AS more people wake up to the urgency of climate change, how can we evolve conversations beyond individual responsibility and focus instead on community engagement?

At last, the climate emergency is beginning to be discussed more widely, although throughout mainstream discussions one theme seems to be recurring – the focus on individual responsibility.

I’ve no doubt eyebrows were raised across the country when, at 35 minutes into the recent BBC Tory leadership debate, the climate issue was finally mentioned. However, the question disappointingly focused on the individual changes the potential prime ministers recommended to mitigate climate impact.

Hopefully I’m not alone in expecting the UK’s former chancellor to be doing a bit more for the climate than recycling. Maybe divesting his and his wife’s exorbitant wealth from oil could be a good place to start.

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Meanwhile, Liz Truss boasted her past as an environmentalist “before it was fashionable”. Unfortunately, her environmentalist principles must have been unfashionable within the Conservative Party as they have fallen by the wayside.

Truss previously denounced anti-fracking campaigns as “nimbyism” though hypocritically saw fit to cut solar farming subsidies, citing the green energy technology as an eyesore. While individual action does have a role to play, transformative shifts towards a sustainable future must embrace the role of communities.

Communities can provide the support that individuals alone or government policies can’t reach. This is particularly true during crises. Communities are the bedrock to the just transition which will secure social justice, higher living standards and restoration of biodiversity. They need to be included in the response to the climate emergency from the get-go. The future belongs to us all. The more people who recognise that as a collective we can work to ensure a sustainable future, the more people will feel empowered to act and organise within their communities.

One of the key recommendations from citizens involved in the Climate Assembly UK was a call for deeper local engagement, where communities are engaged in the search for solutions, included in policy decisions, design and implementation as well as existing talents incorporated, and new skills bolstered for sustainable capacity building.

Locally implemented climate solutions can enrich pre-existing pride and ownership within communities. I’m extremely proud of my Welsh heritage. As the first industrial nation, Wales led the way in coal production. Coal not only fuelled development globally but also built strong community spirit.

Even now, coal tips pepper Welsh landscapes, reminders of Wales’s industrial past which have been reclaimed by nature. As we look to a sustainable future, I hope to see a response which learns from Wales’s past – the importance of community and the need to learn from nature.

The National: Molly Hucker is a climate justice activist Molly Hucker is a climate justice activist

THERE’S no reason why people and nature can’t thrive simultaneously – we are part of it after all.

It requires us all to be imaginative in the future we want to co-create, thinking beyond individual successes measured through monetary wealth to the wellbeing of communities as a whole.

In both politics and nature, the role of communities has often been overlooked. Recently, I’ve been amazed to learn about how fungi help trees communicate and redistribute resources through mycelial networks. The wood-wide web protects ecosystem health, a far cry from the survival of the fittest mantra. We can learn from this – we need to emphasise the importance of collaboration. By involving communities, people can add meaning to what a sustainable future will look like for them, turning abstract policies which people struggle to engage with into imaginable future realities.

Community action facilitates a diversity of perspectives and innovative solutions because ultimately communities are most receptive to their own needs.

This will only increase the robustness of the response to the climate emergency.

The biggest sacrifice would be to not act at all and continue destroying our only home.

I think another way our conversations about the climate emergency can be more productive is to alter the language we use.

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All too often how we respond to the climate crisis is framed in terms of the sacrifices which need to be made instead of how our response can help create a better world.

The biggest sacrifice would be to not act at all and continue destroying our only home. Through action we stand to gain so much – cleaner air, healthier diets, better connections, happier lifestyles – the list goes on.

No-one should be left behind when it comes to the just transition. A whole society approach is what’s needed. The more intersectional our approach, the more transformative our solutions can be.

So please see this as a call to action. Talk to those in your community about what local solutions are needed. And like a wood wide web, community solutions everywhere can begin to deliver the transformative changes we so desperately need.

Only then will we begin to see system change.

Molly Hucker is a climate justice activist and politics student. She was a Renew The World youth delegate at the New York Times Climate Hub at COP26 and is working with Renew The World’s Alison Anderson and other Scottish youth delegates and industry role models as a stakeholder in the Just Transition Planning Framework for the Scottish Government, working on their theme from COP, on ensuring young women and young people have access to skilled work in the green sector through the Just Transition