Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

UNderstanding LOcal and Community Governance of Energy (UNLOC)


The UK commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% by 2050 will require a systemic change in the way energy is converted and used.

Although most emphasis has been placed on actors who operate at national level (e.g. power generators and large businesses), there is a growing recognition that action at the local and community levels will be needed for climate mitigation and to embed resilience in the energy system (DECC,2009).

The UNLOC project aims to develop a robust understanding of evolving patterns of energy governance at the local and community levels.

It will demonstrate how grassroots (non-governmental, non-professional groups) organisations, local government initiatives and national-scale activities interact to create new political opportunities for active citizen engagement in both energy demand reduction and deployment of local energy generation.

Aims and Objectives

  • To develop an improved understanding of the governance and institutional changes needed to provide a supportive framework for local actors to play a key role in the change to a low carbon society.
  • To provide an assessment of the role of local government and its future direction in the context of the governmentÂ’s low carbon transition plan, and synthesise relevant lessons from best practice and past experience in local energy initiatives.
  • To explore the evolving nature of the relationship between state (including local government) and nonstate actors and examine the potential for reciprocal learning and shared operational benefits.
  • To examine the role of local finance and institutional opportunities in supporting local non-state initiatives as an important instrument to influencing local energy governance.

The UNLOC project sits within UKERC’s Energy Demand theme and is led by researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Surrey.

Project details