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Climate Action / Climate and Disability

Climate and Disability

Working directly with Disabled people on local climate action

Words that might not be accessible to everyone are in bold. They are explained in the jargon buster at the end of the page.

In 2022 the world’s first community climate action plan made by and for Disabled people was launched.

Disabled people are one of the groups that will be hurt most by climate change and the loss of nature. Yet Disabled people have been largely left out of action and planning. This has not only led to climate work making new barriers for Disabled people but meant the movement has missed out on the expertise and ideas that Disabled people can bring.

The Climate and Disability programme supports Bristol’s commitment to a just transition by working directly with Disabled people on local action on climate change.

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Check out the jargon buster

Group of Disabled people holding banner that says 'Make the future green and accessible'


A group of local Disabled people is meeting every two months to champion the climate action plan for Bristol’s community of Disabled people. The group will be made up of Disabled people with a wide spread of impairments. They will give feedback on the project, update the community climate action plan, and invite climate change projects and groups in to give them feedback and advice.

Graphic of person with a speech bubble, a tree and a cloud

Inclusive transport

In collaboration with Sustrans, a new Inclusive Transport Advocate role has been created. The role will advocate for positive changes to the local transport system which support an inclusive shift to low carbon transport that is usable, accessible and safe for everyone. The role has a particular focus on the needs of the community of Disabled people.

Image © photojB

Disability and energy

The disability and energy strand aims to make sure that energy services in Bristol think about the needs of Disabled people. It is researching the barriers that Disabled people face around energy. This includes when getting energy advice, making changes to homes and joining the city’s heat networks. The project will work with Disabled people find solutions to these barriers.

Recommendations from the project will be given to Bristol City Leap and shared with other cities, to make their energy services accessible to and good for Disabled people. The work is being done together with the Centre for Sustainable Energy.

Graphic of a person, sun and windturbine

Strategic influencing

Two roundtables are being run. These are events that bring together key people and organisations in Bristol to share understanding. The roundtables are looking at barriers of solutions to making Bristol’s action on climate change fair for Disabled people.

The roundtables are run together with a project at the University of Exeter called Sensing Climate. Sensing Climate is looking at how climate change and action on it is impacting Disabled people.

Image © Annie Spratt

“The changes our city makes to stop climate change could make serious new barriers for Disabled people if we are ignored. Yet if we are included, and the work made around our needs, the changes could be the biggest opportunity to make Bristol accessible in our lifetimes.”

Dr Emma Geen

Climate and Disability Programme Associate

Want to learn more?

Read the community climate action plan for Bristol’s Community of Disabled people.

View the plan

Jargon buster

Accessible: When a Disabled person can use or take part in something because their needs have been met.

Active travel: Making journeys in physically active ways, like walking, wheeling, cycling.

Advocate: To represent something and push for changes to be made for it.

Affecting: Making changes for something for someone.

Anonymise: changing information so no one can tell whose it is.

Associate: Someone who isn’t part of an organisation but does work for them.

Audiences: The people you are trying to reach.

Awareness raising: Making people aware of an issue and getting them to care about it.

Candidate: People that have applied to a job.

Champion: Someone who pushes for change on an issue and makes sure it is known about.

Chronic illness: Ongoing and serious illness.

Citizens’ Inquiry: A way for people to feed in their ideas to something to make changes.

Climate change: A long term change in how hot the world is and the weather conditions. It is caused by humans and our use of dirty fuel like oil and gas. The heat means that lots of dangerous weather is happening.  For example, in Bristol it means there will be more floods and more extreme heat.

Co-developing: Working with members of a community to make something together with them.

Collaborative: Work with other people to do something.

Commission: When people are asked to do a piece of work.

Commitment: To be certain that you want to do something or act in a certain way.  Making sure you do this.

Community climate action plan: A plan made by a community that works out how they are going to take action on climate change.

DBS: An Enhanced DBS check is suitable for people working with children or adults in certain circumstances such as those in receipt of healthcare or personal care.

Debilitating: Causing weakness.

Decision/making: When people decide on something. Here we are talking about people with power deciding what to do.

Desirable: Something that is wanted.

Disabling: Something that makes someone disabled.

Disproportionally: Causing more change to one group than others.

Diverse: When a group is made up of lots of different types of people, including the people who are normally left out.

Economic: To do with money.

Empowering: Making people feel like they have power to do something.

Encourage: When someone would like you to do something and shows support or you doing it. 

Engage: Talking to people to share what you are doing and hear their ideas.

Environmental sustainability: Things that are good for the planet in the long term.

Equality, diversity and inclusion principles: Working in a way that is good for and includes people who are often treated unfairly, for example Disabled people or Black people.

Excluded: To be left out.

Expertise: The knowledge experts who know a lot about something have.

Flexible: Work in a way that can change.

Forum: When a group of people come together to talk about an issue.

Forum theatre: A type of play where the audience can get on stage to change what happens.

Guidance: Giving ideas and feedback to help people do something.

Heat networks: Heat networks take heat and hot water from one point in a neighbourhood and share it with all the local houses through underground pipes.

Identifying: In this case it means that someone thinks of themself in a certain way.  For example, says that they’re a Disabled people. 

Influence: Encourage someone to think the similar things as you and get them to take good action

Interpersonal skills: a set of personal skills which help you communicate and interact well with other people

Inclusive: Including everyone and making sure everyone can use something.

Jargon buster: A list that explains the words that might not be accessible to everyone.

Just transition: When changes to a place that are made for the planet and nature that are fair for all the people who live there too.

Learning difficulties: People who experience difficulties around learning or information.

Lived experience: Having experience of something because it has happened to you and is part of your life.

Low carbon: When something doesn’t make much CO2.  CO2 is one of the dirty gases that is making climate change.

Mentoring: When someone with experience supports someone who has less experience.

Nature crisis: The loss of nature that is taking place across the planet.

Navigate: To find a way through something.

Neurodiversity: When people think in ways that society thinks of as being different from many people.

Opportunity: A chance to make something good happen.

Partnership: Working together on something.

Policy/making: A plan of what to do in certain situations. We are talking here about what the council says they will do.

Political: To do with politics and how a place is run. For example, MPs, mayors or councillors.

Priority: When something is seen as important and so will be a focus for action.

Protected characteristics: People who the law protects against being treated unfairly.

Reasonable adjustments: Changes that have to be made by law so that a Disabled person can do or be part of something.

Research: Looking at something to understand it better.

Responsibilities: When someone needs to lead on something or make it happen.

Roundtable: When people come together to talk about something and share ideas and expertise.

Quarterly reporting: Writing a report to say what has happened four times a year.

Self-motivated: Working on your own and making things happen without someone else having to tell you what to do step by step.

Sensory impairments: Difficulties with hearing or sight.

Shortlisting: Making a list of people that will be interviewed.

Social housing: Homes that are owned by the council.  Lots of Disabled people live in them.

Social model of disability: The understanding that Disabled people are made by a world that doesn’t look after their needs. It is the world that is the problem not the person.

Stakeholders: People who are important to project.  Often they have power to make something happen or are the people who’s needs need to be heard.

Strategic/ally: Doing something in a way that thinks about how to make the most happen in the best way possible using the smallest amount of energy, time and materials.

Suitability: About whether something or someone is a good fit.

Sustainable transport: Efficient, safe, and accessible transport with overall low impact on the environment, including active travel and public transport.

System: A group of things that work together.

Toolkit: A document that helps people know how to do something well.

Unconscious bias: When people treat people from some groups less well without knowing   that they’re doing this.

Wheeling: Sustrans’ recognises that some people who use wheeled mobility aids, for example a wheelchair or a mobility scooter, may not identify with the term walking and may prefer to use the term wheeling. We use the terms walking and wheeling together to ensure we are as inclusive as possible.