace will naturally accelerate as these become more commonplace.” [Kerry Booth, Chief Executive, Rural Services Network]


There have been several studies on how to get to “Rural Net Zero“, for example, how local authorities can push this agenda. But maybe we can be even more ambitious and ask: How can rural communities lead the transition to net zero?

The recent post from the Rural Services Network – Uniting for a Sustainable Future: Insights from RSN’s Rural Net Zero Seminar is such a good that we’re reposting most of it here:


Our Rural Net Zero seminar held last week was the first in our popular seminar programme for 2024!

It focused on methods and initiatives aimed at attaining carbon neutrality in rural regions. The seminar spotlighted key topics such as Cornwall Council’s journey to carbon neutrality, the adaptation of Climathon methodology in rural settings, and tactics for reducing carbon emissions in rural residences. Presentations by Nick Hayden, Prof. Damian Maye, Dr. Aimee Morse, and Helen Ball offered valuable perspectives on present strategies and future approaches for fostering sustainability and environmental responsibility in rural communities.

Cornwall Council’s Blueprint for Carbon Neutrality

Nick Hayden from Cornwall Council presented a multifaceted strategy aimed at making Cornwall a net-zero region. Highlighting the role of community in these initiatives, Nick Hayden remarked, Climathons focus on idea development and solution development… It’s about bringing together communities… a space for dialogue for rural communities.” He also emphasised the project’s long-term vision, stating, “The outcomes that we wanted to achieve from this project was to try to implement or consider how we move on from this pilot project and start to implement this work into business-as-usual activities.”

Rural Climathons: A Co-Design Approach

Professor Damian Maye and Dr. Aimee Morse from the Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI) introduced Climathon, a cutting-edge, participatory approach tailored for rural settings. This methodology encourages local engagement and harnesses local expertise to craft tailored climate solutions. From agri-food systems to broader rural applications, their work underscores the potential of collective, informed action.

Redefining Rural Housing: A Journey towards Decarbonisation

Helen Ball of Broadacres Housing Association shed light on the transformative journey towards decarbonising rural homes. She underscored the centrality of customer involvement and the need for a cultural shift within organisations, stating, “Our carbon literacy training is a key part of this… this is a really key part of the work that we’re doing on retrofit.” Helen Ball also highlighted the focus on energy efficiency, noting, “We know that the vast majority of our carbon emissions come from our customers’ homes… hence we have a big emphasis on retrofits and improving the energy efficiency of our existing homes.”

The seminar echoed a compelling call for prompt action and highlighted the critical role of solutions born from community collaboration. Kerry Booth, Chief Executive, Rural Services Network captured the essence perfectly, asserting, “There are numerous considerations to tackle… we must identify swift solutions… recognising that the pace will naturally accelerate as these become more commonplace.”

Reflecting upon the profound insights and stirring conversations from the Rural Net Zero seminar, it becomes evident that achieving net-zero is more than a mere target: it’s a collective, dynamic journey. Each progressive step, innovative idea, and community’s dedication contributes significantly to the mosaic of a sustainable, robust future.