Sketching a Local/ Regional/ National Strategy on Climate Change
How might the Climate Challenge Fund/ Local Authorities / Government better enable Communities to tackle Climate Change through Rebuilding Resilience?
This brief paper proposes reframing the CCF as the Community Resilience Fund to enable communities to develop resilience, and it proposes reshaping Local Authorities roles and national policy to support this.
The paper suggests steps to further enable communities to become resilient, and that to support this Local Authorities may need to reclaim powers from Holyrood (such as the power to regulate regional transport, produce energy, and ensure equitable ownership systems). The paper then sketches a decarbonisation strategy for Scotland that can help to enable this rebuilding of local and regional resilience, a strategy which the Scottish Government may need to reclaim powers to pursue.
1. CUTTING CARBON AND ECONOMIC GROWTH = CONFLICTING AGENDAS
According to the UK Government, the UK has cut its emissions by 198 Mt CO2 e (megatons of greenhouse gases) since 1990. However the Carnegie Institution for Science estimates that we have outsourced 253 Mt CO2 e. The apparent success of the UK’s carbon-cutting programme has resulted from the collapse of our manufacturing base and its re-establishment overseas. Under the current contradictory agendas of economic growth and carbon cutting, we export overseas not only our carbon production, but also our jobs. It’s an environmental and social lose/ lose approach.
Could the Scottish Government develop a decarbonising framework, and Local Authorities develop a resilient communities strategy, to challenge the culture of dependency where both rich and poor are dependent on a system of economic growth driving ecological destruction? In a context where councils’ ability to deliver services will soon be drastically cut, can we develop an alternative strategy to develop community, regional and national scale economies centred not on growth but on sustainability?
2. MAPPING A PATHWAY TO COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL RESILIENCE:
The strategy sketched here is based on recognising the need to restore community resilience, and the need to enable Local Authorities to develop resilience.
A. Redefining the Climate Challenge Fund as The Community Resilience Fund to:
1. Materially rebuild community. Currently CCF funded groups activities are not allowed to interfere in the market and so they can’t develop economically and environmentally sustainable community enterprises. What are needed are interventions to re-orientate the market so that it serves community needs in a sustainable way. The CCF should direct it’s support to the development of community owned trading, production, turbines, hydro, businesses making things communities need, markets, orchards, land for growing, CSA schemes, recycling and reusing ‘waste’ schemes, etc.
[It should be noted that the CCF has not been alone in not funding groups activities that interfere in the market. Almost all responses to climate change restrict themselves from interfering in the vey area that most needs addressing: the market. The 10:10 campaign, for example, asks all who sign up to it to reduce their emissions by 10% over 12 months; the only exception being businesses, who are only asked to reduce their carbon intensity by 10%. In other words they can produce more emissions as long as their profits or productivity rises by more than 10% over that period. A completely sensible exception if we accept the market as determining the rules of the game, a huge flaw in the programme if we see those rules as creating the problem in the first place].
2. Community Rolling Fund: Community-to-Community Regional Funding
Having provided seed corn funding for the material rebuilding described above, the CCF and Local Authorities need to support the development of community-to-community regional funding enabling a domino approach that ensures all communities develop this material basis for resilience.
For example, in Fife, communities who are supported to develop renewables could be required to put a proportion of funds generated into a Fife-wide community pot which is used to support other communities to create their renewable projects, etc. This would mean that all parts of Fife could develop energy sufficiency, not through government or council funding but through community to community support.
3. Enable the CCF to become proactive.
With a limited budget and huge ambitions, the CCF has necessarily had to be reactive, responding to what it has considered to be the best ideas and projects, often from already well-resourced communities.
While deepening the support outlined above for existing community initiatives to enable them to become sustainable, the need now is to support projects in more deprived communities (communities which may not have had the community resources needed to make successful applications to the CCF). There is also a need to establish financial mechanisms to ensure that initiatives do not have to pay for wages or services prior to being reimbursed. Establishing support and exchange between communities needs to continue – in order to build regionally resilient community networks.
B. Redefining the Local Authority’s Role: as being to enable community resilience
With a potential 8 to 20% cuts in funding, Local Authorities need to redefine their role from being service providers to rebuilding communities that can stand on their own two feet, and can help neighbouring communities to do likewise. What infrastructure can help this process, while reducing Council costs? This might include:
Enabling communities to take ownership of projects: Many perceive the Council as a Leviathan. Officers need to have the ability to both respond and help facilitate community projects, and know when to step back.
Beautiful Sustainable Awards:
Finding ways of connecting (i) people’s passion for improving the appearance of their neighbourhoods, with (ii) their ability to contribute to addressing the structural problems that are putting the future at risk.
Essential services such as food, energy and material production need to be ring fenced as community controlled enterprises, with the council’s role being to ensure broader community to community exchange and support.
Planning: Changes to planning so that:
(a) Community owned and sustainable buildings and developments get the green light ahead of external developers (e.g. supermarkets are planned out of the process, local food markets planned in),
(b) Community renewables, transport and food projects are supported, and are considered in relation to each other (e.g. areas being considered as a whole), and considered proactively not just reactively;
Large-scale renewable energy production:
Expanding energy parks and training to ensure jobs in renewables go to local people and help rebuild the local economy and communities. Local people in very poor communities need the training to take up these jobs.
Developing off shore wind and tidal schemes (which would require a change in legislation), and broader changes to procurement policy, could ensure Council’s sustainability and resilience.
Ensure Councils have the right to regulate transport, ensure train and bus services and timetables intersect, reduce fares and increase services.
Ensure the Council’s procurement policies take into account the full carbon, ecological and social costs of the product over its lifetime.
(a) Enable communities to use land: Facilitate garden/land share; transfer unused land to community food growing initiatives.
(b) Community supported agriculture: develop the financial mechanisms to enable communities to work with and support local farmers to produce healthy, cheap local produce.
(c ) Healthy Affordable food vs. Organic local food: Take a joined up approach. For example, land near schools could be used by children to grow local organic food, which they can learn to cook themselves as part of providing for healthy school lunches, thereby ensuring they develop enthusiasm, ownership, health and skills for life and work.
To develop small-scale community-owned projects, Councils could work with Credit Unions and banks such as Triodos to create investment schemes including ‘Wind Bonds’ (to support community turbines) and ‘Land Bonds’ (for Community Supported Agriculture).
There may be a need to develop different levels of currencies: (i) local currencies to strengthen local community economies through loyalty, awareness, and a shift in spending; (ii) regional currencies to connect these, and to connect them to regional energy, services and producers; while retaining (iii) a national currency to facilitate broader exchanges.
C. Councils and Communities: from economic growth to building resilience
Although, in terms of carbon reduction, the focus is on changing peoples’ behaviour, Shelagh Young points out that actually: (i) We need the infrastructure to enable us to behave differently, and (ii) Most of us feel able to change when we feel happy.
She adds that research suggests that what people need to be happier are neighbourhoods: (i) That evoke warm memories [belonging]; (ii) That look good, with shared public spaces, green spaces [cherishing]; and (iii) Where people keep an eye out for, talk with, and know each other [relating].
In other words, ordinary people want the same as those in climate active community initiatives; they just don’t use the same language. The fundamental need, then, is to restore a shared language that can identify that our common good is best served by:
(i) Rebuilding resilient communities on a sustainable material base, rather than requiring local and national government to be service providers unintentionally enforcing communities’ passivity; by
(ii) Local authorities playing an active part in that process and by their rebuilding their own resilience rather than simply relying on central government funding; and by
(iii) National governments doing likewise through playing an active part in the process of supporting the emergence of resilient communities and relocalised regional economies, as well as through decarbonising the market and the energy supply, and through ending our reliance on long supply chains that bring ‘cheap’ products whose social and ecological cost in terms of lost jobs here and raised emissions there are incalculable.
3. SKETCHING A DECARBONISATION STRATEGY FOR SCOTLAND
The global consensus is that dangerous climate change is approaching, and is primarily driven by the burning of fossil fuels; however, the Copenhagen summit failed to establish meaningful mechanisms for carbon reduction. In the Scottish context, the Government’s promise of “mandatory carbon reduction targets of 3 per cent per annum” in order to reach a 42% cut by 2020, was watered down in May 2010 to 0.5 per cent for the next couple of years on the grounds that greater reductions would be too hard to meet. (NB: the opposition parties at Holyrood have rejected have insisted the Government comes up with plans for real reductions).
The Climate Change Bill proposed that Scotland set “a 50% reduction target for 2030 and an 80% reduction target for 2050.” Holyrood 350’s response was that: Scotland needs to achieve a reduction of 100% by 2030 and 10% by 2012 to show the climate change leadership the world needs in order to start the race out of carbon, and to place us in pole position to take advantage of that race.
How to Reduce Emissions to Zero by 2030
The two key aspects of the strategy we are proposing are:
(i) Changing the top-down system so that it enables community resilience: Here we propose three fundamental changes: the market one being ‘Cap and Share’, the technical one being 100% renewable energy, and the political one being controlling and redirecting the financial sector. Of these the game-changer is the Cap and Share scheme (see below).
(ii) Community Resilience Fund: Shifting the focus from the failed boom and bust economic growth model to building our well-being on enabling communities to develop their material base and to support their neighbouring communities to do likewise (see above and below).
1. Pricing Carbon into then Out of the Economy
We strongly encourage the Scottish Government to rapidly introduce a scheme to ensure that high-carbon products, modes of transport, energy sources and services, are fast replaced by zero-carbon ones. The necessary rapid rise in the cost of high-carbon options would be accompanied by the rapid development and shift to zero-carbon ones, thereby dramatically reducing and then stopping carbon being extracted from the ground to pass through the economy into the atmosphere.
Introducing ‘Cap and Dividend’ [or ‘Cap and Share’] to Scotland:
In this system the vast majority of the population are immediately better off and only those who can afford it (the heavy emitters) are penalised for disproportionately polluting the global commons. Introducing this system to Scotland would mean that those bringing carbon into the economy (those very few companies importing or producing coal/ oil/ gas/ cement etc) would take part in an annual auction to buy the right to bring carbon into the economy.
The extra price they have then paid is
(i) Passed on to manufacturers and other users of the fossil fuel they bring into the economy, which leads to higher prices for all those using those products, services, modes of transportation etc which have carbon embedded in them; but the cash generated from the auction of these carbon emission permits is
(ii) Passed on to the population at large (directly into their bank or post office accounts) so that people can deal with the increase in prices. This means that (a) those using more than their fair share of carbon are penalised because all such prices will have risen, while those using less (the great majority) will benefit with extra cash, and (b) producers will be encouraged to rapidly develop non-carbon based products/ services/ modes of transport, and avoid producing carbon ones.
Advantages: Political and Practical Advantages of ‘Cap and Dividend’:
A vote winner in that
(i) It immediately puts money in peoples’ pockets and leaves them to choose the lower and zero-carbon options if they wish.
(ii) It ensures that all the money from the auction (and subsequently from heavy emitters) is passed on directly to the vast majority of families and individuals; and, since none of he money will be kept by Government, there is no way this could be misconstrued as a way of raising Government revenue.
Market solution – it doesn’t create a different political or economic game, it simply changes the rules of the game so that the market has to internalise the carbon cost [although, it can be a bridge towards a different framework].
Technologically innovative – the certainty of the cap (the permitted level of carbon in the economy) being reduced rapidly year on year, would immediately boost jobs and investment in the development of zero-carbon energy, goods and services.
Creates a level playing field: Together with the Government (i) reducing energy demand and ensuring 100% renewable energy, and (ii) re-regulating and re-directing finance, this policy will create a level playing field in which food and energy, goods and services, will be produced closer to home, helping build socially and ecologically healthy communities (see 4 below).
Challenges: Political and Practical Challenges of ‘Cap and Dividend’
UK context: UK law would not allow Scotland to unilaterally implement such a system, but if people in Scotland powerfully push to do so, this would put huge pressure on the UK Government to follow suit or to accept Scottish autonomy in this and related areas.
EU and WTO context: The EU and WTO could argue against us imposing stringent tariffs on carbon embedded imports from countries that do not have a similar scheme. However, such a tariff would be necessary to create a level playing field by levelling up international practice.
Impact of our re-localisation on the Global South: Cheap products from the Global South would be priced out of our market through the requirement that they internalise their carbon costs or, if not, have tariffs imposed on entry. However: (i) international trade tends to maintain undemocratic elites in power who impoverish people through taking their land and/or paying little for their labour. Removing this source of elite’s wealth, diminishes their power, helping democracy; and (ii) since these cheap products externalise social costs, Fairtrade schemes could be used to address the social issues directly.
2. Switching From Carbon Hungry To Energy Healthy Infrastructure
We strongly encourage the Scottish Government to enable a rapid switch from carbon hungry to energy healthy infrastructure. This would involve an immediate end to the construction of infrastructure which is accelerating our carbon use and accelerating climate change, including the immediate end of motorway building, airport expansion, and out of town shopping centres. A rapid transformation in energy production, construction and in transport infrastructure, including rolling out effective mass insulation and energy conservation schemes, public and community benefit renewable energy schemes, and exponentially expanding and electrifying (and reducing the fares to low or zero levels on) public transport.
To move to being an energy healthy society by 2030 we need to rapidly:
(i) ‘Power Down’ from using carbon based and polluting energy sources and from being energy obese, thereby reducing energy use by 50% by 2030; and
(ii) ‘Power Up’ by rapidly expanding renewables (including tidal, wind, CHP and hydro) to provide for all our remaining energy needs by 2030.
This transition will happen anyway as oil, gas and coal run out, but needs to be done now to stop carbon from remaining fossil fuels being released into the atmosphere.
How the energy transformation can technically be carried out by 2030 is outlined in the Centre for Alternative Technology’s widely acclaimed Zero Carbon Report. It is also clear from this, that it would be entirely misguided to pour energy and resources into the expectation that we could develop bountiful, cheap and safe nuclear energy, and continue to use coal (through seeking to develop carbon capture and storage). The Zero Carbon Report makes clear that renewable solutions are available and can meet our real needs (rather than our manufactured wants) now if we choose to pour our energy into developing them (see: www.zerocarbonbritain.com).
Creating a balanced renewable infrastructure will require community owned projects, local authority projects, and national projects. However, in the transition to a zero carbon society there may well be a strong case for exploring the potential for Geothermal energy to provide the heating needed (e.g. through harnessing the heat in the water in disused mines under the central belt), and there will be a crucial role for large-scale offshore national renewable systems such as those proposed by the Offshore Valuation Group which “found that harnessing 29 per cent of the UK’s practical wind, wave and tidal resources would match the electricity generated by North Sea oil and gas production” (May 20th 2010).
3. Establishing a Radical Green New Deal
We strongly encourage the Scottish Government to recognise the underlying cause of the ‘triple crunch’: credit-fuelled financial crisis, accelerating climate change and fluctuating but (over the long term) soaring energy prices associated with Peak Oil.
We strongly encourage the Government to develop a policy framework and programme to re-regulate the financial sector; and begin the process of either:
(i) Persuading the Westminster Government to implement such legislation or, if the Westminster Government refuses, then
(ii) Creating this as ‘Shadow legislation’ and consulting the people of Scotland on whether they support the Scottish Government’s leadership in tackling these three connected crises.
Where even a few years ago, it would have been seen as electoral suicide to advocate re-regulating the financial sector; there is now a huge popular appetite (amongst both expert analysts and the population at large) for such a move. The rules of the economic system have legally obliged companies to pursue the highest returns for shareholders without thought to how this can destroy the social, economic and environmental fabric. The quickest (even if least long-term) approach to increasing profit has been through externalising the social and ecological costs of producing goods and services (hence the outsourcing or production and service jobs to the Majority world).
As a first step, we call on the Scottish Government to:
(i) Push for transparency in transnational financiers and corporations dealings so that they become accountable for the impacts they are having, and so that we ensure they are accountable through paying tax.
(ii) Push internationally for tax havens and their secretive dealings to be stopped, and in the meantime push for legislation to make any agreements reached in such jurisdictions lack any legal status here.
Over the longer term, we call on the Scottish Government to:
- Build a new alliance between politicians, environmentalists, industry, agriculture, and the unions. One which puts the interests of the real economy ahead of those of footloose finance in order to make massive investment in renewable energy and wider environmental transformation, (The Green New Deal at www.neweconomics.org)
- Re-orientate the money system so that it exists to protect money as a shared commons which we all need to facilitate exchange, and as such exists to serve the well-being of society, rather than to increase the profits of the few at the expense of society and the environment (Davey 2008).
A sustainable economic policy should include: (from Andy Ross of H350)
(i) A new metric for well being for people and planet (to replace GNP), and a citizen’s income to meet basic needs.
(ii) Regulation and/or taxes on ‘bads’ (e.g. resource depletion, waste, pollution, extreme inequality, overwork, overconsumption, dependency, etc) and citizens should be charged for resource use (e.g. Cap and Share)
(iii) Incentives for goods (e.g. conservation, efficiency/durability/quality, eco-friendliness, equality of opportunity, life-work balance, sufficiency, autonomy, etc)
4. Supporting Community Re-Localisation
We strongly encourage the Scottish Government to continue and dramatically increase its excellent support for communities seeking to make the transition from an oil dependent economy to a local one. This movement is evident in the wave of Transition Town, Going Carbon Neutral, etc., initiatives (see www.pedal-porty.org.uk, www.fifediet.co.uk, etc).
The Land Reform (Scotland) Act should be expanded to extend support to urban communities to also have the first right (and support) to buy important community land and buildings when they come on the market. This must not be at the expense of existing support for rural communities to do likewise, but can enable urban communities to rebuild themselves, partly through learning from the experience of rural community initiatives (see www.isleofeigg.org, www.caledonia.org.uk).
As the previous three actions are taken to stop the extraction of carbon, a level playing field will emerge in which food, energy and the things we need and want are produced far closer to home. The three previous steps create the grounds for this fourth step which ultimately depends on people being willing to rebuild their communities as sustainable, healthy, resilient and desirable places to be through relocalising their economy. Here decisions need to be managed through negotiation and co-operation rather than through the imposition of developments by those who are absent from a locality, and therefore never have to deal with the consequences.
CONCLUSION: WHY IS THIS RESILIENCE FRAMEWORK NEEDED NOW?
According to the Stockholm Institute, without a completely new approach even the most radical of their three alternative visions of the future led to well over 2°C rises. When they ran the three alternative scenarios through the Met Office’s Hadley Centre’s modelling system, the rises were as follows:
(i) With Agree and Ignore – the current approach in which international negotiations (at best) lead to weak target setting which countries then effectively ignore – led to rises of 4.85°C;
(ii) Kyoto Plus – the successful binding international negotiations Copenhagen failed to deliver – led to rises of 3.31°C; and
(iii) A radical Step Change market approach to severely restrict companies using fossil fuels in the first place – still led to rises of 2.89°C.
So, without a dramatically different pathway – such as this relocalisation process enabled by Local Authority action and a National policy framework — we cannot stop the devastating extraction of carbon, nor demonstrate to the world how to get back below 350ppm and so stay below the danger threshold of 2°C.
In summary: we are not going to be able to pull back from the brink and – in the process — develop localised economies and fulfilling zero-carbon lifestyles unless:
(i) There is legislation to ensure a level playing field for all, so that individuals, companies and public bodies can act to reduce emissions
(ii) There is a clear programme to change energy use, infrastructure, and the materials we use, from carbon-based to carbon-neutral
(iii) There is swift legislation to curb the ability of finance and the profit motive to exploit and damage, rather than serve society, and unless
(iv) There is vastly increased support for communities to make the transition.
Can the Scottish Government respond to the crisis the science is telling us we are in by making our target an emissions reduction of 100% by 2030, and 10% by the end of 2012, and by taking the necessary steps to begin that dramatic reduction now?
Can Local Authorities take the initiative, shift from an economic growth to a sustainable communities agenda, enabling communities to increase their well being even while funding for Local Authority service provision is being cut?
Can people act on the recognition that – in responding to the challenges of climate change, resource depletion, ecological degradation and economic crisis — rebuilding their communities and attending to the local is the best response to the global?
 This section updates Holyrood 350’s 2009 response to the Scottish Parliament’s draft Bill. The percentages now refer to a 2010 baseline of 50 million tonnes of greenhouse gases.
 Here we focus on the 4 strategic ways of reducing emissions, but there are a whole host of piecemeal moves which can have a massive cumulative effect. For examples of possible piecemeal changes (as well as strategic approaches) see George Monbiot’s ‘Here’s the plan’ (http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2006/10/31/heres-the-plan/) or Climate Safety’s ‘A few suggestions’ on page 23 of their Climate Safety Report (http://climatesafety.org/wp-content/uploads/climatesafety.pdf). Ideas range from: electricity tariffs where energy becomes cheaper the less you use, ending domestic flights, a 55mph speed limit, using the £76 million earmarked for replacing Trident to build wind turbines and carry out a national insulation programme, get rid of private courier vans and return post to Royal Mail postmen walking.
 In order to raise revenue for (i) urgent carbon reduction public schemes of work, and (ii) helping the poor here and in the Global South deal with climate change, the Government could make agreements reached in tax havens carry no weight in our courts. The unpaid tax recovered from tax havens could easily finance such massive projects (The Green New Deal)