Zero Carbon Wales – all possible by 2050

At the Zero Carbon Wales seminar today (which was most enjoyable) There were few new concepts, and of course this would be so, because we have all the technologies we need to power down society, we just don’t seem to have the collective will – either politically, industrially or individually. Our current trajectory is on the path to a warming of 4 degrees C, despite the Paris Agreement to limit warming to a more hospitable 1.5 degrees
Some items stood out:
  • The average domestic building consumes 10,000 kw/year, and this could easily be reduced to 4,000 kw/year
  • The infernal combustion engine is only 18 – 20% efficient. An EV will go 3 x as far per unit of energy.
  • 82% of the time our renewable energy generation meets total electricity demand.
  • Land use has to change dramatically, to grow less to support the animals we archaically slaughter to eat, and grow more to support actual human food needs as well as slashing CHG’s. That means putting 33% of land down to fruit and veg. Currently its 9%.
  • Trees are still the best carbon capture machines, and we need to plant a lot more of them.
  • Selective localisation of supply chains – after all, we still want bananas and chocolate!
  • A future where the weather forecast would include daily power generation stats. The presenter suggested this energy generation should be monetarized in terms of cash into the economy.

Personally I’m against the monetization of nature and would prefer energy generation to be in terms of percentage of energy needed. The energy needed will reduce as we embrace decent building standards, cleaner industries and efficient storage capacity, and therefore the percentage generated will become relatively higher, leading to a surplus by 2030.

There was an interesting workshop session in which we all wrote a postcard from 2045, bypassing  all strategies to get there, and spoke about our ideal world. My group was very keen on the community aspects, and apart from a (surprising) couple of sustainability fascists, there was a clear trend to a 3 day working week, a Citizens Income, localisation, smaller families, intentional communities, long life spans, end of life choices, and a healthy, active older age.

There was some discussion about what the best city in the world would look like ( currently my favourite is Freiburg in SW Germany, though far from perfect). In the future it could be Cardiff, or Bangor, or yes – even Newport! The mental imagery conjured up was most therapeutic.

We were brought down to earth by a comment summing up why we are here, and not there – in the cool sustainable future – ‘Government is a relic obstructing change.’ Now that was particularly sobering.

Interestingly there was a distinct lack of the socks and sandals combo amongst attendees – only one set in evidence. Could it be that shoes are now more comfortable? Or has the age of the eccentric activist left Cardiff for the open fields of wisdom.

On a brighter note, if you have the chance to read Zero Carbon Britain,  or even the summary, it is heartening stuff. It lives in the realms of the entirely possible.




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