How does permaculture support positive climate action?

Permaculture and climate action are deeply linked in many ways, as permaculture offers a wide range of principles and practices that directly address the challenges of climate change and supports positive climate action. Permaculture alone cannot solve climate change. It's one piece of a broader puzzle, but it is a powerful framework for individuals and communities to actively participate in climate action by building more sustainable and resilient systems for the future.

Permaculture is climate action

Mitigation  

Minimising our carbon emissions

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Changing our habits. How we travel, what materials we use, how much energy we use, where we shop and what food we choose to eat can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. 
Retrofitting offices and homes, and finding multiple uses for buildings makes better use of our physical spaces.

Heat the person, not the home. Take a moment before taking an action to see if there is a more climate-friendly option to heating the space around us.

Take more journeys on foot and by bike, buy local food and support small local businesses to reduce our food miles and carbon emissions whilst promoting a local economy.

Costa del South Coast. We all need a break but before you book a flight, check if you have any destinations on your bucket list which could be reached by public transport, car or boat. 

Significantly reducing our consumption will have a dramatic overall effect. We need to be doing more refusing, whether it’s excess packaging, cheap goods that won’t last, or just simply something we don’t need. Shifting to a culture of reuse, maintaining and repairing is paramount. We can't rely on ineffective recycling programs. 

Adaptation 

Building resilience to the impact of climate change

Changing our diets. As the climate changes, our diets will need to shift to accommodate more diverse foods. In particular, food grown from perennial plants and trees will have a critical role to play.

Forest Gardens, a well-known permaculture initiative, are a multi-layered food growing system which utilise traditional forest layers to mimic resilient growing conditions for diverse types of food. Find out more about Forest Gardens.

Home alterations such as insulating them in colder months and creating shade in the hotter months reduces our reliance on electrically climate control systems. 

Water conservation such as rainwater harvesting, greywater systems, and water-efficient landscaping conserve precious water resources, becoming increasingly important with changing precipitation patterns. Water catchment in the landscape helps prevent flash floods in times of heavy rain and stores excess water for future use.
Capturing and storing rainwater that runs off buildings can be easily achieved using waterbutts or larger IBC water containers. By saving rainwater in the winter, you can have plenty to water your garden in the long, hot summer months. 

Microclimate modification such as the strategic planting of trees and windbreaks can regulate temperature, protect crops from extreme weather events, and create more comfortable microclimates for humans and animals. Increasing tree cover in towns and cities reduces the urban heat island effect. Studies have shown that it can be 5 degrees cooler in shaded areas. Where trees shade buildings, this reduced the reliance on air cooling systems inside. 

Improving biodiversity by creating diverse ecosystems with native plants and integrated animal systems, supports healthier soils, reduces erosion, and promotes natural pest control, making systems more resilient to climate extremes.

Adaptation

Sequestration 

Capture and store carbon in living systems

capture and store carbon

We need to both proactively increase the amount of carbon captured in our soil AND reduce the opportunity for existing carbon to be released. Soil is the world's second largest carbon sink (after the oceans). The healthier the soil, the more carbon it can store. 

Support soil health by feeding organisms in the soil, protecting soil from erosion, avoiding pesticides, providing permanent leaf cover, and reducing tillage and soil disturbance. 

Permaculture techniques like composting, cover cropping, and no-till farming improve soil health and increase carbon storage, mitigating atmospheric CO2, a major greenhouse gas.

Wood is 50% carbon, so trees are a great carbon store. Tree’s respiration also converts CO2 into oxygen. They build soil, stabilise local climates, help wildlife, provide food and wood. Promoting tree-based agriculture including forest gardens, agroforestry, silvopasture, hedges and shelterbelts and planting as many trees as we can will aid carbon capture.

Landscape design needs to increase managed woodland, riparian buffers and natural regeneration and support re-wilding. A significant reduction in grazing animals in areas where tree saplings would naturally grow would support the naturalised regeneration of our woodlands. 
 

Social and Cultural Change

Community building and education. Permaculture creates the perfect conditions for strengthening community cohesion and promoting knowledge sharing, which empower individuals and groups to take climate action collaboratively.

Shifting consumer expectations by encouraging local food production, permaculture promotes reduced reliance on industrial agriculture and its associated environmental impact. We need to adapt our mindset and our view of what the future looks like. As climates shift and weather patterns become more unstable, we need to work as communities to find local, appropriate solutions, using nature as our guide. By adjusting our expectations now, we can be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. 

Reconnecting with nature. Permaculture encourages a deeper understanding of ecological principles and promotes responsible stewardship of the planet. Through simple actions, people can find a space to embrace the wonders of nature and understand that we are part of this delicate ecosystem… not separate from it. 

Bioregionalism/ localisation refers to our being rooting in a location and building strong community connections with the land and people near us. There will be an increasing need for community self-reliance and resilience which has a strong people care element and can improve happiness and wellbeing. 

social and cultural change
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What are we doing to address Climate Justice?

Permaculture’s ethics (‘Earth Care, People Care, Fair Shares’), ecological principles, and design frameworks are fundamental to our climate justice work.
At the Permaculture Association (Britain), we have a number of current and recent projects addressing climate justice. 

Climate change is a justice issue

The majority of greenhouse gas emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels to power industries, stores, homes and schools and produce goods and services, including food, transportation and infrastructure, to name just a few. High-emitting countries could reduce their emissions significantly without reducing the well-being of their populations, while lower-income, lower-emitting countries cannot.

Greenhouse gas emissions accumulate over time.

Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, and this accumulation drives climate change. Carbon dioxide traps heat, warming the planet. Some countries and regions bear vastly more responsibility for cumulative emissions than others.

For instance, the United States has emitted over a quarter of all greenhouse gases since the 1750s, while the entire continent of Africa has emitted only about 3%.


5% of the world’s population was responsible for 36% of the greenhouse gases from 1990-2015. The poorest half of the population was responsible for less than 6%.
 

Over one-third of global carbon emissions from fossil fuels and cement over the past half-century can be directly traced to 20 companies, primarily producers of oil and gas. This draws attention to the need to develop policies capable of holding large corporations accountable for their role in climate change.

Climate impacts – such as droughts, floods or storms – affect people differently depending on their wealth and access to resources and on their involvement in decision making. Processes that marginalise people, such as racial injustice and colonialism, mean that some people in a country or community are more likely than others to be able to protect themselves from climate harms.

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