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.




2 thoughts on “Zero Carbon Wales – all possible by 2050”

  1. Hi Pippa
    Sandals will always be cool!
    I think Cardiff and by extension Newport as well are already pretty cool places to live. I worry that the planned expansion of this area will continue unchecked into the Vale of Glamorgan, where my parents live, but from what I have seen the new houses in Cardiff look high quality, and the Bay is filling up nicely with smart developments. It all puts pressure on the natural beauty spots such as Southerndown and Penyfan, but with intelligent traffic management it should be possible to minimise disruption to these assets as much as possible.
    In terms of saving the planet, the first steps will be different for each individual, but in my case, recycling, driving less, eating less red meat and being economical with energy use are the main behaviours that I have been able to change. Having said that I am sitting here with a 20W fan on and two lightbulbs. I guess it’s up to each person to change what they can. I think the pressure to work and the pressure to succeed and consume go hand in hand, and there could be a lot said for everyone just expecting less frequent long journeys, 14 ounce steaks or foreign holidays. Duck out of the rat race!
    In terms of energy generation, I have supported renewables for years and will always do so, however I am flirting with new nuclear as an option still, purely because in West Cumbria where I live now, so many people are dependent on it. I still don’t like it though.
    It will be interesting post Brexit to see which of the grand infrastructure schemes go ahead and which are let go for now.
    Am enjoying reading your blog, regards to Your boys, Rich T x

    1. Thanks for the greetings Richard. I spoke to an architect recently who said that most new build houses currently had a life span of 30 years. Industrial buildings less. So we mustn’t gauge the metaphorical book by its cover.

      Most people with half a brain know what they need to do to cut their own footprint, yet are reluctant to make the shift. Old habits die hard. Im most cases it costs the earth to go out and work for money, and that is the trap. Thats is why I support a Citizens Income (UBI) to give us all more choices – work nearer home, learn more, re-train, bring up your own family and own your own life.

      I cannot condone nuclear. It is inherently unsafe and the waste product leaves a multi-generational legacy of poison.There is gratifying doubt about Hinckley C and Wylfa B going ahead. Westminster is in the grip of the lobbyists, and navigating that is a real political issue.

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