Our 40th anniversary conference in the words of attendees

19 June 2019

Last Thursday, over 200 people came together from a wide variety of industries – from policy makers to energy operators, and environmental researchers to community activists.

The event – Inspiring our sustainable future: accelerating change, scaling up action – marked CSEs 40th anniversary, but the aim wasn’t to look back, it was to look forward together at how we can accelerate the change needed to bring about our sustainable energy future.

There was a resounding feeling of pride and optimism from the CSE staff who attended – pride in being part of an inspiring community of individuals working towards the common goal of a smart, fair and sustainable energy system; and optimism that this community clearly has the passion, capability and energy to drive change forward.

And it was busy on social media. Check out the 40th anniversary twitter hashtag #CSEfuture.

But as we’re probably rather biased, we thought who better to tell the story than those who participated. In italics below are just a few comments from the mass of feedback we received from attendees on the day (anonymously of course).

We heard from an incredible line-up of speakers who focused discussion around three different perspectives on the challenges of accelerating change towards a sustainable energy future: people, places and systems (see agenda).

People

Speaking on the theme of people, and empowering everyone to take action and support sustainable energy, were Dr Adam Corner from Climate Outreach, Meghna Tewari from Ofgem, CSE’s Ian Preston, Rosemary Kelly of CSE’s Bright Green Future programme and Jasmine Ketibuah-Foley, Ujima Green & Black Ambassador.

Jasmine’s description of the lack of inclusivity in the environmental movement and challenges faced by people from BME backgrounds resonated with many in the audience. In fact it was so well received, we asked Jasmine to let us publish her presentation in a guest blog, which you can read here.

17 year old Rosemary Kelly delivered a young person’s view on the scale of the environmental crisis, and took the room by storm: “we’re not being over-dramatic, we’re being foresighted”.

“Jazz and Rosemary opened eyes!”
“Rosemary was so inspiring! I loved a lot of the speakers and all female panel.”
“[I enjoyed] Jazz’s presentation: hidden privilege and how to see the world through other eyes.”
“Need for diversity and inclusivity…today has made me realise how crucial it is.”

The tempo was fast, with short, thought-provoking contributions followed by opportunities for the audience to share insights and explore key issues with others on their table.

“The format with range of speakers and range of guests at the tables - steered a very interesting and multidimensional discussion."
“Table organisation and discussion made people talk to ‘new’ people rather than sticking with colleagues."

Places

Talking about shaping places for sustainable energy were Dr Becky Willis from IGov University of Exeter, CSE’s Rachel Coxcoon, Dr Barbara Hammond MBE from Low Carbon Hub, Jane Wildblood of Bath & North East Somerset Council and Polly Billington from UK100.

Their talks served to highlight the intensity of work going on at community level and the importance of local involvement in shaping the energy transition for the place they live.

“Superb speakers throughout the day, especially great to hear the passion from Jazz, Rose, Jane and Polly.”
“Local initiatives are amazingly diverse.”
“The all-female panel after lunch - outstanding.”
“The wealth of expertise and diversity of organisations that are tackling the climate and ecological crisis.”

Systems

Moving on to focus on rapidly decarbonising our energy system in a way that works for everyone were, Felicity Jones from Everoze, Alison Sleightholm from Western Power Distribution, CSE’s Joshua Thumim and Dr Joanne Wade OBE of the Association for Decentralised Energy.

Their talks raised the crucial points that a decarbonised energy system will require decentralised, bottom-up decision making….

“That community and public participation is key and a resource to be used and it is a necessity if we are to achieve carbon neutrality. Less cockpitism!”
“Need to put people first in decision making.”

…and more importantly that in transitioning to this new system, we must ensure no one is left behind.

“Make sure we don't isolate communities and work hard to engage with communities in danger of isolation”
“The need to bring others with us: we will need everyone and now! more inclusive policy making, don't leave groups behind”

So what did people enjoy most about the day?

“Overall sense of opportunity/optimism.”
“Broadness of topics: policy, community, grid decarbonisation, strategies, etc. And the passion.
“Everything! Energy knowledge, passion in room”
“It's been a very valuable battery recharge for me - great to be amongst this brilliant local energy/climate ‘family’”
“Inspiring and excellent presentations - not the usual conference”

And by the sounds of it the momentum shows no signs of stopping …

“Don’t wait until we know all the answers, get on with it!”
“I will push harder and find new ways to change my own sector of 60 centres, 5,000 staff, and 20 million participants.”

We'd like to say thank you to all our speakers and everyone who came. What a great day it was!


For more insights shared by attendees throughout the day check out the hashtag #CSEfuture.

You can download the presentations of most of the speakers from this page.

And finally, as promised, here are the much anticipated answers to the quiz.

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