One of the key issues I’ve been thinking and writing about is how we think about what we do and how we work, when in government, in relation to what we are asking of households. We can all probably point to examples where one arm of government, whether local, state or Federal (probably, especially Federal) is doing one thing, such as encouraging people to take on more sustainable practices within their homes, while another actively encourages the exact opposite.
This can take the form of subsidies for fossil fuel production while also providing incentives for renewable energy (albeit at a level low enough not to disrupt an existing fossil fuel paradigm). Within local government, we may have a sustainable transport officer encouraging children to walk and cycle to school while the parking and planning division provides free parking right outside the school.
In developing solutions to climate change as a super wicked problem, we need to be aware of these conflicts that can constrain our interventions. In developing new interventions, it might be a good first step to consider, what are we asking the household to do and is what we do as a local government, align with that? If not, what needs to change?
I recognise that one of the problems with this is that local government officers don’t get much time to reflect on these issues. So, if you’ve had any experience you can share with others about identifying such mis-alignments and if you were able to overcome them, let us know in the comments section.