The Young Geographer: The Future We Want

This special issue of The Young Geographer magazine explores the hopes for the future.  A few highlights for me:

“Everyday we are one step closer to achieving equality for all and it will hopefully happen in our lifetime.”  Zoe Mainus, 14

Elizabeth Dirth, chair of the 2050 Climate Group, writes about why we don’t need better climate policies:

“We do not need better climate policies or more climate action; we need better energy, finance and investment, waste, agriculture, transport, health, planning and education policies.”

“A climate change policy-action gap implies the gap between climate change policy and action is the problem, but actually it is the gap between climate policy and all other areas of policy and action that is the problem.”

Please do have a good read through this treasure trove of insights.

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Values and Travel

Abstract from recent research by Milena Buchs:   “….has shown that holiday air travel constitutes a typical value-action gap as many people continue to fly despite their concerns about climate change. However, some people do voluntarily reduce their holiday flights. Little is known so far about the role that values play in this decision. This paper examines this question based on semi-structured interviews with participants in local climate change and energy-saving projects. It finds that people who voluntarily reduce their holiday air travel are more ready than those who continue to fly to accept that their behaviour makes a contribution to climate change; that they feel a moral imperative to act regardless of its effectiveness in mitigating climate change; and that they distance themselves from socially dominant norms related to holiday air travel. This paper argues that these characteristics are connected to values of self-transcendence and self-direction, and that in this way values remain important for understanding and supporting low carbon behaviour.” See the full paper here

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A new Climate Change Plan for Scotland

In 2016 we facilitated a series of ten conversations about climate change on behalf of the Scottish Government. The results, drawn from these and other Climate Conversations, are summarised in the draft Climate Change Plan laid in the Scottish Parliament on 19th January 2017.

The key findings are:

Climate Conversations work as a way to engage with the general public on climate change, and participants enjoyed the conversations.

Knowledge of climate change:

  • People are generally aware of climate change as both an issue and a problem and were aware that action is necessary to tackle it. There was some confusion between concepts and some factual inaccuracy in the conversations, however many of the participants appeared reasonably well informed.
  • Participants want to act on climate change but want more information on climate change, the impacts of climate change and the actions they can take.
  • Participants felt they were already taking some action on climatechange.

Continue reading

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‘It helped me sort of face the end of the world’ the role of emotions in change initiatives

Research into community initiatives, including Carbon Conversations, by Southampton University, Milena Buchs, Emma Hinton, and Graham Smith, has been published in Environmental Values under the title

‘It helped me sort of face the end of the world’  the role of emotions for third sector climate change engagement initiatives


This paper examines the role that attention to emotions around climate change can play for third sector climate change engagement initiatives, an area to which the literature on such initiatives has paid little attention. It focuses on Carbon Conversations, a programme that explicitly acknowledges the role of difficult emotions and underlying values in people’s engagement with climate change. While there are limitations to this approach, results show that it can help certain audiences engage more deeply with issues around climate change and carbon reduction. Important lessons can be drawn for other initiatives that aim to engage the public on climate change.

The report itself can be seen on our Carbon Conversations website here.

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Weekend Retreat – Roots of Resilience


Nomadic wisdom for our changing times

with  Alan Heeks and Cordelia Prescott

Allanton Peace Sanctuary, near Dumfries, Friday 18th – Sunday 20th September 2015

Resilience is one of the topics we at Surefoot are looking into more deeply.  This promises to be a restorative and transformative weekend, led by two people well versed in this area.  Please see the flier  spiritual roots of resilience  for more information.

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Values-Based Change

Values are our guiding principles, our broadest motivations, influencing the attitudes we hold and how we act.

Research from Common Cause shows that to promote justice, peace and sustainability, appealing to people’s care and concern for others is a better strategy than appealing to their self interest.

Putting this into practice requires attention to how we design and communicate projects and how we engage with the people and groups we work with.

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Carbon Conversations Facilitator Training

The new Carbon Conversations materials have created a flurry of interest across the UK.

We usually run up to six facilitator trainings a year, this year so far we have already run four, in St. Andrews, Brighton, Edinburgh and Oxford.

These training courses for facilitators are held for people who wish to begin their own Carbon Conversations groups as Volunteer Facilitators.

Course participants find their current facilitation skills are enhanced by this course, and everyone finds an increased ability to speak to others about the difficult topics around climate change.

If you are interested in Carbon Conversations Facilitator Training, please subscribe to our newsletter to receive details of upcoming courses.

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The Ecologist reviews ‘In Time For Tomorrow?’

Despite the urgency of climate change, most people close their eyes, turn away, and hope someone else will sort it out. It’s not that we’re bored, writes psychotherapist Rosemary Randall – we’re more likely to be fearful, anxious or embarrassed. So how can we help people to feel less scared, and see that we are all are part of the solution? Read the full article on The Ecologist website.

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Climate Change Question Time

In a bid to generate a new dialogue that sparks enduring change, the RSA is embarking on a series of climate change events with a difference.

For the second event in the brand-new series, the RSA adopted a ‘Question Time’ format, gathering expert representatives in each of what we feel are the seven main dimensions of the climate problem: science, behaviour, democracy, law, technology, economy and culture.

Rosemary Randall, founder of Carbon Conversations and co author of ‘In Time For Tomorrow?’ spoke at the event in February.

Other panellists included: economist Lord Nicholas Stern; climate scientist, UCL, Chris Rapley CBE; Green Party member of the London Assembly, Baroness Jenny Jones; Co-founder, Futerra, Solitaire Townsend and green-energy entrepreneur and founder of Solarcentury, Jeremy Leggett.

The event was recorded and you can watch it on the RSA website.

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United Nations Award

UN award  The Surefoot Effect are delighted to have been part of the team who created and delivered an award winning Action Learning Programme:  Communities with a Common Cause.

The United Nations University gave the programme an award as an Outstanding Flagship Project in Advancing Sustainability in November.  The programme ran over 6 months and involved 2 people from each of 8 organisations, all seeking to embody the values their organisation espouse in all of their actions, internally and externally.


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