CAT celebrates the next generation of graduates ‘making it happen’

Graduates from the Centre for Alternative Technology celebrate their academic successes at ceremony.

CAT Graduation
CAT’s CEO Adrian Ramsay addresses Graduates and their families in the rammed earth lecture theatre

Over 40 students from the Graduate School of the Environment at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Machynlleth celebrated the successful completion of their studies with an award ceremony on Saturday 14th November.

The evening also included a buffet dinner, a welcome from CAT’s chief executive Adrian Ramsay and a keynote speech by Professor Herbert Girardet, leading environmental commentator and author of several books including the seminal “Blueprint for a Green Planet” (1987) and “Creating Regenerative Cities” (2014).

class of 2015
The class of 2015 – CAT Graduation

The event saw students graduate from all of CAT’s postgraduate programmes: MSc Renewable Energy and the Built Environment, Professional Diploma in Architecture, MSc Architecture: Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies and MSc Sustainability and Adaptation.

Adrian Ramsay, CEO of CAT, said they were the people who would be ‘making it happen’ in the transition to a zero carbon future:

“The world faces many challenges in the transition to a zero carbon future. The knowledge and skills that our graduates learn by studying at the Graduate School for the Environment equip them well to be the people making it happen. We are very proud of this year’s CAT graduates and look forward to hearing about their successes as they take the knowledge gained from their time at CAT into their careers, communities and home lives.”

Five students received particular awards for excellence in their dissertations. Helen Nicholls received an award for her dissertation comparing the impact of different waste water treatment systems on climate change. Lee Eyre received an award for his research into the role of metaphor in the world views of environmentalists. Elgan Roberts’ award-winning study looked at the greenhouse gas emissions from small scale hydroelectric schemes in Wales. Anne-Clare Landolt received an award for her dissertation on storing heat to improve greenhouse growing conditions. Lucy Jones also received an award for her technical report on a more sustainable alternative to supermarkets.

graduation buffet
CAT congratulates the class of 2015 with a buffet dinner

This year’s graduates join over one thousand people who have graduated from CAT’s postgraduate courses and are working for sustainability in their work and communities across the UK and around the world. CAT graduates have taken their skills to many professions which need expertise in sustainability and many companies have been set up by CAT graduates, bringing innovative solutions to environmental problems.

Photographs by Eveleigh Photography

graduation bar
Celebrating in the bar after the ceremony

Dance your paws off at CAT, with Martha Tilston

Legendary festival folkster Martha Tilston plays the Centre for Alternative Technology on 20th November.

Supported by Aberystwyth folk band Three Legg’d Mare, Martha Tilston plays the last date of her oxygen tour here in Pantperthog, near Machynlleth.de17a9e72eec40dc0a94cbafe42e7ac03ac3a7f7

“Martha and band have spread their unique magic on some of the worlds most prestigious stages and festivals, recording with Zero 7, winning nominations for the BBC awards and generating 5 star reviews in national and international press,” say promoters Skiddle.

John Challen, Head of Eco-Centre at CAT said: “As a unique venue with sustainability at its core, we are delighted that Martha Tilston chose to come to CAT as part of her nationwide tour. We look forward to hosting more events like this in the future.”

Join us at 7pm for food from our award winning restaurant, before the headline guest comes on stage at 9.30pm. There will be a bar open until midnight, and tickets are £10, or £15 with food.

Listen here and here for a taste of Martha’s unique style.

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Tickets available from Beautiful You, Heol Maengwyn, Machynlleth SY20 8DT or

Who’s Getting Ready for Zero?

Track 0 and The Centre for Alternative Technology launch ground-breaking new report.

Download the new report here and the executive summary here.

As international negotiations around the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ramp up, and a new agreement is expected in Paris in December 2015, this timely new report Who’s Getting Ready for Zero? maps out how different actors at national, regional and city levels are already working out how to develop and decarbonise using science-based time-frames.zcb_cat_logo

In the first of its kind, the report draws on results from over 100 scenarios that demonstrate how we can reach low or zero emissions before the second half of the century with existing technology, without harming social or economic development. The national decarbonisation scenarios include sixteen of the world’s largest emitters, responsible for 75% of the world’s carbon emissions.

track0__logoAchieving zero is about more than emissions; it’s about sustainable development, more jobs, improved health and well-being, and strengthened communities with improved access to safe, clean energy.”

Farhana Yamin, report author and CEO of Track 0


Conclusions from the report show that scenario building is a powerful tool that can engage stakeholders and citizens, and that more work is needed to develop long-term decarbonisation strategies and to share results within and across countries. Doing so will increase confidence in a country’s nationally determined climate commitments, whilst driving the powerful actions, targets, incentives and legislation which are needed today.

“This report is very much a first cut at mapping out who is doing what to get to zero. Whilst further work needs to be done to fill in gaps we must join together and celebrate the exciting progress already being made in mapping the path to zero. We must build the practitioners’ community at a global, national and city scale for a collective global push for a zero emissions world by mid-century.”

Paul Allen, report author and project coordinator of Zero Carbon Britain

The concluding recommendation of the report is for the creation of a new network to support zero modelling practitioners to enable the development of long-term scenarios and decarbonisation strategies. This network could underpin the implementation of the Paris agreement by engaging citizens and stakeholders to plan and build their versions of a zero carbon, climate resilient world.

Report Authors:

Paul Allen, Project Coordinator, Zero Carbon Britain:

Isabel Bottoms, Researcher and Policy Outreach, Track 0:

Philip James, Researcher, Zero Carbon Britain:

Farhana Yamin, Founder & CEO, Track 0; Associate Fellow, Chatham House:


Track 0 @ontrack0

Track 0 is an independent not-for-profit, which serves as a hub to support all those working to phase out greenhouse gas emissions so that we can usher in a future defined by zero poverty, zero emissions and clean energy for all. Based in London but with a global reach Track 0 focusses on the international climate change negotiations and policy-relevant climate research related to the long-term goal of phasing out GHG emissions. Track 0 provides research, strategy, policy advice, communications, convening and networking support to governments, businesses, investors, communities and NGOs. We also work closely with civil society, social movements and all those within the development community working on achieving zero poverty and zero emissions. We are not a campaigning or political organisation.

Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT)

CAT Charity is concerned with the search for globally sustainable, zero carbon technologies and ways of living. CAT has a holistic approach to its work, integrating ideas and practice relating to energy, land use, biodiversity, the built environment, material use, diet, health and wellbeing. CAT inspires, informs and enables tens of thousands of people each year to achieve positive change in their own lives, through the live-lab research, its visitor complex, collaborations with eco-centres in other countries, consultancy as well as its hands-on educational programmes.

The Zero Carbon Britain project pulls together four decades of practical experience into a single framework that can be clearly and effectively articulated to catalyse urgent action on climate across all sectors of society.




CAT launches new history book, Voices from a Disused Quarry

Author Allan Shepherd will launched his new book on Friday 3rd of September exploring the history of pioneering environmental organisation the Centre for Alternative Technology.

The launch of the book, Voices from a disused quarry – an oral history of the Centre for Alternative Technology, is the culmination of a three-year oral history project involving over 150 local people, as well as the National Library of Wales, the Arts Council of Wales, The People’s Collection of Wales and the University of Aberystwyth. The project also featured artists, archivists and performers, and included a special edition of Radio 4’s The Reunion.

The book explores the history of the world renowned environmental charity and the challenges and opportunities it has encountered though-out its 40 years. The book was launched at the Small Is festival that was  held at the Centre for Alternative Technology on  the 4th to the 6th of September

“The Small Is festival is a fitting place to launch a history book about CAT and we’re excited to be hosting a dynamic young festival bringing together artists, thinkers and doers working towards creating a betterVoices web res environmental future, whilst reflecting on the past listening to the voices from a disused quarry collected through CAT’s oral history project.”

More than 60 people interviewed for the oral history project are featured in the book, which explores many aspects of CAT’s work, as well as its place in Wales and its role within the environmental movement.

“The project was one of the best things I’ve been involved with. It was a pleasure interviewing so many interesting people and working with these great institutions within Wales. We’d like to do more work with the interviews because they contain the collective wisdom of many years of experience, which I think is relevant to a great many people. CAT is a fascinating place. Why did it start on a disused quarry in a small valley in mid-Wales? What did it mean for the communities in this valley, and for the people who came from elsewhere to work there. Why did it do what it did? What did it achieve? These are some of the questions I try and answer in the book, using the oral testimonies of people close to CAT – its workers, trustees, members, friends and neighbours.”

Allan Shepherd

The book will be published on September 3rd, alongside a new archive website containing historical documents, photographs and a catalogue of material now held at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.

CAT was born out of apocalyptic nuclear threat, post full-employment industrial strife and an emergent energy crisis that defined a new kind of environmentalism. Unlike campaign-focused organisations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, CAT gave people a positive vision for the future based on novel technological and social ideas, at a time when many questioned earth’s very survival. It changed the way people viewed environmental issues and created a new environmental dynamic that helped create Britain’s organic and renewable energy industries.


Voices from a disused quarry – an oral history of the Centre for Alternative Technology is published by the Centre for Alternative Technology and costs £19.95, ISBN 978-1-902175-87-4, 150pp, fully illustrated throughout. For more information contact or purchase from

• Allan Shepherd will be speaking between 6 and 7 in the Sheppard Theatre in the WISE building at CAT.

• For more information about the archive visit our new archive website

• The Small Is festival explores positive responses to our future through low carbon technology, social justice and the arts. This years festival includes comedians Rob Newman and Josie Long, Mercury Prize nominee Sam Lee, and speakers Jane Davidson and Andrew Simms. Tickets are available from

• Before the festival CAT will be running a special short course on Zero Carbon Britain with free entry to the festival included if booking additional B&B.

• Author Allan Shepherd has written 19 books including The Little Book of Compost, Curious Incidents in the Garden at Night-time and The Organic Garden. He is also a freelance feature writer, and has written over 50 articles for a wide range of publications including The Guardian and The Express. He was shortlisted for Garden Columnist of the Year for his column on organic gardening for Garden News. He is happy to be interviewed or to be commissioned to write an article based around the history of CAT. Extracts from the book are not available, due to the nature of the material. For more information contact

Proposed cuts to Feed in Tariffs are ‘a disaster for the climate’ say experts at CAT

Proposed cuts to Feed in Tariffs are ‘a disaster for the climate’ say experts at CAT

The Feed in Tariff (FiT) scheme was set up in 2010 to promote small-scale renewables through ensuring householders, communities or businesses are paid a set tariff by electricity suppliers for the power their projects generate.IMG_9818

On 27th August, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced a review of the FiT scheme, proposing a set of measures including revised tariffs based on updated technology cost data, a more stringent degression mechanism and deployment caps leading to the phased closure of the scheme in 2018-19. The consultation proposes that if such measures cannot put the scheme on an affordable and sustainable footing then there should be an end to generation tariffs for new applicants as soon as legislatively possible, which could be as early as January 2016.

What the headlines from yesterday’s announcement on Feed in Tariffs should have shown was clear support for the deployment of small to medium scale renewable technology. A visionary policy on renewables could have driven an increased uptake of low carbon initiatives in farms, households, communities and businesses, slashing carbon emissions and generating energy and income for people across the UK.

Instead, we are seeing a wholesale dismantling of a scheme that has enjoyed huge success – small to medium scale wind alone has injected £174 million into the economy in the past year. The announcement has come as a great blow to a flourishing industry and threatens tens of thousands of jobs. DECC needs to show that it understands the climate science, that it recognises that we have the technologies to reduce emissions, and that it has the capacity to make the right decisions to support a flourishing industry.

Whilst this government may protest about the amount of money spent growing the clean energy sector, it is important to remember that kick-start subsidies are only temporary measures and if they are cut too sharply the uncertainty created in these vital new markets actually devalues the money invested to date. Furthermore, it must be recognised that the long-mature coal, gas and oil energy markets also get generous and on-going subsidies and incur additional externalised costs that occur at some point in the future or in other places.

Unless long-industrialised countries like the UK begin to make deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions there is a severe risk that we will be unable to stop global temperatures from rising by above 2 degrees – the consequences of which will be devastating across the world.

The Centre for Alternative Technology will next week launch a new report – ‘Who’s Getting Ready for Zero?’ – showing that across the globe countries, regions and cities are preparing for the transition to a zero carbon future. DECC’s announcement is another in a series that show a radical rethinking is required in the current UK government to meet the climate challenges we face.
To take part in the online consultation follow this link
Further analysis from Friends of the Earth, Renewable UK , Business Green

New partnership announced by the Centre for Alternative Technology and Garden Organic.

New partnership announced by the Centre for Alternative Technology and Garden Organic.

Two of the UK’s leading organisations pioneering organic methods of gardening are joining forces to offer a range of cutting edge courses to the general public.

Throughout 2015 courses will be exchanged by both centres, covering a range of topics such as composting, organic gardening, building a garden bench, making a compost toilet and beginner guides to renewable energy.

The central UK location of Ryton Organic Gardens will allow a greatly increased number of people to participate in innovative and acclaimed day courses taught by CAT tutors across a range of topics. Garden Organic’s experience and knowledge of organic growing principles and practice is demonstrated at CAT’s wonderful site in Mid Wales. Course leaders from Garden Organic will be running a series of residential courses in composting and organic garden techniques at CAT.

Garden Organic CEO James Campbell said,Garden Organic logo MAIN

“I’ve long been a supporter of CAT and a regular visitor to their inspirational site in Wales. I am delighted that our organisations are collaborating closely, and welcome a new and wider audience for the exciting and stimulating range of CAT courses at Ryton over the next few months.”

Adrian Ramsay CEO of CAT said,

“The shared values of both organisations in promoting, researching, and showcasing sustainable methods of food production means that there is a great deal that our organisations have in common, and a shared synergy that we can build on.”

Garden Organic is a national charity for organic growing, providing a range of programmes to enhance individuals, communities and the environment through organic growing. They also aim to protect and preserve plant heritage through their heritage gardens and seed library.

The Centre for Alternative Technology is an environmental education charity that aims to inform, inspire and enable practical solutions for sustainable living. Members and supporters of both organisations will be encouraged by this innovative collaboration to share the benefits more widely.

Llangynfelyn pupils visit CAT for British Science Week

Photos on Flickr.

Pupils at Llangynfelyn Primary School have been on a trip to the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) as part of activities going on nationwide for British Science Week. During the visit they had a tour of the centre and took part in a wind power workshop, in which they designed and tested model wind turbines.

turbine spins
Testing model wind turbines in a wind power workshop

The trip was organised by the school for pupils from years three to six. Miss Cerys, a teaching assistant who accompanied the group alongside class teacher Miss Siwan, said:

“It has been a wonderful, out of the box, learning experience. I’ve learned about things I didn’t even think were possible, like using straw bales in walls. I have also been impressed by how much the children already knew, and it has given them a chance to express that too.”

Toni, a year six pupil said the day had been a lot of fun:

“I like how everyone has worked together. I like how we got to make our own wind turbine because it teaches you how energy works. I have also learned about solar energy and hydro energy. I think it would be good for people to look out and see their energy being produced.”

hydro kids
Understanding the hydro turbine

Ben and Harvey, also in year six, said:

“It has been fun and exciting and we have learned a lot about heating and buildings, and better ways to keep them warm. Doing things like this encourages you to do more science because it is fun and you do it with your friends.”

CAT tour
John Urry gives a tour

Gabi Ashton from the education department at CAT said:

“The focus of the trip was to give the children a hands-on experience of the sustainable technologies they’ve been learning about in the classroom. They were a wonderful group to have here up here as they seemed to really engage with with CAT’s practical approach to learning and enjoyed the challenge of using science in a constructive way to solve problems”

Other schools wishing to visit the centre for tours, workshops and activities should contact the Education Department on 01654 705983 or email: CAT will also be open from Monday and throughout the Easter holidays with daily children’s activities.

worm slide
There was also time to just have some fun

Centre for Alternative Technology launches its new ‘Climate Manifestometer’

2015 is election year and, with so many debates and promises, people need to know which political parties’ candidates will deliver the changes needed for a safe climate. The Centre for Alternative Technology’s manifestometer helps sort the greenwash from policies that would enable a zero carbon future, making a real difference to the climate.

To help voters determine which political party’s climate manifesto is up to the task, CAT has developed a ‘Manifestometer’. Its purpose is to open debate with all political parties and help the electorate decide who is up to the job, by checking if their election pledges are rooted in the scientific evidence.” Adrian Ramsay, CAT CEO




In the build-up to the General Election, each party will release its latest climate policy; CAT will be examining these party manifestos and weighing up what’s on offer against what the science tells us actually needs to happen and what our research has shown is possible. The Climate Manifestometer helps the electorate put the most vital climate questions to MPs and policy makers from each party so we can assess if their climate manifestos are fit for purpose

The window of opportunity is still open: it is time to change, or be changed.” Adrian Ramsay

Manifestometer questions include:

  • Is your party’s climate policy evidence-based? Does it accept the urgency of the evidence? If implemented, what chance will your measures offer of avoiding the crucial 2°C average global temperature rise?
  • Does your party’s policy take any account of the historic legacy of UK carbon emissions?
  • Does your policy recognise that to reach a global agreement, the long-industrialised countries such as the UK must show leadership and sign up to a more rapid decarbonisation?
  • Does your party’s climate policy recognise that there are already more fossil fuels on the books of the big energy companies that we can safely burn?
  • Does your party’s policy rise to the challenge of achieving ‘net-zero’ emissions?
  • Does your climate policy recognise the massive renewable resources available in and around the UK, and the potential for jobs and economic returns in harvesting them?

As the danger of serious climate change grows, it is vital that the elected government is held to high standards in the difficult but important task of cutting CO2 emissions. We hope our Manifestometer will be a useful tool for choosing a government that has the will to do the work.” Adrian Ramsay

To follow the work of CAT in the run-up to the General election see

Notes to Editors

The Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales is an environmental education charity that aims to ‘inform, inspire and enable’ practical solutions for sustainable living. As well as a 7-acre visitor centre demonstrating sustainability it provides educational training across the board from school children to post graduate level.

The UK is at a crucial turning point. Much of the present energy system is coming to the end of its life, and the choices made in the next couple of years will lock the UK into an energy path for decades to come. Even if we achieve our current global emissions reduction pledges, and the Climate Change Act succeeds in holding the UK to 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, it is not enough to offer a good chance of preventing dangerous climate change. The evidence demands that the next UK government immediately set us on the path to a net-zero emissions Britain. This will require a strong policy framework that enables skills development – to take advantage of new job opportunities – and ensures that everyone in the UK is supported in the transition towards net-zero carbon electricity, heating, transport and food systems.

The policies we select are crucial because the UK has put more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere per person than all but one other country in the world – for this reason it is our responsibility to lead on eliminating emissions.

New Carbon Accounting Tool Released

Aubrey Meyer developer of the framework known as Contraction and Convergence launched a new carbon accounting tool at the Centre for Alternative Technology.

The new educational resource, CBAT (short for the Carbon Budget Accounting Tool) brings to life a process of ‘Contraction and Convergence’ which helps the user explore the potential of global climate deals that are do-able safe and fair, ending up with roughly equal global rights per capita to emit.

The CBAT tool helps  understand this process by inter-actively modelling the rates of change of net greenhouse gas emissions. CBAT is aimed at everybody (experts and students alike ) to help  decide what needs to happen in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Developer Aubrey Meyer says that, “the purpose of CBAT is ‘educational’ with an emphasis on improving the understanding of what is needed for us to really achieve the UN goal of avoiding really dangerous climate change.”

Aubrey Meyer celebrates the launch of his new carbon budget accounting tool with CAT staff, students and trustee’s

CBAT has a broad base of support that includes United Nations secretary Ban Ki Moon, Caroline Lucas, Rowan Williams, Jonathon Porritt, Tony Juniper and many more.

The Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth is the UK’s leading environmental educational charity. Set up in 1975 to inform, inspire and enable practical solutions for sustainable living. CBAT was launched during the Politics and Economy module of CAT’s new masters in Sustainability and Adaptation.

Tom Barker, senior lecturer at CAT said “It is an honour for CAT to have CBAT launched here. It will be a very effective tool in the fight against climate change and a brilliant opportunity for our students to get to grips with a new program to better understand climate accounting.”



Renew Wales wins community category at Wales Green Energy Awards

Renew Wales, a project all about supporting communities developing renewable energy projects in Wales, has won an award in the coveted Wales Green Energy Awards. CAT is a partner in the Renew Wales project, providing training and support. Peter Davis, Sustainable Development Commissioner for Wales commented on the project:

Kit Jones, Media Officer at the Centre for Alternative Technology said:

“Over the next few decades we are going to have to completely overhaul energy infrastructure across Wales. There is a massive opportunity to create a new renewable infrastructure which is widely owned within the local community. This would bring many benefits to the people of Wales. Community Energy is really important for making sure technologies like wind, solar and hydro power which are delivering environmental benefits are also delivering social benefits. We are really pleased that this is being recognised by the Wales Green Energy Awards, and to be part of the project which is leading the way.”