We know we must! The climate science couldn’t be clearer. In Paris the world must plan to rapidly move beyond fossil fuels and eliminate our greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century.
We know we can! CAT’s new ‘Who’s Getting Ready for Zero?’ report offers robust scenarios from across the globe that clearly demonstrate that we can reach zero emissions with existing technologies.
The media services we offer are:
Spokespersons for CAT and the Zero Carbon Britain project include Adrian Ramsay, CEO of CAT and Paul Allen, Zero Carbon Britain Project Coordinator.
Expert information and commentary on all aspects of sustainable technologies, including the policy environment. Areas of expertise include renewable energy, sustainable architecture, land use and transport.
Case studies of and contacts for pioneering projects that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, tackle fuel poverty and provide clean green energy.
High quality images of sustainable technologies in action.
Our Twitter and Facebook feeds will be closely following events both inside and outside the climate talks. We will be using the opportunity of the climate talks to showcase decarbonisation scenarios from across the globe on our social media channels.
Interviews in Welsh language
Get in contact if you would like any more information firstname.lastname@example.org/ +44 (0)7709 696 599
On Sunday the 29th of November the People’s March for Climate Justice and Jobs will be taking place in London. The Centre for Alternative Technology will be there along with staff and supporters to join with thousands of people taking part in this global day of action.
If you would like to meet us in London for the Climate Change Demonstration, CAT will be marching with the Zero Carbon bloc, meeting point D. Nearest tube is Hyde Park Corner or Marble Arch. We will be assembling from 12pm onwards, ready to march at 1pm.
We will also be participating in the climate demonstration taking place in Aberystwyth on the 28th of November at 1pm, meeting at Plascrug Avenue.
The Centre for Alternative Technology has put out a statement in response to Amber Rudd’s energy policy speech made on the 18th November 2015.
The CEO Adrian Ramsay said;
“We wish we could rejoice in the news that UK coal-fired power stations
will be closed by 2025, as this is an important step in the right direction
in the fight against climate change. However yesterday’s speech by Amber
Rudd, Secretary of State for Climate Change and Energy leaves little to
celebrate. Building a new generation of gas-fired power stations locks
the UK into the continual burning of fossil fuels, at a time when the
UK Government needs to be planning to phase out fossil fuels and
supporting clean, green power generation provided by renewable energy.
Ahead of the Paris climate talks we need to see clear leadership from
Amber Rudd in supporting renewables and phasing out fossil fuels. The
climate science couldn’t be clearer: the world must plan to rapidly move
beyond fossil fuels and eliminate our greenhouse gas emissions by
We know we can do this: CAT’s new ‘Who’s Getting Ready for Zero’ report
offers robust scenarios from across the globe that clearly demonstrate that
we can reach zero emissions with existing technologies.”
· Between April and June in 2015 the UK produced 25% of its energy from renewable sources, outstripping coal and nuclear for the 1st time. (Guardian 24/9/2015)
·Despite the great progress in the production of energy from renewable sources, proposed government cuts to renewables subsidies threaten their continued growth and development
· The UK government pays £6 billion annually in fossil fuel subsidies compared with £3.5 billion of subsidies to the renewables industry- a figure that is currently projected to decline (Independent 12/11/2015)
· A recent report from Good Energy demonstrates that wind and solar brought down the wholesale cost of electricity by £1.55 billion in 2014.
· As CAT’s flagship Zero Carbon Britain research project has shown, we can reduce the amount of energy we need power through energy efficiency measure and meet that reduced energy demand through a mix of renewables, including onshore, offshore wind, hydro, solar, biomass and geo thermal.
Graduates from the Centre for Alternative Technology celebrate their academic successes at ceremony.
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).
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.
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.
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.
“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.
CAT’s External Relations Officer, Paul Allen reports from his trip to Spain.
One of the things Catalonia and Wales have in common is that they are both active members of The Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development, or nrg4SD for short. Established in 2002 at the World Summit of Johannesburg, this non-profit international organisation acts as the voice of over 50 sub-national governments at global level, and will be an active player in the run up to the UN climate conference in Paris. As the train taking me to present “Who’s Getting Ready for Zero” report for the British Council in Madrid passes through Barcelona, a day-long stop over offered a good opportunity for Peter Harper and myself to share our work with both the Catalonia Government and the Barcelona City Council.
In the morning I met with Josep Enric Llebot, Secretary of Environment and the Salvador Samitier, Director of the Office on Climate Change of the Catalan Government where I presented copies of the ‘Who’s Getting Ready for Zero’ report. The Office on Climate Change are responsible for promoting and coordinating mitigation and adaptation strategies and plans for Catalonia, based on the commitments made by the State and the European Union. Our presentation was well received as Catalan Government clearly gets the need to change, and there was enthusiasm about pulling together a local team to begin to develop a rapid decarbonisation model for Catalonia. They were also keen to explore our invitation to attend CAT’s side-event at the UN summit in Paris.
Whilst I was in the area I was also keen to meet with various departments of Barcelona’s new City Council. Earlier his year Spain’s progressive activists made the move from ‘city square’ to the ‘city hall’ as municipal and regional elections saw the people’s anti-poverty activist Ada Colau elected as mayor of Barcelona. Colau’s party won 11 of the 41 seats on the city council, meaning that she will need to form key alliances in order to govern, but it is a very powerful shift. Her policy commitments included plans to return decision-making in the city to the people, to end home evictions, increase public housing and better distribute the city’s wealth.
Despite the light rain, we walked back from our morning meeting along the busy ‘diagonal’ route which crosses the mostly grid based road system. As we approached the centre, we came across a large group of citizens protesting in a powerful but peacefully way outside a major bank. Our hosts explained to us the problem is that in Spain: the 3.4m homes that lie vacant – amounting to a third of all empty homes across Europe – whilst around 95 homes a day were seized by the banks last year after residents defaulted on their mortgage payments – and under Spain’s draconian laws they must continue paying off the loan even after the home has been repossessed. Promoted by the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages group which Colau co-founded before becoming Mayor, a law allowing Barcelona to crack down on banks with empty homes was passed by the previous city council in 2014, but was never applied. Ada Colau has clearly signalled that the right to housing is one of her mayoral priorities and, supported by street level action, unless empty homes are made available to those who need them, it is expected that official action against the bank may be on the cards for the coming weeks.
My particular interest was how the ‘radical progressive’ approach of Barcelona’s new Council could help raise ambition at the UN climate conference in Paris, so I had asked my Barcelona based colleagues to arrange an evening ‘working session’ on Zero Carbon Scenarios with people involved with the ‘Barcelona Declaration on Climate Change’ which the city plans to make public before the UN Climate Summit in December.
This session allowed us to present our experience on developing and collating Zero Carbon scenarios, after which participants from various departments had the opportunity to ask questions or make comments in order to help in the development of their Barcelona Declaration on Climate Change. The event was held at a local environmental education centre called ‘Fàbrica del Sol’ or ‘Sunshine factory’. A renovated gas-works, the building was introduced to us as if it were a living organism, integrated into the environment and supported environmental measures such as the collection and use of rainwater, a pergola for solar collectors and photovoltaic panels, and natural ventilation. La Fàbrica del Sol certainly seemed like an active space for exchanging ideas about the resources and best practices needed to meet the challenges of sustainability.
The meeting was well attended, and my presentation of Zero Carbon Britain and the Who’s getting to Zero report opened up passionate conversations with representatives from Barcelona Energy Agency, Barcelona City Council and the Department of Transport. The Energy Agency could see the potential for developing energy scenarios, as their role is to ensure the city achieves optimum standards in its use and management of local energy resources and to help Barcelona meet its environmental and energy commitments. The Department of Transport was also keen to explore ways of overcoming barriers. The Catalan Government released an Action Plan to reducing public transportation prices on the most polluted days by up to 50% to fight climate change and improve air quality within Barcelona’s Metropolitan Transport Area. This is hoped to be in place between 2015 and 2016, to coincide with the launch of the new transportation card similar to London’s Oyster Card.
We were honoured that Janet Sanz, Deputy Mayor of Barcelona City Council in the area of Ecology, Urban and Mobility and Eva Herrero Commissioner on Ecology both made time to attend our seminar. Their commitment to climate was clear, and we were assured that the new Mayor Ada Colau would be present in Paris – so I gave printed copies of Zero Carbon Britain and ‘Who’s Getting Ready for Zero’ for her to read in advance of the Summit.
A consortium of Machynlleth based businesses and organisations met on Friday 23rd of October with Glyn Davies, MP for Montgomeryshire to urge him to show support for the renewable energy industry after a series of announcements from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) which could devastate the local economy and lead to the loss of jobs.
On the day that the consultation into the Feed-in-Tariff’s scheme closed Glyn Davies said “ I wholeheartedly support local renewable companies particularly those involved with the solar power sector and am concerned by the loss of jobs in an area like Machynlleth where it has always been difficult to attract other jobs.”
Phil Horton Managing Director of Dulas said “In Dulas alone we risk significant job losses as a result of UK Government decisions, which would have a devastating effect on the local rural economy. These jobs are at risk as a direct result of the Government’s recent and planned changes that impact wind, solar and hydro projects at all scales, including community schemes. There are few alternative opportunities for engineering and consultancy professionals in the area and the majority would be forced to relocate should their jobs be lost.”
A combination of factors including the proposed changes to the Feed-in-Tariff scheme and removal of onshore wind subsidies means that local Mid-Wales renewable companies may be forced to make job cuts and communities will potentially lose out on the community benefit of renewable energy schemes.
Paul Burrell, Director of Anemos Renewables said: “Wind energy is the most commercially viable form of renewables, providing jobs, generating power and revenue and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it should be flourishing yet we are seeing the wholesale dismantling of a promising industry.”
Jon Andrews, Director of Clear Solar said: “There is now clear evidence demonstrating that energy generated from renewable sources is actually driving down the wholesale cost of electricity. I appreciate that the Government is trying to protect consumers pockets by reducing/removing subsidies but I believe this will have the opposite effect in the longer term. The local economy needs these threatened jobs and the UK needs renewable energy.”
Meeting Glyn Davies were representatives from the Centre for Alternative Technology, Dulas, Clear Solar and Anemos. The four entities have a combined annual turnover of 15 million pounds. Across Wales 2203 jobs are at risk if the proposed changes to renewables subsidies go ahead as planned.
Adrian Ramsay CEO of the Centre for Alternative Technology said “Ahead of the climate talks in Paris this December, the UK Government should be showing commitment and leadership in the fight against climate change. A strong renewables industry is central to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, providing lasting jobs and supporting the local economy.”
The MP said that he expects to discuss the issue with Ministers, Amber Rudd, Andrea Leadsom and Lord Bourne again in the near future.
The end of the government consultation into FiT’s is on the 23rd of October. If you like us are concerned about proposed changes then sign up for one or all of the following campaigns to raise awareness and lobby MP’s to reconsider proposals.
A brand new campaign, launched on the 22nd of September, you can sign up to it here, if you are tweeting about FiT’s using the #keepfits hashtag.
Check out this new report by CAT partners Good Energy which shows how renewables are actually driving down the wholesale price of electricity.
The solar trade association has announced the £1 to save solar plan. By putting just £1 on electricity bills in 2019 the necessary revenue can be generated to ensure the survival of the solar industry.
Friend of the Earth are running a campaign called Save Our Solar you can send a letter to your MP and take part in demonstrations at party political conferences.
Regen SW are organising a national day of action on the 16th of October to meet with your MP and express concern about proposed changes to FiT’s- download the lobby pack here
The Feed in Tariff 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.
On the 27th of August, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced a review of the FiT scheme proposing a set of measures to 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 as early as January 2016.
Reaction from across the Renewables Industry has been one of dismay, with 1000’s of jobs threatened. Howard Johns, author of Energy Revolution – a book about successful community energy initiatives around the world published this week said;
“The Government’s latest proposals to cut the Feed in Tariffs will as currently suggested do irreparable damage to Britain’s rapidly expanding renewable energy industry. In particular, many groups of hard working people striving with their neighbours and friends to develop and build local renewable energy systems will be stopped in their tracks at the eleventh hour by these careless proposals.”
Emma Bridge, CEO of Community Energy England added:
“If the Government’s community energy strategy launched in January 2014 is to be worth the paper it is written on, then the Government must retain workable incentives that support the community energy sector.
Commenting further, Adrian Ramsay, CEO of The Centre for Alternative Technology added:
“We know that it is technically possible by 2030 for the UK to create a prosperous economy that generates zero carbon emissions by putting a major focus on energy efficiency measures and by and by using 100% renewable energy. It is paramount in this year of key climate negotiations that the UK government shows initiative and leadership to deliver this crucial objective.”
Around the world, in major cities, people will be coming together to demand that our governments take action to save our beautiful planet.
Across the UK, people will be working together to make this the biggest, most poignant demonstration yet, and our unified voice will resonate across the globe to call for a serious change in policy attitudes towards the climate.
The Centre for Alternative Technology alongside 100’s of other organisations will be participating in the climate demonstration. With the banner Making it Happen, we want to raise awareness of the many solutions there are to climate issues and say its time to go beyond talking, we must now make it happen.
For some years now I’ve been developing the teaching in ‘Green’ or (possibly better described as) ‘sustainable’ graphic design techniques as part of the Graphic Design and Multimedia degree course at the University of Worcester. In order to broaden the experiences and learning of students in this area further, I’ve also been developing both links and lecture visits with other specialist organisations outside of the University.
One of these organisations is the Worcester Resource Exchange – a ‘scrap store’ of post industrial materials allied to the Duckworth Trust and based in the city. We’ve also developed links with the larger Centre for Alternative Technology (or ‘CAT’ as it’s often known as in shorthand) based in Machynlleth, mid Wales. I firmly believe as a lecturer that not all learning takes place within the classroom and that facilitating students to both engage with and see other experiences on site at such places can be hugely beneficial to them too. This comment doesn’t just relate to the students’ learning experiences, but rather it also relates to the galvanising effect on a cohort that an occasional trip or visit outside of the University can also achieve.
Green Graphic Design
The Green Design module’s link with CAT has been evolving year on year now for nearly a decade. Students have benefited from a range of new perspectives that the staff and facilities on site there have provided. In particular I want to highlight their ground-breaking latest research into how we might practically start to ‘decarbonize’ the British economy – which is called ‘Zero Carbon Britain’ (again known in shorthand as ‘ZCB’). This body of findings is the output of many years of painstaking research and analysis by specialists at CAT. It compares where we are now with resource and power use and where we could potentially be – albeit if we started to make small, practical changes to the ways in which we live. Now this might immediately worry readers of this article, who are probably imagining us at this point going back to the horse and cart – but CAT’s vision is anything but this. They see a modern-day society that is less oil and gas reliant and instead is more efficient with it’s use of fuels and one that has also invested more in diversifying heat and power generation utilising more renewables and other related technology.
Closed loop cycles
Linking with such external organisations brings various additional benefits to students and we’ve now adopted a core set of considerations that focus around working towards the core idea of a ‘closed loop’ of product development & usage. Closed loop cycles are also a key theme within CAT’s own ZCB research too if we’re to effectively lower our resource uses. In practical terms, this asks students to look at a lowered, ‘cleverer’ and more sustainable use of resources in their packaging solutions for their ‘live’ clients. Crucially, it also means that students are introduced to the idea of a ‘second use’ for their packaging concepts too.
Their latest project for regional sustainable brewer Oldfields Orchard Cider (Hobsons) actively encourages them to seek a follow-up use for their packaging once it has safely delivered the goods/bottles to the intended user. This could take one of many forms and in previous projects students have designed their packaging so it easily dismantles as traditional pub games, into small recipe books, and in one case rice paper spice tabs to be put directly into cooking. While there’s often no ‘ideal’ second use solutions, the idea is that students experiment and suggest additional ‘value added’ features for their packaging concepts that either delay or even stop the pack going into the waste systems by ultimately transforming it into another appropriate and useful artefact. While this idea isn’t brand new, the industry appears to be slowly changing and there are more and more sustainable design and packaging precedents appearing now that students are actively bearing in mind for their own concepts.
CAT Educational Lectures
Green Design students were fascinated by CAT’s ZCB research at a recent lecture and workshop on site in the unique Sheppard Lecture Theatre – one of the largest ‘rammed-earth’ structures in Europe. CAT Educational lecturer Ann MacGarry discussed many of the research’s salient findings within their ZCB proposals.. The debates to be had in this area clearly impacted on many of the students – who had only seen overviews to date but nothing in this in depth. Reactions were broad and when audio-interviewed en route back to Worcester, student comments included:
With (the concept of) ‘Zero Carbon Britain’, I really do think it’s achievable – but I think it’s only going to be possible by getting politicians to ‘pull their fingers out’ – it won’t happen without new legislation.. There’s only so much individuals can do really.
I found the visit and lecture really interesting, a lot of people talk about sustainability and low impact living but CAT seems to actually ‘do it’. I thought their ethics were really interesting too – not taking funding from big business or being biased or in anyone’s pockets.
Despite the broad-ranging nature of the day’s lecture, students could clearly see how these additional layers of information and context could widen their thinking with their own sustainable packaging projects ongoing. Third year graphic design student Jimi O’Doherty adds:
It (the lecture) was broad in nature – but I think much of the information was transferable and I’ll be bearing some of it in mind when I’m thinking about my further packaging idea.
Project focus & themes
We are looking forward to visiting CAT in Autumn 2015 and are planning for the group to develop a set of e-resources for other students (.pdf e-book) around the best usage, simple recipes for and top tips for maintainance of an earth oven.. Students will also be required to develop a multi-use working prototype ‘assistive 3D artifact’ out of suitable materials that supports this design brief (we were initially thinking a re-usable pizza plate with simple recipe/instructions on it or possibly flour measuring device with a similar multi-use)..