Engaging Civil Society
The Climate Change Commission for Wales believes it is critical to engage with the Third sector and civil society to achieve a significant impact in tackling climate change.
The National Conversation on “The Wales We Want”, a conversation on behalf of future Generations, interim report showed that when people were asked what issues are of most concern for the future of Wales – climate change and the natural environment came out at the top (at 69.5% and 69% respectively).
Our key asks are to:
• Recognise, and continue to incentivise, the role that civil society has in kick starting local action, education and enterprise initiatives that promote climate friendly living. Community supported agriculture, the community reuse sector, surplus food cafes, sustainable travel, community woodland and habitat management projects are examples.
• Recognise the key ‘trusted messenger’ role that third sector organisations play in engaging members and beneficiaries with climate change issues and ensure there is adequate support and resources available for this to continue.
There are a large number of third sector organisations driving the transition to a low carbon economy and creating sustainable businesses, projects and schemes that help their local community. The CCCW are asking for more support to help develop and introduce inspiring projects such as the ones mentioned below.
Transition Bro Gwaun
Transition Bro Gwaun is a community process of imagining and creating a future that addresses the challenges of climate change, resource depletion, including expensive oil and gas supplies, and an unsustainable economy reliant on growth. They run a Surplus Food Project and Transition Community Café which cuts food waste and saves carbon by stopping food going to landfill. Volunteers and staff collect perfectly good food that local shops and businesses would otherwise throw away and turn much of it into affordable, healthy meals and preserves for sale in Transition community cafe. This currently prevents an average of 600 kilos of food per month going to landfill – so making carbon savings of 21 tonnes per year. Transition Bro Gwaun also has a community wind turbine that creates energy for the local area.
WWF Cymru has developed the Sustainable Development Alliance of over 20 organisations to influence the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill. This Alliance has championed the recognition of environmental limits and climate change within the Bill and called for the setting of climate change targets to be part of the legislation. WWF Cymru also launched the campaign Welsh Wish to engage the public and supporters on climate change and other issues as part of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill. WWF invited their supporters and the public to share a photo of what ‘living in harmony with the planet’ means to them and to tell them why they want to protect this for future generations.
The Centre for Alternative Technology
The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) delivers educational programmes to help society rise to the climate challenge. The expert teaching is complemented by examples of sustainability in practice – the food they eat, the construction of the buildings, the way electricity is generated, the water systems. In this immersive learning environment, people learn not just with their head, but also with their heart and whole being. CAT is also responsible for the Zero Carbon Britain project – a flagship research project showing that a modern, zero-emissions society is possible using technology available today.
Since WCVA accepted the Guardian’s 10:10 Challenge – to reduce CO2 emissions by 10% in 2010 – we’ve been working to reduce our carbon footprint. This has included installing solar panels at our offices in Aberystwyth and Rhyl, promoting sustainable travel and changing internal practices – including catering, daily work practises and procurement – to reduce resource and energy use. After 4 years we had succeeded in reducing our carbon footprint from travel by an estimated 19% and our resource use (gas, water and electricity) by more than half. They have also introduced sustainability responsibilities into staff performance reviews and are now looking to improve cycling facilities and keep bees on the Cardiff office roof to support local growing. Climate change is also a key theme of their new environmental information and support service “Environet” in recognition of the pioneering role that civil society has played in demonstrating climate-friendly living.
FareShare Cymru was established in 2010 and began delivering food in July 2011. FareShare Cymru works to fight food poverty by tackling food waste. Their vision is of a Wales where no good food goes to waste. A Wales where food waste is minimised and any surplus food is used to benefit those that need it most. It takes surplus edible food from the food and drink industry that would otherwise be thrown away and redistributes it to organisations in Wales that feed people in need. This turns an environmental problem into a social solution – with a significant impact on reducing emissions from over-producing and wasting food. There are an estimated 200,000 people in food poverty in Wales. In the financial year 2014/15 Fareshare Cymru saved 518 tonnes of food from going to waste, saving 1517 tonnes of CO2. 35 charities and community organisations received FareShare Cymru Food which provide over 18 million meals for vulnerable people.
Renew Wales was set up by a group of community practitioners in 2012 to help 200 community groups tackle the causes and impacts of climate change. The service provides peer-to-peer advice, training, mentoring and technical support from other experienced groups which have already delivered projects in their communities. Many of these projects have involved community renewable energy regeneration although there are a number of other inspiring case studies on community projects including sustainable travel (car clubs and cycling), reuse and locally grown food. A highlight had been the development of Wales’ first Solar PV Co-operative Egni.
Homemakers Community Recycling
Homemakers Community Recycling is a community-based, social enterprise in Monmouthshire that collects unwanted household items for remodelling and re-use. In 2014-15 the charity collected more than 300 tonnes of furniture and household goods – 82% of which was diverted from landfill. The group’s aim is to develop a furniture recycling project with a workshop and skilled staff to maximise diversion from the waste stream of furniture and other household goods. The Homemakers project is pioneering in that it encourages and ensures reuse and repair, and remodelling of waste streams. To date, the project has diverted an estimated 574 tonnes from landfill. This equates to almost 900 tonnes of carbon emissions savings.
Egni is Wales’ first Solar PV Co-operative. Through installing solar panels on community buildings in Wales it aims to generate clean energy whilst also helping community projects to be more financially stable. It also we gives people the chance to put their money towards a more sustainable future. In 2014-15, the cooperative raised £171,000 from 94 members and installed solar panels on five community buildings in south Wales. These systems total 119 kWp of solar PV, saving 1,000 tonnes of carbon over the lifetime of the panels.
Community groups have demonstrated that the transition to a low carbon economy is possible and with further support these types of initiatives could happen right across Wales.
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