Grassroots organisations and the transition to net zero

A research project for the Energy Consumers Commission, April 2022


Meeting Scotland’s net zero targets requires supporting and empowering consumers and communities to participate in the transition to net zero.

Local, grassroots organisations are important conduits for increasing consumer awareness and action, and in driving the transition to net zero.

The research aimed to understand the readiness of frontline advisors for empowering consumers in Scotland to engage in the transition to net zero.

By engaging with key local stakeholders, we identified existing limitations to service provision and discussed the preferred solutions to best support consumers on their journey through decarbonisation.

The full report can be read below.

Key findings

  • Motivation to decarbonise – there was an appetite for decarbonisation at community scale, though less so at household level. Communities must be more empowered to help deliver net zero projects, with the support of grassroots advice organisations. This will help encourage action by individuals.
  • Knowledge – frontline advisors indicated they were the least confident when discussing smart energy systems and they would benefit from further training on topics such as flexible tariffs, domestic energy generation and storage and controls for low-carbon heating. Mechanisms should be put into place to encourage cross-sectoral working with supply chains, installers and technical professionals, tapping into the existing knowledge base.
  • Funding – funding support for grassroots organisations should be less restrictive in terms of criteria and timescales. There are also calls for funding to be consolidated and easier to access, reducing the work burden on organisations and allowing smaller groups (without the resource for dedicated development staff) to access vital funding.
  • Staffing – short funding contracts have directly contributed to existing shortfalls in staffing. More resource is needed for staff and volunteers for existing services, as well as funding for new posts, such as development officers and local community energy workers.
  • Policies and strategies – the majority of organisations had “some knowledge” of key policies and strategies. However, they felt that these are of little direct relevance to their work and that there is a disconnect between policy and action on the ground. There were calls for increased input at the local level within national policy and strategy development. It was noted that Local Energy Plans (LEPs) will be an important tool to help to deliver a just transition.
  • Rural and urban differences – there were specific differences in the challenges faced between rural and urban focussed services, however the main challenges were funding, staffing and aftercare and these were felt broadly across organisations throughout Scotland.


Achievement of Scotland’s 2045 net zero target will require widescale participation and collaboration from all sectors. Engaging the domestic sector and ensuring a just transition to net zero will be vital in reaching this target.

It has been suggested that grassroots organisations will be pivotal for engaging householders and communities, acting as trusted intermediaries on their route to decarbonisation.

The primary objective of this research was to gain a first-hand understanding of what support was needed by grassroots organisations in order to effectively empower householders to take action in the journey to net zero.

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