Upscaling from the grassroots: potential aggregate carbon reduction from community-based initiatives in Europe

  • Federico MartellozzoEmail author
  • David M. Landholm
  • Anne Holsten
Original Article


Anthropogenic activities are mainly responsible for the accelerated pace and magnitude of global environmental and climate change. Although several programs aiming at fuelling climate change mitigation have been adopted internationally in the last decades and localized improvements have been observed, the results expected by international institutions are regrettably still out of reach. Meanwhile, societies have experienced a significant proliferation of community-based initiatives (CBIs) fostering sustainable societal transition through different practices. Some studies claim that bottom-up activities may address sustainability issues more efficiently than top-down policies when appropriately scaled up. However, these are based mostly on anecdotal local evidence, and a systematic evaluation of the extent of CBIs’ potential contribution to climate change mitigation action at a larger scale has never been investigated. This paper elaborates a scaling-up exercise for CBIs’ carbon reduction at a broader scale and presents results about potential implications for European countries. Our findings suggest that, although varying greatly among countries, CBIs’ contribution to reach GHG reduction targets at the European scale can be important. However, a carbon reduction of such magnitude requires a substantial societal engagement in sustainable activities. Although societies cannot rely solely on the scaling-up of lifestyle changes promoted by CBIs to fulfill future environmental targets, policy makers should not neglect the large potential of societal engagement and should try to facilitate synergies between CBIs, industries, and institutions in developing climate change mitigation action.


Community-based initiatives GHG Sustainable development goals Climate change mitigation Sustainable societal transition 



This manuscript reflects the authors’ views. The European Commission is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein. We would like to thank all our colleagues that were involved in the TESS activities. All the authors contributed equally to this work; the experiment design and the writing of the manuscript were developed jointly by all authors. However, Introduction, Rationale, Data and Methods, and Results are mainly due to F. Martellozzo as the leading author of this work. D.M. Landholm developed fundamental preliminary work that was necessary as a base to develop the analysis hereby presented. A. Holsten mainly focused on the Conclusions, while all authors contributed equally to the Discussion section. F. Martellozzo at the time this research was developed was affiliated at the University of Rome La Sapienza in Rome, Italy.

Funding information

This work is part of an international research project that has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme under Grant Agreement No. 603705 (Project TESS).

Supplementary material

10113_2019_1469_MOESM1_ESM.docx (79 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 79 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Federico Martellozzo
    • 1
    Email author
  • David M. Landholm
    • 2
  • Anne Holsten
    • 2
  1. 1.DISEI Department of Economics and ManagementUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  2. 2.PIK - Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact ResearchPotsdamGermany

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