This is our column from this month’s Keynsham Voice:
I have been reading about the Danish town of Sønderborg, which aims to become zero carbon by 2029.
ProjectZero, launched in 2007, is a joint venture between the people, politicians and businesses of the municipality of Sønderborg, an area that includes several towns and many villages, with a population of 77,000.
It’s one of a hundred towns and cities around the world featured in a recent report called ‘Who’s getting ready for Zero?’ by the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales.
Scientists, business leaders and many governments accept the need to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2ºC to deliver a stable climate and a prosperous future for generations to come. Even the World Bank is calling on nations to develop their own plans to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of this century.
Some people argue that reaching zero carbon can’t be done, or it’s only possible if we return to the middle ages with its horse drawn carts and candles. Towns like Sønderborg reveal that nothing is further from the truth. We can easily reach zero carbon emissions using existing technologies, without compromising our lifestyles.
In fact there are many benefits to becoming zero carbon, including a more stable economic system, better health and well-being, stronger communities and improved relationships with nature.
Globally, our energy systems need to be decarbonised. Regional renewable energy distribution networks must be developed; national governments should support and prioritise energy efficiency and the renewable energy sectors, and communities must be allowed to create and own local renewable energy supplies.
I was heartened to read about the positive steps governments, businesses and communities are taking around the world to decarbonise their energy supplies. The UK government, however, is bucking the trend – seemingly determined to kill off our renewables industry, promising to go ‘all out’ for greenhouse gas intensive fracking and shutting down grants for energy efficiency.
Can our region become zero carbon? I challenge BANES Council to work with local communities and businesses to develop our own ProjectZero plan, and create a better world for ourselves and future generations.
Published in Keynsham Voice November 2015, www.keynshamvoice.co.uk