Scale up, speed up, start up; inspiring change in 2019

Our 40th anniversary year could prove to be momentous

7 January 2019

Will 2019 be a genuine breakthrough year when we see a great acceleration  in action to cut UK carbon emissions?  We’re going to stick our neck out and say yes.

For all the policy deadlock and distraction in Whitehall and Westminster, there are signs that the sorts of things we have been doing for many years here at CSE may be about to become much more widespread – even ‘normal’.

We say, ‘Bring it on’.

The year 2019 is our 40th anniversary. And we take heart from Carl Jung’s words: “Life really does begin at 40. Up until then, you’re just doing research”.

So, yes, we’re optimistic about the year ahead. But why?

Two reasons.

The first is what we may all look back on as a stunning political tipping point: the growing roll call of local authorities which have followed Bristol council’s unanimous vote in favour of declaring a climate emergency and aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. The vote was triggered by Green Party councillors as a response to the latest IPCC report on the risks of climate change. To date, Bristol has been joined by the Greater London authority and Forest of Dean and Stroud councils, in all cases with unanimous votes in favour by all parties. More councils are likely to follow. 

In the minds of some, the intention is to establish a new local carbon emissions target. That approach typically triggers a swathe of technocratic work detailing how the target might be achieved - if at all. The analysts and consultants are called in (again) and everyone waits to find out what the plan is.

To us, by contrast, the climate emergency motion’s intent is not to stimulate more analysis but to inspire – and give political backing to – stronger action sooner by more people. To scale up, speed up and, in some cases, start up the things we know need to happen and know how to do.

The second reason for optimism is the initiatives we’re currently working on which will really come into their own in 2019. We’re anticipating a prosperous new year for …

  • Futureproof, our new market development programme to accelerate the rate of low carbon housing retrofit by home-owners in the West of England. Supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Futureproof will orchestrate the simultaneous growth of householder demand and a supply chain of trustworthy, high quality contractors.
  • Next Generation and OpenLV, two major projects supporting community energy groups to develop sustainable business models for renewable and smart energy projects in a fast-changing market which no longer offers subsidies.
  • Our neighbourhood planning support programme that is enabling communities to establish a clearer picture of their own low carbon future and a plan to realise it.
  • THERMOS, which will deliver sophisticated online tools to optimise the design and use of district heating and cooling networks, reducing costs and revealing new opportunities to improve system efficiency and cut carbon emissions.
  • And, in keeping with the focus on social justice that has been a hallmark of CSE’s approach since 1979, we’ll be building on our extensive work to ensure no one gets left behind in the transition to a smarter energy system – the costs and benefits must be shared fairly. 

Is our optimism misplaced?  Possibly, but we’ve been a glass-half-full kind of organisation for forty years and we’re not going to change now.

And we’re going to live 2019 with the aim of proving Carl Jung right.

We’ll be marking our 40th anniversary year in a variety of ways during 2019. Sign up to our e-news to keep up to date with our plans.

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