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Celebrating Community Climate Action: Recap of the Fife Climate Hub’s Annual Gathering

After months of anticipation, we felt Fife Climate Hub’s first annual gathering at the Fife Renewables Centre was a resounding success, with around 55 enthusiastic individuals coming together to celebrate a year of remarkable achievements and community-driven climate action. As we reflected on our journey since June 2023, when we embarked on this endeavour with the support of Scottish Government funding from the Climate Action Hub Fund, we are filled with gratitude for the incredible momentum and collaboration that has propelled us forward.

Our journey thus far has been nothing short of inspiring. The enthusiasm and dedication of our community groups have been instrumental in driving meaningful change, empowering each other to do more than ever before.

The event was a vibrant tapestry of shared experiences, innovative ideas, and renewed commitment to climate action. People from groups such as Glenrothes YMCA, Sustainable Cupar, Curnie Clubs Network, Saline Environment Group and staff from NHS Fife who are working on their Greenspace Strategy and staff from the Climate Change & Zero Waste Team at Fife Counci had the opportunity to engage with like-minded individuals and explore the diverse range of climate initiatives being undertaken in their communities. From browsing the stalls of local groups to participating in thought-provoking discussions, there was no shortage of inspiration to be found.

At the heart of the gathering was a desire to celebrate the extraordinary efforts of these community groups and to showcase the collective impact of our work over the past nine months.

Climate Hub Manager, Craig Leitch, extended our heartfelt thanks to our members, stakeholders, including Fife Council, Climate Action Fife, and the board of directors and steering advisory group, whose unwavering support has been invaluable and looked to the future for Fife Climate Hub in 2024/25 when we plan to build on what we have started. With a new tranche of funding, another Fife Climate Festival and a paid peer-to-peer support scheme.

A highlight of the gathering was the keynote presentation by Jess Pepper, Founder of Climate Café® CIC and the Climate Cafe Hub. With over two decades of experience in climate communications and advocacy, Jess’s insights offered a compelling vision of community-led inspiration and change in action. Her address served as a reminder of the transformative power that lies within grassroots efforts and the urgency of collective action in addressing the climate crisis.

Jess explained how, following a career in environmentalism in which she was involved in forming the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, working with WWF Scotland and Stop Climate Chaos, she began a family and moved to a family home in rural Perthshire.  While listening to the radio in her kitchen a casual discussion about the increase in CO2 galvanised her to take action in a new way but how?  She realised that in her village people were not talking about climate change  so how could she get people in rural Scotland interested?  She came across and ended up getting accepted to former US President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in the US.  

On her return home Jess was able to chat more confidently with all types of people about the climate crisis. Others listened and joined her, and they soon realised they needed a space to chat. As a result, and through Jess’s leadership, in 2015 the Climate Café Network emerged. It is now a global movement with Climate Cafes being held in every continent, except Antarctica. There is one in Dundee and Jess invites Fifers to get on board. Find out more on the Climate Cafe website,   “Once people connect the magic spark happens,” said Jess who went on to list a diverse range of projects that came to fruition thanks to  a chat at a Climate Café  including a re-makery, a repair café, waste reduction initiatives,  food shares, pickling workshops, film showings and a discussion about air source heat pumps in Kinross that led to an energy project which ended up in the involvement of 3,000 households, three new jobs and £70,000 worth of debt being cleared! In fact, she said, one of the two pathfinder Climate Hubs was sparked at a Climate Café event!   

Following Jess’s keynote, a panel discussion chaired by Alistair Macleod, FCCAN Board Director and Project Manager at Transition University St Andrews, provided further depth and perspective on the challenges and opportunities ahead. The panel, featuring esteemed speakers such as Cllr Jan Wincott, Spokesperson for Environment and Climate Change, Fife Council;  Dr. Crispin Hayes,  FCCAN Board Director & Eco-consultant;  Beth Mukushi , Head of Support Services at SCVO and lead on their Growing Climate Confidence work; Lauren Brooke CEO of Greener Kirkcaldy and Sandy Winterbottom of Women’s Climate Action offered valuable insights into how well are we doing in Fife in tackling the climate and biodiversity crisis. Councillor Wincott said it was important to listen to what matters to Fifers, but revealed that she does not get asked in her Councillor surgeries about climate change. Dr Crispin Hayes said: “At the moment it’s just a minority trying to turn around the juggernaut of ‘business as usual’. It’s slow progress,” he said. Lauren Brooke provided some hope saying that  Fife was doing ‘comparatively brilliantly’. She pointed out how so many groups were taking action in Fife and with such vibrant ideas with  and how even large organisation like Fife Council and NHS Fife were getting board. Sandy Winterbottom said 2024 was a pivotal year. She said the weather was drawing people’s attention to the climate crisis for us.  To make a change though we need 25% of the population on board to reach a tipping point in ideas change she said.

Beth Mukushi was also hopeful. She said she was pleased to hear how much further ahead Fife Climate Hub was than the other hubs across Scotland and took that as a good sign for Fife. Beth highlighted the need to get better at ‘pushing the positive outcomes’ of tackling the climate crisis, such as cleaner air and money saving.  The discussion ended with a call for us all to ask our politicians to back the Climate and Ecology Bill. We will need 25% to reach that tipping point!   

Throughout the day, the marketplace buzzed with energy as attendees explored the various climate action activities and projects showcased by our members. The Big Green Market stall from Burntisland was popular giving people a taster of what to expect at their regular events.

The event was a testament to the creativity, passion, and dedication of our community in fostering a more sustainable future for all. Feedback forms are now trickling in and my favourite comment so far is: “This was possibly my favourite networking conference I have been to for connecting with people who we can really collaborate with and make a real difference with.”

As we look to the future, we invite everyone to join us in our ongoing efforts to make a difference. Whether through sharing our successes, collaborating on new projects, or simply spreading the word, together, we can amplify the impact of community-led climate action in Fife and beyond.

We extend our gratitude to all who attended our annual gathering and invite those who couldn’t make it to join us in the journey ahead. Together, let’s continue to inspire, innovate, and advocate for a greener, more sustainable Fife.

To learn more about future FCCAN/Fife Climate Hub plans for 2024/2025 and stay updated on upcoming events, please join our newsletter and follow us on social media.

Thank you for being part of this incredible journey so far. Roll on 2024/25

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Climate Conversation Guide Cover Climate Conversation Guide A comprehensive guide to engaging in meaningful climate conversations. Download PDF
Talking Climate Handbook Cover Talking Climate Handbook Strategies for everyday climate change discussions. Download PDF
Community Climate Action Toolkit Cover Community Climate Action Toolkit Tools and tips for community-led climate initiatives. Download PDF
Reduce Waste Guide Cover How to… help your community to reduce waste Guidance on waste reduction for communities. Download PDF
Shifting Normal Guide Cover Shifting Normal full guide Insights into driving change for normalising sustainable practices. Download PDF
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Scottish Communities Climate Action Network (SCCAN)
Energy Saving Trust
Home Energy Scotland
Climate Action Fife
Greener Kirkcaldy
Circular Communities Scotland
Adaptation Scotland
Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland
Zero Waste Scotland
Keep Scotland Beautiful
Climate Outreach
Carbon Literacy Project
Transition University of St Andrews
Highlands and Islands Climate Hub
Fife Coast and Countryside trust
Greenspace Scotland
Development Trust Association Scotland DTAS
Community Land Scotland
Carbon Almanac
Talking climate
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Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) 30% off training, member-only networks (policy and comms), Funding Scotland premium access, members email bulletin, priority access for events, etc
Circular Communities Scotland Funding advice, member events, policy updates, representation in network
Energy Action Scotland Two discounted training course places per year - City and Guilds Energy Awareness Training
SURF: Scotland's Regeneration Forum Networking, contribute to policy consultations, free SURF Conference, priority access to events, access to policy journal and reports
Nourish Scotland Welcome pack including printed Food Atlas, part of a network, discounts / free entry at events, members Facebook group
Social Farms and Gardens Monthly online member meets, discounted training, access to grants and bursaries, advice from staff, newsletters, representation and policy influencing
Cycling Scotland Access to cycle training, support guidance and funding from Transport Scotland
Learning for Sustainability Scotland Take part in action groups, attend and vote at AGMs, networking events and seminars, access resources, advice, consultations and policy documents
Development Trust Association Scotland (DTAS) Annual conference, e-bulletin, networking events, Community Learning Exchange Fund, resources and tools, strategic planning support, trustee training, policy and funding updates, representation through a strong voice
Community Energy Scotland Members bulletins, partnership working and capacity building, representation at government level, members directory, events, free advertising for volunteer opportunities
Scottish Communities Climate Action Network (SCCAN) Networking, communications, training and events, showcased in members map and directory, peer to peer networking, access to funding (e.g. Community Learning Exchange)
This guide is designed to help community groups tackling climate change maximise their success by taking account of how change happens when planning, carrying out and reviewing their activities. Shifting normal - designing projects to tackle climate change: full guide - nan
Community Climate Action Toolkit. Easy-to-use tools and resources, to develop your group understand your local situation, to move into meaningful action. Community Climate Action Toolkit | The Schumacher Institute nan
Pair of reports looking at barriers to walking and wheeling in Scotland. Common issues better-streets-key-issues.pdf nan
Place Standard Tool (PST), designed for considering a joined up, collaborative, and participative approach to climate action within a place. Place Standard with a Climate Lens | Sniffer nan
VOiCE is planning and recording software that assists individuals, organisations and partnerships to design and deliver effective community engagement. VOiCE nan
Adaptation Routemap is valuable for anyone who would like to Understand and address climate change impacts within your community now and in the future. Adaptation Scotland :: Community Climate Adaptation Routemap nan
52 Climate Actions. 52 of the most effective climate actions that can be taken by individuals and communities in the GlobalNorth. One for each week of the year. Actions | 52 Climate Actions nan
A simple guide to talking about climate change by Australian organisation Climate4Change. Climate Conversation guide.pdf - Google Drive nan
Impact is an estimator of a community’s carbon footprint that works for parishes wards, district councils and unitary authorities. Impact | Community carbon calculator nan
Stats and infographics explaining the urgency of change and how every degree counts 8 Things You Need to Know About the IPCC 1.5ËšC Report | World Resources Institute nan
Fife Benefits. Matching communities and good causes with businesses and procurement staff Fife Benefits - Procurement Support nan
Plastic Free Dunfermline’s guide on zero waste events. Plastic Free Event Guide - Plastic-Free Dunfermline nan
SCCAN offers groups a free fully fledged website hosted under the domain SCCAN spaces – get webspace free nan
Greenspace Scotland. A wide range of resources including guidance, research, statistics and funding sources. Resources | Greenspace Scotland nan
The PECH structure. A useful way to build team cohesion and direction by finding commonalities and ironing out differences at the outset. CEC Visioning PECH doc - Google Docs nan
SP=EED. Planning Aid Scotland’s’ guide and toolkit to more effective community engagement in the planning system. And offers help with Place Plans Resources - PAS nan
nan Community-led Plans - PAS nan
Growing Climate Confidence. Help to reduce emissions and engage their community. Their Scorecard will assess your progress to net zero. Growing Climate Confidence nan
Carbon Brief covers the latest developments in climate science, climate policy and energy policy. nan
Climate Outreach. Explore their website. They have a range of tools for engaging the public on climate change. nan
The Place Standard tool provides a simple framework to structure conversations about place, based around 14 questions. nan
Community Map Scotland is a software project to help your community build a Local Place Plan. nan
ISM a multidisciplinary behaviour tool for designing effective policy interventions, originally developed in the context of sustainability challenges. Created by Andrew Darnton with colleagues at the University of Manchester, and launched by the Scottish Government in 2013. nan

Where you have come from before: Before joining the Fife Climate Hub team I had two jobs I was the Sustainable Transport Officer for Transition University St Andrews and I worked as a Communications Advisor for Fife Council

I am a passionate communicator with a big interest in climate and biodiversity. I began this journey when I was asked to cover the GM Crop Trials in the Highlands as a young reporter for the Press & Journal. I realised that I wanted to be part of the solution and not on the sidelines reporting it.  

One small change I would recommend getting the train for your next holiday. It’s a fantastic adventure and once you get out of the UK the trains are much more relaxed and you feel on holiday straight away. On the Eurostar on to Paris even the toasties are served with a plate, a napkin and a French accent! 

Where you have come from before: Before joining the Fife Climate Hub team I worked within corporate learning and development. This is my first foray into the third sector!

Within my last role I designed and delivered learning interventions, many of which was in the area of sustainability. I have also in the past worked in communications and change management. In the last year I was a climate champion with Greener Kirkcaldy where I met many of the new people I now engage with on a regular basis.

One small change that I keep trying to make and would encourage others to make for a lower carbon Fife, is to think both big and small! The small changes (all the Rs!) add up, whether that be refusing to buy non-recyclable products, always remembering to take my reusable mug or water bottle everywhere, or repurposing that wooden pallet to build a flower bed – it all adds up towards reducing our carbon footprint.

Where you have come from before: I’ve always worked in the voluntary sector, most recently on a freelance basis supporting charities with their digital content and online accessibility. Before that I worked at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and the Multiple Sclerosis Trust.

My professional background is in digital communications and data reporting. I’m also a Board Member on the Kingsbarns Community Development Trust and help to run our school and community garden in the village.

One small change is to get growing. Whether it’s looking after a few herbs in pots on your windowsill or getting involved in one of the many brilliant community gardens we have here in Fife, growing your own fruit and veg reduces food miles, pesticides and plastics and saves you money too. Plus, homegrown definitely does taste better!

Where you have come from before: Before joining the Fife Climate Hub

Craig Leitch Fife Climate Hub Manager
Craig Leitch Fife Climate Hub Manager

team I worked for Greener Kirkcaldy and on the Climate Action Fife Project. My role was to deliver climate literacy training and inspire climate action. I also supported FCCAN as their secretariat.

My background is in wildlife conservation where I mainly worked to share the joys of nature with people as a ranger, leading guided walks and as education officer.  

One small change is to talk to people about climate change. Share your worries and celebrate your positive actions. You really do have power to influence those around you.  

Alternatively: buy (and sell)  second hand. There are so many apps out there now to help with this. This means fewer emissions, fewer things going to landfill and it saves you money.