The crises of a crisis: The impact of Covid-19 on localised decarbonisation ambitions in the United Kingdom

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Responding to crises leads to a shift in priorities and actions, with this affecting the achievement of longer-term strategic ambitions. This paper contributes to understandings of governing crises by exploring the tension between short-term crisis response and the achievement of longer-term policy goals, through the discussion of the Covid-19 pandemic and localised decarbonisation ambitions in Greater Manchester. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Greater Manchester outlined ambitions to achieve carbon neutrality by 2038 through the use of a place-based approach. Greater Manchester has been subject to a range of lockdown restrictions throughout the pandemic, with all aspects of society being impacted including decarbonisation ambitions. Thus providing a useful case study for understanding the impact that Covid-19 has had on the development and implementation of Greater Manchester's decarbonisation ambitions. Within this focus is placed on the opportunities and constraints experienced.

A total of 22 semi-structured interviews were conducted with stakeholders associated with Greater Manchester's decarbonisation ambitions between October 2020 and April 2021. Stakeholders interviewed included regional and local government, academics, community organisations, non-profit organisations and activist groups. Novel insights obtained through the stakeholder interviews highlight how Covid-19 has simultaneously constrained and provided opportunities for decarbonisation in Greater Manchester. Based upon the experiences of the stakeholders interviewed, 4 crises which have affected the achievement of longer-term decarbonisation ambitions have been identified – a communication crisis, an engagement crisis, a participation crisis and crises of temporality. The crises identified and discussed either emerged or intensified as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Although these crises are discussed in relation to the impact of Covid-19 on decarbonisation, the learnings identified can be applied to other crises and long-term strategic ambitions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102838
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Early online date11 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022


  • Covid-19
  • Crises
  • Decarbonisation
  • Localisation
  • Relational


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