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What is a Climate Cafe? I hear this question quite often, and perhaps the answer is not always straight forward. It’s not a place where you simply get your latte or espresso. And not a building offering refreshment with a full green energy package installed. Although the latter could be an ideal spot for a meeting where you talk about climate change.

I will try to share my three-years of experience of “organising” a climate café in my home town, Kinross. It started back in spring 2021 at a local farmer’s market with a small stall serving tea and biscuits, and a number of posters picturing the climate crisis. Maybe it was a pandemic effect, but there was considerable interest – people coming up raising questions of cycling safety, problems with plastic waste and asking about green energy advice. On that day I got over forty people interested in staying in touch and continuing the conversation, which lead to forming a climate café group.

Soon after I went online and realised there was already a network of Climate Cafes® in Scotland led by Jess Pepper. She was very forthcoming with help and advice, together with Carol from Pitlochry Climate Café. Our first meeting was led by Jess Pepper, Climate Reality Leader, who presented the Climate Reality Talk about the dire state of climate change and how it would affect us all. Although very depressing, it was a necessary start point for our group, who did not want to hide their heads in sand.

We followed this with monthly meetings, each with a different focus – reducing waste (PKC Waste Officer presentation), active travel (a panel meeting with Councillors and cycling community), energy focus talks (Solar project – Linlith-Go-Solar, community talk with CATCH Loch Leven, presentation by an energy advisor from The Heat Project), climate justice and Fairtrade etc. This list goes on. I found that having a focus each month ensures a higher engagement, gives people an opportunity to learn about existing initiatives/services and provides inspiration. After meetings I had individual members contacting me with suggested action they would like to take and needed help with, like writing to the local supermarket to facilitate recycling soft plastics, (this was not possible in PKC prior to last summer). After three years there is a core member group that steers the climate café meetings and we have now been working on a repair café, which started this April.

The above model is something that worked in our community, but every place has different needs and challenges. Small village communities are faced with different challenges of perhaps smaller funds but have the advantage of more community spirit. While larger towns and cities with more funding resources will have a great diversity of groups and perhaps a greater challenge to initiate a new one. Climate cafés, which emerge as grass-roots voluntary initiatives in Scotland are very diverse. It is the best thing about climate cafes – we are all different and can learn from that by inspiring and supporting each other. They can be started anywhere really, in a local community hall, in a library, at workplace or at school. If anyone feels there is a need for such a group locally, there is an online resource with lots of examples, contacts and stories – https://www.climate.cafe/.

Kinross-shire Climate Café – https://www.facebook.com/kleo.org.uk

Gosia Stanton, Fife Climate Hub, Community Development Officer.

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Organisation Address
Cover Resource Name Description Download
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
Organisation URL
Scottish Communities Climate Action Network (SCCAN) sccan.scot
Energy Saving Trust energysavingtrust.org.uk
Home Energy Scotland homeenergyscotland.org
Hubbub hubbub.org.uk
Climate Action Fife climateactionfife.org.uk
Greener Kirkcaldy greenerkirkcaldy.org.uk
Circular Communities Scotland circularcommunities.scot
Adaptation Scotland adaptationscotland.org.uk
Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland weallscotland.org
Zero Waste Scotland zerowastescotland.org.uk
Keep Scotland Beautiful keepscotlandbeautiful.org
Climate Outreach climateoutreach.org
Carbon Literacy Project carbonliteracy.com
Transition University of St Andrews transitionsta.org
Nescan nescan.org
Highlands and Islands Climate Hub hiclimatehub.co.uk
Fife Coast and Countryside trust fifecoastandcountrysidetrust.co.uk
Possible wearepossible.org
Greenspace Scotland greenspacescotland.org.uk
Development Trust Association Scotland DTAS dtascot.org.uk
Community Land Scotland communitylandscotland.org.uk
Carbon Almanac thecarbonalmanac.org/subscribe
Talking climate talkingclimatenewsletter.substack.com
TCV tcv.org.uk/scotland/signup-for-our-newsletter
Organisations & Resources

Organisations that may help you on your journey:

ORGANISATION MEMBERSHIP PAGE BENEFITS
Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) https://scvo.scot/membership 30% off training, member-only networks (policy and comms), Funding Scotland premium access, members email bulletin, priority access for events, etc
Circular Communities Scotland https://www.circularcommunities.scot/join/ Funding advice, member events, policy updates, representation in network
Energy Action Scotland https://eas.org.uk/ Two discounted training course places per year - City and Guilds Energy Awareness Training
SURF: Scotland's Regeneration Forum https://www.surf.scot/about-us/membership/ Networking, contribute to policy consultations, free SURF Conference, priority access to events, access to policy journal and reports
Nourish Scotland https://www.nourishscotland.org/join-us/ Welcome pack including printed Food Atlas, part of a network, discounts / free entry at events, members Facebook group
Social Farms and Gardens https://www.farmgarden.org.uk/join-us Monthly online member meets, discounted training, access to grants and bursaries, advice from staff, newsletters, representation and policy influencing
Cycling Scotland https://www.cycling.scot/about-us/who-we-are/list/members Access to cycle training, support guidance and funding from Transport Scotland
Learning for Sustainability Scotland https://learningforsustainabilityscotland.org/about-us/#members 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) https://dtascot.org.uk/benefits/network 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 https://communityenergyscotland.org.uk/membership/ 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) https://sccan.scot/join/ 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 - gov.scot 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 sccan.scot 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. https://www.carbonbrief.org/ nan
Climate Outreach. Explore their website. They have a range of tools for engaging the public on climate change. https://climateoutreach.org/reports/how-to-have-a-climate-change-conversation-talking-climate/ nan
The Place Standard tool provides a simple framework to structure conversations about place, based around 14 questions.  https://www.ourplace.scot/About-Place-Standard nan
Community Map Scotland is a software project to help your community build a Local Place Plan. https://www.parish-online.co.uk/services/community-map-scotland 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. https://www.ismtool.org/ 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! 

Sean Flinn

Where you have come from before:

I have worked and volunteered in science communication since my undergraduate and have formal qualifications as both a youth worker and science teacher. I have a background in marine conservation and have briefly worked in conservation research. Previously I ran a project working with young people on the topics of climate change and the biodiversity crisis. I have used my experience to help upskill other educators based on the lessons I have learned. 

One small change you would make to make the world a greener, fairer place:  

Is to question everything you read or hear especially online! There is a lot of information out there and it can be overwhelming; especially when much of it is intentionally misleading!

GilIian Napier

Where you have come from before: Worked with my partner in his print business, doing everything except put ink on paper! I have also worked for the National Child-minding Association and the various Local Authorities in England. 

One small change: Ask everyone to celebrate their small wins whether it be buying second hand clothing to planting a patio tree on your balcony.  It all helps.

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.