World leaders have arrived in Glasgow to debate the way in which they can tackle climate change.

The COP26 summit aims to refocus attention on the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Convention on Climate Change. The decisions made here could lead to big changes to our everyday lives.

The agenda prioritises reaching agreement on global net-zero policies. Critical among them is the need to limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5 °c. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in August that there was less than two decades left to achieve this. Discussions will also focus on how to protect communities and natural habitats damaged by rising temperatures, as well as how to mobilise finance around this goal.

As a social investor, SASC has focused on energy generation since we launched in 2014. It is a critical utility and with the energy crisis so evident at the pumps this autumn, we have seen how little control the average consumer has on prices.

Our work has addressed two core beliefs:

  1. Renewable energy such as wind and solar are central planks in a net zero strategy
  2. Local communities should benefit from a decentralised energy market

To date, we have invested over £68m in renewable projects and funded projects of all sizes which emphasised community benefit. We have financed local community groups to buy or build a wind turbine. We have also part funded a major renewables build for a council that wanted to generate its own power.

What all these projects have had in common is that the profit is kept for the local community. This profit has funded local services, schools, food banks and voluntary schemes. Local people allocate the money because they are best placed to understand the need. Additionally, nearly every project addresses fuel poverty with initiatives helping with energy bills or giving grants to support networks.

Fuel poverty is a complex problem linked to broader issues of social inequality. It is also a killer. Age UK estimates that 25,000 older people die each year because of the cold weather[i].

Three key factors help to cause fuel poverty: low income, high fuel prices and the growing energy requirements of a household.  The government calculates an annual fuel poverty gap. By empowering a local area with a community fund, they can directly target those most in need.

The COP26 goal is for leaders to commit to their promise to spend trillions of dollars on climate change. The transition to clean energy will affect us all and it is our belief that for this to be a truly just transition, communities must play a role.

Through its funds, SASC continues to support local communities to take control of local energy generation. In 2022 we will be launching our next generation renewable fund that will again have community at its core. We remain committed to staying at the heart of funding for this crucial, clean and empowering sector.