Carbon Conversations: An Innovation History

February 2012, Tom Hargreaves.

Carbon Conversations is a community-based and community-led series of six facilitated meetings in which groups of 6-8 participants discuss the practical and emotional challenges of low-carbon living and design strategies to reduce their carbon footprints. Founded in Cambridge in 2006, Carbon Conversations groups have since spread across the UK, being run also in Oxford, Norwich, London and Scotland (including Edinburgh, Callendar, St. Andrews, Iona, Stirling, Argyll and the Highlands). In 2009 the Guardian Newspaper declared Carbon Conversations as one of the 20 ʻmost promisingʼ ideas for solving the climate crisis. This innovation history traces the development of Carbon Conversations from its earliest origins in Cambridge in 2005 (and before), through its replication in Norwich, to its current status (in December 2011) as one of the UKʼs best-known low-carbon ʻbehaviour changeʼ initiatives.
Carbon Conversations Innovation History


Community Energy Innovation Histories

CISE is conducting 12 in-depth case studies of community energy projects, to better understand how these innovations emerge, develop, spread and grow.

Each case study is written up as an ‘Innovation History’, allowing participants to explain their own individual stories, with researcher reflections and insights inserted into the text.

Ro Randall – founder of Carbon Conversations – stated how the innovation history approach, and conceiving of Carbon Conversations as an ‘innovation’, had made her think about things in a new way. She says:

“Reading your draft has helped me reflect on the relationship between innovation/innovators and the networks of people and support that give them space to innovate. Innovation often gets seen as having an ’author’, rather than being a group or network product and although I was pivotal, Andy’s role was absolutely key. I could have innovated my socks off but without his technical expertise – from knowledge of the science and technology, through to his ability to manage the finances and website – little would have happened. Beyond that there has been a much larger network of people who have contributed to the project and perhaps don’t get recognised as they should. Maybe there are inevitable tensions between innovative projects and the environments that nurture them. Good reflective practice can certainly be helped by having people from the outside taking a look – they see different things, offer other frameworks and that can be really useful.”

We hope you enjoy our Innovation Histories, we will make them available here throughout 2012 as they are completed.

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