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Common Wealth in Wales Toward a free, equal, mutual and sustainable society Wednesday 21st April, Torfaen People’s Centre, Pontypool Dr. Steven Harris,

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Presentation on theme: "Common Wealth in Wales Toward a free, equal, mutual and sustainable society Wednesday 21st April, Torfaen People’s Centre, Pontypool Dr. Steven Harris,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Common Wealth in Wales Toward a free, equal, mutual and sustainable society Wednesday 21st April, Torfaen People’s Centre, Pontypool Dr. Steven Harris, Science Shops Wales, University of Glamorgan

2 Common Wealth in Wales The Earth is an Integrated System

3 Common Wealth in Wales The Earth System is in Crisis “Over the last two decades a new imperative has come to dominate environmental concerns. With a rapidly increasing understanding of the nature of Earth’s life support system, a growing awareness has emerged that human activities are exerting an ever-accelerating influence on aspects of Earth System functioning upon which the welfare and the future of human societies depend.” IGBP Global Change and the Earth System: A Planet Under Pressure (2004)

4 Common Wealth in Wales The Global Picture - Recent Studies Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations: –Reports on food and sustainability (2004-8) The International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme: – Global Change and the Earth System: A Planet Under Pressure (2004) The UNEP Millennium Ecosystems Assessment: –Living Beyond our Means (2005) –Ecosystems and Human Well-Being (2005) United Nations Environment Programme: –Global Environment Outlook 4: environment for development (2007) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: – Synthesis Report of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (2007);

5 Common Wealth in Wales Findings The global atmosphere is warming - as a result, the global climate is changing. These changes are happening more rapidly, and are likely to be more extreme, than recently anticipated. One to two-thirds of all species of plants, animals, and other organisms may die out over the coming decades. Many of the natural resources and services upon which humanity depends are severely depleted or degraded Billions of people around the world lead lives marred by thirst, hunger, poverty and conflict.

6 A Prosperous Way Down? Exploring Green Economic Futures for Wales A Common Cause - Us All studies clearly identify human activity as a primary cause of the Earth System Crisis The 20 th Century has seen exponential growth in human populations, made possible by the industrial-scale exploitation of natural resources and services – particularly fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) The globalised industrial economy is committed to continuing growth in production and consumption Growth demands ever-increasing energy and resource inputs Growth results in increasing levels of pollution, resource depletion, species loss and ecosystem degradation

7 Common Wealth in Wales Increasing rates of change in human activity since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (1) International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (2004). Global Change and the Earth System: A Planet Under Pressure

8 Common Wealth in Wales Increasing rates of change in human activity since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (2) International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (2004). Global Change and the Earth System: A Planet Under Pressure

9 Common Wealth in Wales Global-scale changes in the Earth System as a result of the dramatic increase in human activity (1) International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (2004). Global Change and the Earth System: A Planet Under Pressure

10 Common Wealth in Wales Global-scale changes in the Earth System as a result of the dramatic increase in human activity (2) International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (2004). Global Change and the Earth System: A Planet Under Pressure

11 Common Wealth in Wales “…our economy is killing the Earth” “This is the logic of free-market capitalism: the economy must grow continuously or face an unpalatable collapse. With the environmental situation reaching crisis point, however, it is time to stop pretending that mindlessly chasing economic growth is compatible with sustainability. Figuring out an alternative to this doomed model is now a priority..” From Why politicians dare not limit economic growth by Tim Jackson, pp. 42-3. New Scientist, 16 October 2008

12 Growth Addiction Views humans as individualistic, tribal, competitive Views nature as a resource: separate, infinitely exploitable Celebrates benefits of technology, ignores costs Values present (much) more highly than the future Disproportionally benefits those with capital, increasing the concentration of asset ownership and further widening gaps between rich and poor Has structural ‘lock-in’ to existing economic system: –Money as Debt –Return on Investment –Employment Is utterly dependent on concentrated, high value energy inputs Common Wealth in Wales

13 A Local Example… 3 Planet Wales Wales’ 2003 ecological footprint was 5.16 global hectares per person (X 3 global carrying capacity of 1.8 gha pp) The footprint of Wales has increased at an average rate of 1.5% per year between 1990 and 2003. This closely mirrors the growth in Gross Value Added (GVA) in Wales over the same period Between 1990-2008 energy consumption increased by 5.1% - there were decreases in industrial energy consumption but large increases in domestic (12%) and transport (21%) energy consumption If the historic growth in footprint were to continue at rate of 1.5% a year, this would result in an ecological footprint 20% higher than the 2003 figure (6.19gha/capita) in 2020 E. Dawkins, A. Paul, J. Barrett, J. Minx and K. Scott (2008). Wales’ Ecological Footprint - Scenarios to 2020. Stockholm: Stockholm Environment Institute

14 Growth Depends on Energy Common Wealth in Wales There has also been a very close relationship between the rate of growth of world output and the rate of growth of its consumption of oil.

15 Growth Creates Pollution Common Wealth in Wales The link between economic activity and global warming: The rate of increase in world Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has moved very closely in step with Carbon Dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use.

16 Benefits of Degrowth Longest recession in UK since records began – economy shrank by 6% since 2008 UK emissions of Co2 fell by 9.8% - from 533m tonnes in 2008 to 481m tonnes in 2009 Overall output of the six main greenhouse gases fell by 8.6%. Bigger reductions in one year than all the other years of Labour government put together According to DECC, main cause reductions in energy consumption as economy contracted Globally, the International Energy Agency estimated world CO2 emissions to have fallen by around 3% in 2009 - only the fourth recorded fall in the past 50 years – on average global emissions have grown by 3% year on year. Common Wealth in Wales

17 Efficiency is not the Answer Research has demonstrated that that technological progress that increases the efficiency with which a resource is used, tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource This is the famous ‘Jevons Paradox’, first noted with regard to coal consumption - an increase in the efficiency with which a resource (e.g., fuel) is used causes a decrease in the price of that resource when measured in terms of what it can achieve (e.g., work). A decrease in the price of a good or service increases the quantity demanded. This type of ‘Rebound Effect’ has three aspects: 1. Increased fuel efficiency lowers the cost of consumption, and hence increases the consumption of that good because of the substitution effect. 2. Decreased cost of the good enables increased household consumption of other goods and services, increasing the consumption of the resource embodied in those goods and services. 3. New technology creates new production possibilities in and increases economic growth Common Wealth in Wales

18 What’s to be Done? Macro-level reforms are possible, e.g. –Design for ‘steady-state’ economy –Decouple money creation from debt –cap and trade carbon emissions –Massive investment in renewables –‘green’ taxes’ on polluter pays principle –tax land value –provide statutory citizen’s income But politicians and policy-makers ‘locked into’ growth at all costs – complete culture change required Power of corporations, direct and through advertising So… real change must begin at the grassroots and margins Common Wealth in Wales

19 Reclaiming the Commons Ecosystems science has shown us that the great interlocking systems of nature are our true common wealth, providing the conditions for all life on Earth The Commons are resources required by all, without which human activities are impossible such as woodlands, atmosphere, fresh water, fisheries and grazing land The commons can also be understood to include the products of collective human culture: art, science, religion; ‘public goods’ such as public space, education, healthcare; and essential infrastructure, such as roads, power transmission and telecommunications networks. There is also a genetic commonwealth –seeds and crop strains, the human genome. In theory, all should have equal rights of access to the commons Enclosure or ‘accumulation by dispossession is the process by which the commons are transformed into private property is termed enclosure Privatization and commodification of public assets is a process of transferring property such as buildings, land, and water from public to private ownership, providing new means of making private profits and driving economic growth. The enclosure of the commons has been called “the revolution of the rich against the poor.” Common Wealth in Wales

20 The Real Common Wealth of Wales Cultivated & grazing land – for food, fuel and dwellings Uncultivated land – for biodiversity & ecosystems services Woodlands for timber and fuel Wind, Wave and Solar power for energy Fresh Water Roads, railways, power and telecomms networks Our healthcare system and infrastructure People – Skills, History & Culture Common Wealth in Wales

21 Solutions - Frameworks Cooperatives Social Enterprises Community Finance Initiatives Credit Unions & Microfinance Community Currencies Timebanks and Barter schemes Community Land Trusts Common Wealth in Wales

22 Solutions - Actions Community Renewable Energy/microgeneration Projects Community/localised Food Production Community-supported agriculture Community-supported Schools Communiversities Low-impact development Common Wealth in Wales

23 Wales – People & Economy 2009 population 2,993,000 1,316,000 or 69.4% of those of working age were employed (UK average 72.5%) - average full-time earnings in 2008 £498 per week 8.1% unemployed, up from 5.6% in 2008. GVA (Gross Value Added) of the Welsh economy in 2007 was £44.3 billion, around £14,880 per head, 25% lower than the overall figure for the UK Gross disposable household income (GDHI) in 2007 for Wales was £37.5 billion or £12,574 per head of population. This represented 87.8 per cent of the UK figure, down from 88.0 in 2006 Poverty in Wales affects all age groups (Kenway & Palmer, 2007). There were more working-age adults in poverty than children and pensioners in poverty combined, with poverty among disabled working-age adults higher than a decade previously 10% of 16- to 18-year-olds not in employment, education or training. Child poverty in Wales 28%. Around 1% of children in situations likely to lead to serious disadvantage Wales is among the poorest and slowest growing of the 10 regional economies of the UK Common Wealth in Wales

24 Wales – Renewable Energy Sustainable renewable energy potential to 2020/2025 Current Electricity consumption 23 TWhr pa Potential total capacity 48 TWhr pa Wales has potential to become net electricity exporter Source: WAG. (2010). A Low Carbon Revolution Common Wealth in Wales

25 Wales - Land & People The total land area of Wales is around 2.1 million hectares 1.5 million hectares are used for agriculture, 85% grassland and rough grazing. In 2004, land use in Wales consisted of 62% permanent grass (1010000 ha), 23% rough grazing (383000 ha), only 11% arable land (177000 ha) and 4% woodland and other lands including set-aside (64000 ha) Currently around 3 million people live in Wales Overall population density 140 people per Km 2 UK average 246/Km 2. Population is unevenly distributed in Wales e.g. –Torfaen has 717/Km2 and Blaenau Gwent 631/ Km 2 –Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire 74/ Km 2 –Powys 45 Km 2. We have a lot of space! Used effectively, grassland and marginal, rough grazing could be among our greatest assets Common Wealth in Wales

26 The Green Valleys Project Brecon Beacons National Park Community Interest Company - Low Risk - High Return seed projects Support, advice and finance packages for local groups 5 local groups: Talybont, Crucorney, Dyffryn Crawnon, Cwmdu and Llangattock Community Microhydro projects: Dyffryn Crawnon 16kW; Talgarth 3.5 kW; Cwmdu 7.5kW; Llangattock – 3 kW, 6.9kW, 15kW and 16kW; Crucorney – 8kW; Llandeussant – 11 in development phase By 2012 community hydros will be generating over £100k per annum for reinvestment in low carbon projects 155 homes reduced carbon emissions by 20% Community owned electric cars 2 community woodland groups established Setting up community & commercial lending facilities Establishing Upland Restoration Fund to safeguard ecosystem services Long-term aim to make National Park a carbon-negative region Common Wealth in Wales

27 Cwmdeithas Cwm Arian Hermon, Glogue and Llanfyrnach, Pembrokeshire 200 houses and farms around 3 villages Local Community Forum –all voluntary Pub closed – bought Marquee and reopened! In 2003 formed CLT – raised £137,000 for affordable housing Opposed closure of local primary school - failed Developed and agreed Community Action Plan 2004 Formed Community Cooperative – raised £65,000 in share issue Formed Credit Union and made small loans to buy shares – now £0.5m in savings Celtic Blue Rock Community Festival – non-profit, all proceeds to charity/community funds - 10,000 attend each year School buildings purchased, now Community Resource & Conference Centre hosting IT facilities and 3 business startups Plans to build small industrial units 2009 gained funding to install 2 community wind turbines (1.4 MW) to generate income for community investment fund Now planning to reopen school, employ own teachers Common Wealth in Wales

28 Cwm Harry Land Trust Newtown, Powys Social Enterprise - charity & company limited by guarantee - employs 10 Aims to demonstrate a sustainable, ‘closed loop’ system of food production and food-waste management Collects food waste from 10,000 local households and businesses Processes waste – produces compost & energy through anaerobic digestion Produces food locally – on own land and through network of local suppliers Distributes local, seasonal and organic food through Veggie-bag service Common Wealth in Wales

29 Bro Dyfi Community Renewables Machynlleth, Powys Est. 2001 - community energy co-operative registered under Industrial and Provident Societies Acts –one vote per shareholder 59 shareholders, shares £100, max holding £1000 Only institutional shareholder the Energy Savings Trust Dividends from EST's shares are put into a Community Energy Saving Fund, for reinvestment locally Installed 75 kilowatt Vestas wind turbine at Cilgwyn, 2003 - Produces c 163 megawatt-hours (163,000 units) pa First dividend to shareholders, 2004 Now installing new 500kW wind turbine on Mynydd Glandulas – c 1,000 megawatt-hours pa Power purchase agreement (PPA) with Good Energy – will yield more than £100 per MW hr generated Common Wealth in Wales

30 Lammas Eco-village Glandwr, Pembrokeshire (1) 76 acres of pasture and woodland Developing 9 eco-smallholdings, a community hub building and a seasonal campsite Completely independent of mains services - microhydro, biomass, rainwater harvesting and a spring) from the land. Designs for the houses include a 4-unit terrace, an earth sheltered house, straw bale houses, a cob house, and more. All houses being self-built with materials sourced from the site, and will blend into the landscape Surrounding smallholdings will produce food and support land-based enterprises: basketry, smoked hams, hazelnuts, woodland products, wool crafts and medicinal herbal preparations. Common Wealth in Wales

31 Lammas Eco-village Glandwr, Pembrokeshire (2) Transformation of land use through Permaculture –intensive horticulture, heavily reliant on human skilled input, which sets out to create artificial, self-sustaining ecosystems which produce food and energy yeilds for humans Has the potential to revolutionise perceptions of the Welsh countryside 76 acres that Lammas has purchased was supporting approximately 195 ewes, bringing in a yearly income of approximately £2,500 - a small percentage of one farming family’s income Lammas year cash flow forecasts and productivity accounts suggest that after a 5 year establishment period, the land will produce the equivalent of approximately £108,000 land- based produce per annum - a living for nine families Common Wealth in Wales


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