Climate Change

Low Carbon Engineering – A Look Into The Future

As a teacher or trainer, one hopes to inspire students but it is often the case when working in adult education, that the teacher is inspired as much (if not more) by the students as they are by you.

Such was the case when I delivered Carbon Literacy training to a group of post-graduate researchers in Cardiff University’s School of Engineering.

The students were either holders of a doctorate or on their way to receiving one and several of them were lecturers. So, I was a little daunted by the challenge of designing a training programme for them that would respect their level of knowledge and intellectual ability. The more a group of adults know however, the less the teacher or trainer needs to do in terms of knowledge transfer. The students bring the knowledge, and the trainer has to facilitate the sharing of that knowledge.

So I set the group a task of developing a mini lecture on the question, “Can we engineer our way out of the climate crisis?” Colleagues within the group had a wide degree of specialist knowledge covering topics such as; electricity grids, low carbon gas, low emission vehicles, psychology, waste management, and carbon reduction management. They worked in four teams to design an answer to the question and present their response.

Two of the teams addressed the issue at a high level, identifying the need for social, economic and cultural changes while the other two looked at specific engineering solutions. Here is a summary of what I learned from them.

Firstly, let us start with specific engineering solutions.

There are a range of geo-engineering options available – (See image above courtesy of Lahiru Jayasuriya and Riccardo Maddalena). These include ocean fertilisation to boost plankton growth, ground level reflectors to replace albedo lost when ice melts, cloud seeding and at the extreme end – orbiting reflectors to send solar thermal radiation back into space before it reaches Earth. These are known as “direct interventions.”

“Indirect interventions” include carbon capture-storage, smart grids and renewable energy sources coupled with hydrogen as an energy vector and storage medium.

An innovation that may prove to be very important is to create ammonia (NH3) by electrolysing water using power generated by renewable sources such as wind and solar. Ammonia is a colourless gas which can be chilled and compressed into a liquid. It is used as a fertiliser but is also a waste product in many industrial processes. Ammonia can act as a carrier of hydrogen or be used directly as a fuel but in the latter case, it produces high levels of nitrous oxides which are greenhouse gasses. Engineers are researching ways to decouple ammonia use from such emissions. Existing gas turbines would also need to be converted in order to use ammonia as a fuel.

Another exciting area of research is “smart local energy systems”. In these, energy is produced and supplied from a variety of disaggregated point sources rather than from a few large generators such as nuclear, coal or gas power stations. The gas and electricity supply grids work together, mediated by SMART technology. In this scenario, small local producers of energy can trade with peers, waste heat is no longer wasted, and things that use energy can moderate their demand in line with price and supply fluctuations. Consumers of energy are no longer passive recipients but become an important element by, for example, choosing when and how they require and use energy. A smart grid would be a major cultural shift but it is already being widely discussed and elements of it piloted.

Carbon capture and storage could reduce current emissions by 12% by stripping the carbon dioxide from industrial exhausts and storing it under ground. Coal, a high carbon substance, adsorbs carbon dioxide molecules onto its surface. The coal still sitting in the seams of the south Wales coalfield is particularly reactive in this respect – CO2 sticks readily to Welsh coal! This means that south Wales could be an important area for carbon storage. The alternative approach is to pump the gas into the voids left by oil and natural gas extraction but storage in coal seams is more stable.

These are just some examples of engineering solutions to the climate crisis but are they enough on their own?

The answer is a clear no.

To begin with, there are and will be a variety of interests that resist changes no matter how effective the engineering solutions can be. Engineers today must engage not only with clients but with politicians and the general public. They have to be able to advocate their science and particular technical solutions in a political and cultural context in order to build alliances that will overcome vested interests and irrational resistance but at the same time, the engineering solution itself will have to respect cultural and social concerns and be flexible enough to deal with these. Engineers, like other scientists, have to embrace interdisciplinary working practices. The education of engineers has to anticipate this by encouraging independent thinking and integrated design. The problem is that much of engineering research is funded by industry to achieve a very specific outcome strongly tied to economic efficiency and functionality.

The group agreed that the days when engineering could simply bolt something on are over. End of pipe solutions are no longer sufficient for the degree of challenge we face. We need to change the amount and the way we consume resources and engineers, like designers, have to be part of the process right from the beginning. I have become aware myself of the shift in thinking that has occurred in civil engineering over the last thirty years, proving that change can happen.

If the young men and women I met through this Carbon Literacy course are typical of their profession then I am heartened that we can change our world for the better. They can clearly explain their research interests with passion but also articulate the relevance of their research in a social, cultural and economic context. Much of their research takes place within the FLEXIS programme – a £24 million research initiative that is directed to developing energy systems, building on the research success of Welsh universities, to provide solutions of global relevance.

If you would like to know more about specific technologies mentioned above or engage with the FLEXIS programme then please contact Karolina Rucinska FLEXIS Project Development officer atinfo@flexis.wales or visit the FLEXIS website. 

If you would like to read what FLEXIS thought about the Carbon Literacy training you can do so here.

Further information on specific technologies can be requested via Karolina as follows;

Ammonia as a fuel – Syed Mashruk, Gas Turbine Research Centre

Smart grids – Dr. Muditha Abeysekera, Lecturer in multi-vector energy systems

Carbon Capture and storage in South Wales Coalfield – Dr Renato Zagorscak, Geoenvironmental Research Centre

This workshop was sponsored by the Early Career Researchers Fund from the School of Engineering, Cardiff University. Find more information about research at Cardiff School of Engineering.

Cardiff Council: Work to Create a “Safer Cardiff’ City Centre Begins

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Cardiff Council is investigating how it can work with partners to create a ‘Safer Cardiff’ for both residents and workers travelling into the city centre once the current lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Plans for Castle Street in the city centre and a pilot scheme for Wellfield Road, in Roath, have already been announced with a traffic lane cleared on Castle Street for cyclists and pedestrians.

Now discussions are underway which could see roads, footways and public space on Queen Street, St Mary Street, The Hayes and Churchill Way remodelled as well as other major footfall areas in the city centre. The council is also looking at introducing specific measures to help support businesses, including making some of the public realm available to restaurants in the city centre whose floor space will be restricted by social distancing measures.

The council is working with For Cardiff, which represents businesses in the city centre, and Arup a recognised technical expert on redesigning cities. The plans will be designed to ensure the safety of the public and to help businesses get up and running during the recovery period.

Cardiff Council Leader, Cllr Huw Thomas, said: “We are all living in extraordinary times and as the council continues to respond to the current issues during this pandemic, we also have to plan on how we are going to recover from this crisis once the lockdown has been lifted.

“We now have to look at how we can re-model the public space in the city centre and implement effective plans to ensure that social distancing measures can be maintained for everyone’s safety. Not only that – we have to find ways of making the city a great place to visit again, despite any restrictions which may have to be imposed.

“Clearly lots of people will still have concerns when lockdown is lifted, so we want to make sure when people think about Cardiff they think ‘yes, I know it’s safe to visit, safe to shop, safe to do business and it’s safe for me and my family to be there.’ We will work with experts in the field, consulting with businesses and residents who live in the city centre. It’s this ‘One City’ approach, which will enable us to Restart, Recover and Renew Cardiff. I’m determined we won’t miss the opportunities that could arise from this. We all want a safer, greener, cleaner and healthier city, one which will be sustainable in the long term.

“All of this will cost money which is why we will begin discussions with Welsh Government on how it can be funded. Cardiff is the economic heartbeat of Wales. It can’t be left on life support. Our plans will need to be fully backed if we are to get the city up and running again for the benefit of everyone who lives and works here and in the city region.”

Arup will develop a strategy in partnership with the council and business to support the city centre’s recovery from the economic and well-being impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The strategy will initially focus on ways to bring people back into the city and support the reopening of city-centre businesses, while enabling social distancing. Longer term, it will look at opportunities to improve access to high-quality open space, digital networks, air quality, resilient infrastructure, and active travel. District neighbourhoods will also be considered.

The concept for the immediate strategy is based around creating a welcoming city with space for pedestrians prioritised towards the centre. Welcome gateways will provide information, orientation and sanitisation areas. The measures used will be flexible to fit different business needs.

Long-term opportunities to improve the city centre experience are being considered to attract visitors and ensure the city’s resilience as it recovers from the economic impacts of the pandemic. The council will consult with city partners, residents, local councillors and staff but some options include creation of a loop of green public space around the city connecting existing public spaces; repurposed streets that prioritise pedestrians and cyclists, consolidated logistics, and servicing linked to enhanced digital infrastructure and monitoring.

Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, Cllr Caro Wild added: “This involves detailed work, looking at how space can be allocated safely to ensure social distancing measures can be maintained for motorists, cyclists and most importantly pedestrians.

“There is no doubt that this will be a significant challenge, but we are keen to ensure that plans are in place to re-open the city centre when it is safe to do so. We will work with local councillors to ensure the views of local residents are heard throughout the process.”

Cllr Russell Goodway; Cabinet member for Investment and Development, said: “We have already begun conversations with city businesses. They want to be involved and they want to see Cardiff restored. The challenges we face in restarting and renewing the city’s economy will only be overcome by working together in partnership. I’m confident we will bring forward a strategy which will shape the way we think about cities in a post-COVID landscape. We can’t allow our city centres to be places people are afraid to visit. This is vitally important work and could see Cardiff leading the agenda nationally on how urban centre recover from the pandemic.”

Sophie Camburn, Director, Integrated City Planningfor Arup, said: “Our team has brought together a range of expertise to create a strategy that will help the council respond to challenges and opportunities as they prepare to begin the gradual process of reopening the city centre.

“We have looked at how Cardiff can use its civic pride, creative capacity and underlying assets to respond to immediate practical needs, medium-term tactical changes and strategic opportunities to make a better place in the long term.”

An initial report on the strategy will go to Cardiff Council’s Cabinet on June 11, 2020.[:]

Keep Wales Tidy Call for Applications for New Places for Nature on Everyone’s Doorstep

[:en]Hundreds of new nature garden projects are in the pipeline across Wales with applications for many more invited

Keep Wales Tidy is delighted to be reopening applications for its Local Places for Nature initiative. With many of us limited to our immediate locality during lockdown, there has never been a better time to consider how our community areas can be improved for nature.

A choice of pre-paid garden packages are being offered to local community groups and town and community councils to transform a space in their local area. Groups and potential applicants are being asked to make best use of their time at home, by submitting an application. Keep Wales Tidy staff are on hand to help.

The first assessment panel was impressed with the quality and variety of applications from across Wales and were happy to award:

  • 101 Butterfly gardens
  • 44 Fruit gardens
  • 71 Wildlife gardens

Check out the map to see where all the gardens will be across Wales www.keepwalestidy.cymru/lpfn-map

  • Tredegar Town Council in Blaenau Gwent will be developing a butterfly garden to enhance the Sirhowy Community Garden and provide a tranquil space for the whole community.
  • Conwy Arts Trust will be creating a fruit garden at Venue Cymru in Llandudno as a pilot project to develop magical areas that can be used to inspire creativity.
  • Riverside in Cardiff has very little accessible green space and Keep Riverside Tidy will be creating a butterfly garden which will enhance nature for the local community.
  • A wildlife garden in Dinas Mawddwy will be used by Plannwch y Plas to engage and involve the local community with nature and growing.
  • Mumbles Community Council will be sprucing up Jubilee Gardens with their wildlife garden package and making it into a pleasant place to sit and enjoy nature.

 

The safety of staff and volunteers is of the utmost importance, so no practical work has started to date. However, Keep Wales Tidy are making plans as to how they might deliver some activities safely when government guidelines allow.

 

Deputy Chief Executive for Keep Wales Tidy, Louise Tambini said:

Through these difficult times the value of nature and accessible green space has never been more recognisable and important to our communities. It has been heartening to see so many people volunteering to help others through the COVID-19 pandemic and we would encourage you to continue volunteering and join the Local Places for Nature initiative to create new, accessible spaces for wildlife in your local community. It is easy to apply, and applicants will be supported to install their new gardens safely within social distancing and government guidelines, only when it is safe to do so. We look forward to starting practical work when regulations are eased “.

 

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths MS said:

‘’We have all seen how important nature is for our mental well-being. Our £5m Local Places for Nature programme encourages communities to get involved with creating nature ‘on their doorsteps’. We are delighted that Keep Wales Tidy are accepting applications again, in readiness for when projects can begin. Currently we are all staying at home, to protect the NHS and save lives. But as conditions allow and when safety can be assured, I hope volunteers across Wales will be involved in these local projects to restore and enhance nature.

 

The initiative is part of a wider £5m Welsh Government ‘Local Places for Nature’ fund committed to acquiring, restoring and enhancing nature ‘on your doorstep’.

Visit the Keep Wales Tidy website for further information about the Local Places for Nature initiative https://www.keepwalestidy.cymru/nature[:]

More Than A Pub – Community, Carbon Reduction and Covid-19

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The Plas Kynaston Canal Group (PKCG) is a longstanding member of Cynnal Cymru. The group meets regularly in the Holy Bush Inn that stands on a central position in the village of Cefn Mawr, Wrexham.

Dave Metcalfe, one of the founders of the PKCG, led a campaign to save the Holly Bush from demolition. His company bought the pub and it is now run as a free house and community resource. As well as the bar and lounge, the pub has space for community groups to meet.

Post-industrial villages like Cefn Mawr (of which there are many in Wales) have undergone enormous change that has been driven not only be the immediate contraction of employment in their area, but by wider cultural changes that have evolved over decades. Large scale retail (which is most conveniently accessed by private car), online shopping, and the growth of internet services have led to an atomisation of communities: families eat, drink and access entertainment alone. The great communal experience that created and defined these villages has been replaced. The villages themselves have become hollowed out dormitories for workers who travel into the nearest city. Pubs like the Holly Bush are now sadly the exception.

Dave Metcalfe however has a vision. He believes that our industrial villages should and can revive and that in doing so, they would be physical manifestations of the vision described in the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act. Will the experience of lockdown, brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, cause people to re-evaluate their local services? We are getting anecdotal evidence that affirms this through our delivery of Carbon Literacy training. People’s worlds have been forced to shrink by the virus but many are reporting a new found joy and convenience in the use of local assets such as green space and food shops.

As we emerge from lockdown however, we risk losing this. Even as we urgently restart the economy however, Dave’s vision becomes more pertinent than before. He points out that thousands of tons of CO2 could be saved every year simply by getting people back in their local, drinking out of pint glasses instead of buying it from the supermarkets in cans and bottles.

“A truly green approach would be to get people back in their local, drinking beer from glasses that are simply washed and refilled from barrels refilled by the breweries, no waste and no unnecessary CO2.”

Thousands of tons of glass and aluminium are used every year in the manufacture of drinks for the off-licence market. These products are then transported and presented for sale. What is the carbon footprint of all this? Greenhouse gasses are subsequently produced in the recycling of the empty drinks containers while some are lost forever to landfill.  Furthermore, with the correct soda machines installed, big savings can be made on plastics as no plastic bottles would be required for soft drinks. We know that some cafes around Wales have removed plastic bottled soft drinks from their menus.

On the other hand, pubs need to be heated and lighted and the drinks kept chilled. There is nothing to stop a landlord however from using a green tariff or even on-site renewables to meet the pub’s energy demand.

We think Dave has a point here and would like to investigate further. We know that the international drinks industry takes their carbon footprint seriously and is engaged in efforts to reduce emissions and other harmful environmental impacts. See the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable as an example – BIER

Mike Berners-Lee (author of “How Bad Are Bananas – the Carbon Footprint of Everything”) as calculated the carbon footprint of your favourite pint as follows;

 

The carbon footprint of a pint of beer:

300g CO2e: locally brewed cask ale at the pub

500g CO2e: local bottled beer from a shop or foreign beer in a pub

900g CO2e: bottled beer from the shop, extensively transported

 

You can read more about this in Mike’s Guardian blog here.

 

As Dave says himself, “A truly green approach would be to get people back in their local, drinking beer from glasses that are simply washed and refilled from barrels refilled by the breweries, no waste and no unnecessary CO2.” Monitored by their friends and the pub staff, perhaps they would drink less than when pouring their own measures at home. The social interaction would build community as it used to before Covid-19 and the atomisation of society. It is a long-established argument of sustainability that small is beautiful and local is better. To make this cultural shift happen however, perhaps we need to restrict sales of alcohol in supermarkets and invest in our villages and town centres. Much to think about and much to discuss….[:]

Future Generations Commissioner urges Welsh Government to deliver on a green recovery budget

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● Carbon neutral housing and green jobs for people unemployed by pandemic are crucial to reset the economy and ‘build back better’
● Sophie Howe has outlined the five spending priorities Wales needs to be considering now – and calls for an urgent green stimulus package to help the country’s long-term recovery
● Government’s supplementary budget on Wednesday needs to signal investment that prioritises a better quality of life in the future

Green jobs for the unemployed and a multi-million pound package to decarbonise housing should be central to how Wales is reshaped in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, says the Future Generations Commissioner. 

Sophie Howe says we have  a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to reset Wales’ economy and is calling for  “visionary ideas and transformative investment” in the nation’s recovery plan. 

The commissioner has published a series of recommendations for Welsh Government as it announces its first Supplementary Budget, detailing how funding will be allocated during and after the crisis.  

The Welsh Government budget has increased by more than 10% for the current financial year – £2.4bn will be allocated to support Wales with its COVID-19 efforts. 

Ms Howe said: “The pandemic has brought incredible challenges, but how we recover gives us a once-in-a-generation opportunity. 

“The budget must signal a change in direction to reset our economy and remedy past failures with bold, collaborative, inclusive thinking and political courage. 

“It needs to address health, the economy and the ongoing climate and nature crises for the sake of Wales’ long-term future. We need a new definition of prosperity, based on well-being, and a fairer, greener way of living.” 

The commissioner, whose role is to protect future generations from the political actions of today, says in a paper that ministers must now show political courage with a focus on quality of life over GDP,  as the country begins the rebuilding process while restrictions remain in place to stem the spread of COVID-19. 

More investment in the low-carbon economy is crucial, and in the short-term, Ms Howe suggests those who have lost jobs and income in the pandemic could be reskilled and employed in the green economy. 

Among her recommendations is a multi-million pound stimulus package to support the decarbonisation of Wales’ housing stock – putting money into new low-carbon affordable housing and launching a national retrofitting programme to improve energy efficiency in existing homes. 

The benefits to people’s health, the environment, the jobs created and – crucially – Wales’ housing stock, would, says Ms Howe, far outweigh the estimated cost of more than £500m a year. 

As thousands remain working from home – taking pressure off transport networks and reducing carbon emissions – the commissioner wants investment to improve digital connectivity. 

Ms Howe applauded Welsh Government’s £25m commitment to fund transport improvements for pedestrians and cyclists by local authorities across Wales, and said it must form part of a long-term plan. 

It comes as moves to pedestrianise the centre of Bristol have been unveiled as part of its response to the COVID-19 crisis. The city is also engaging residents in planning new ways to use existing spaces – with emerging ideas including the pedestrianisation of entire dual carriageways. 

Elsewhere, Milan – one of the most congested cities in Europe – is transforming 35km of streets into ‘future zones’, where people can walk and cycle safely. 

Resources should also be shifted so Wales’ natural habitats can be restored, with green corridors linking the country and more investment in the new national forest being planted. 

Such thinking, says the commissioner will not only help wildlife, but can assist flood defences and the nation’s capability to face the challenges of climate change and create jobs. 

Ms Howe wants the Government to use the Well-being of Future Generations Act legislation along with her new Future Generations Report and  10-point plan for funding the climate emergency, in its response to the crisis. 

The Future Generations Report suggests Welsh Government works with public bodies to deliver 20% tree canopy cover in every town and city in Wales by 2030. 

Ms Howe said: “Our pre-Covid 19 economy prioritised economic growth, forced many people into poverty, and in turn created an unhealthy population that is particularly susceptible to global crises such as pandemics. 

“It’s vital that the budget addresses things we can’t afford to ignore – such as the current health crisis, the economic crisis the pandemic has triggered and the ongoing climate and nature crises. 

Wales has the opportunity to lead the way with visionary ideas and transformative investment, to a future based on well-being, using our unique Well-being of Future Generations Act as a framework. 

“I’m keen to work with partners and organisations to support Welsh Government in developing a response to the crisis which allows Wales to build back better.” 

 

The Future Generations Commissioner’s five recommendations… 

1.Develop an economic stimulus package that leads to job creation and supports the decarbonisation of homes, through building new low carbon affordable housing and investing in a national programme to improve the energy efficiency of existing homes. 

2.Invest in better ways to connect and move people through improving digital connectivity, active travel and public transport.

3. Invest in skills and training to support the transition to a better future, creating new greener jobs.

4.Invest in nature and prioritise funding and support for large-scale habitat and wildlife restoration, creation and connectivity throughout Wales –including for natural flood defences, to implement the new national forest, and to ensure land use management and agriculture supports secure local food chains and distribution.

5. Invest in the industries and technologies of the future, and support for businesses that will help Wales to lead the low carbon revolution and lock wealth and jobs into local areas with investment in the foundational economy. 

To read the full statement, visit the Future Generations Commissioner’s website.

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Mae tai carbon niwtral a swyddi gwyrdd i bobl sy’n ddiwaith yn sgil y pandemig yn hanfodol ar gyfer ailosod yr economi ac ‘adeiladu nôl yn well’.
● Mae Sophie Howe wedi amlinellu’r pum blaenoriaeth gwariant sydd angen i Gymru eu hystyried yn awr – ac yn galw am becyn ysgogi gwyrdd ar frys i helpu adferiad hirdymor y wlad.
● Mae angen i gyllideb atodol y llywodraeth ar ddydd Mercher nodi buddsoddiad sy’n blaenoriaethu gwell ansawdd bywyd yn y dyfodol.

Dylai swyddi gwyrdd i’r diwaith a phecyn gwerth miliynau o bunnoedd i ddatgarboneiddio tai fod yn ganolog i’r ffordd y mae Cymru’n cael ei hail-lunio yn dilyn pandemig coronafirws, meddai Comisiynydd Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol. 

Dywed Sophie Howe fod gennym “gyfle sy’n digwydd unwaith mewn cenhedlaeth” i ailosod economi Cymru, ac mae’n galw am “syniadau gweledigaethol a buddsoddiad trawsnewidiol yng nghynllun adfer y genedl. 

Mae’r comisiynydd wedi cyhoeddi cyfres o argymhellion ar gyfer Llywodraeth Cymru wrth iddynt gyhoeddi eu Cyllideb Atodol gyntaf, sy’n rhoi manylion am y modd y bydd cyllid yn cael ei ddyrannu yn ystod ac ar ôl yr argyfwng. 

Mae cyllideb Llywodraeth Cymru wedi cynyddu o fwy na 10% ar gyfer y flwyddyn ariannol gyfredol – dyrennir £ 2.4bn i gynorthwyo Cymru gyda’i hymdrechion COVID-19. 

Dywedodd Ms Howe: “Mae’r pandemig wedi dod â heriau anhygoel, ond mae’r modd yr ydym yn ei oresgyn yn rhoi i ni ‘gyfle sy’n digwydd unwaith mewn cenhedlaeth. 

“Rhaid i’r gyllideb nodi newid cyfeiriad i ailosod ein heconomi a datrys methiannau’r gorffennol gyda meddwl beiddgar, cydweithredol, cynhwysol, a dewrder gwleidyddol. 

“Mae angen iddi fynd i’r afael ag iechyd, yr economi ac argyfyngau parhaus yr hinsawdd a natur er mwyn dyfodol hirdymor Cymru. Mae arnom angen diffiniad newydd o ffyniant, yn seiliedig ar lesiant, a ffordd decach, wyrddach o fyw”.  

Mewn papur a ysgrifennwyd gandddi dywed y comisiynydd yn ei rôl fel amddiffynnydd cenedlaethau’r dyfodol rhag gweithredoedd gwleidyddol heddiw, bod yn rhaid i weinidogion yn awr ddangos dewrder gwleidyddol gan ganolbwyntio mwy ar ansawdd bywyd na Chynnyrch Domestig Gros, wrth i’r wlad gychwyn ar y broses ailadeiladu tra bo cyfyngiadau yn parhau yn eu lle i atal lledaeniad COVID-19. 

Mae mwy o fuddsoddiad yn yr economi carbon isel yn hanfodol, ac yn y tymor byr, mae Ms Howe yn awgrymu y gallai’r rhai sydd wedi colli swyddi ac incwm yn ystod y pandemig gael eu hailsgilio a’u cyflogi yn yr economi gwyrdd. 

Ymhlith ei hargymhellion mae’n nodi pecyn ysgogi gwerth miliynau o bunnoedd i gynorthwyo datgarboneiddio stoc dai Cymru – gan ariannu tai fforddiadwy carbon isel newydd a lansio rhaglen ôl-osod genedlaethol i wella effeithlonrwydd ynni mewn cartrefi presennol. 

Byddai’r manteision i iechyd pobl, yr amgylchedd, y swyddi sy’n cael eu creu ac – yn hollbwysig – stoc dai Cymru, meddai Ms Howe, yn gorbwyso’r gost amcangyfrifedig o fwy na £ 500m y flwyddyn. 

Wrth i filoedd barhau i weithio gartref – gan leihau’r pwysau ar rwydweithiau trafnidiaeth a lleihau allyriadau carbon – mae’r comisiynydd eisiau buddsoddiad ar gyfer gwella cysylltedd digidol. 

Cymeradwyodd Ms Howe ymrwymiad £ 25m Llywodraeth Cymru i ariannu gwelliannau trafnidiaeth i gerddwyr a beicwyr gan awdurdodau lleol ledled Cymru, a dywedodd fod yn rhaid i hyn fod yn rhan o gynllun hirdymor.  

Fe ddaw wrth i symudiadau i bedestreiddio canol Bryste gael eu datgelu fel rhan o’u hymateb i argyfwng COVID-19. Mae’r ddinas hefyd yn ennyn diddordeb preswylwyr wrth gynllunio ffyrdd newydd o ddefnyddio lleoedd sy’n bodoli eisoes – gyda syniadau sy’n dod i’r amlwg yn cynnwys pedestreiddio ffyrdd cerbydau deuol cyfan. 

Mewn mannau eraill, mae Milan – un o’r dinasoedd â’r mwyaf o dagfeydd yn Ewrop – yn trawsnewid 35km o strydoedd yn ‘barthau’r dyfodol’, lle gall pobl gerdded a beicio’n ddiogel.  

Dylid symud adnoddau hefyd fel y gellir adfer cynefinoedd naturiol Cymru, gyda choridorau gwyrdd yn cysylltu’r wlad a mwy o fuddsoddi mewn plannu’r goedwig genedlaethol newydd.  

Bydd meddwl yn y modd hwn, medd y comisiynydd, nid yn unig yn helpu bywyd gwyllt, ond yn atgyfnerthu amddiffynfeydd llifogydd a gallu’r genedl i wynebu heriau’r newid yn yr hinsawdd a chreu swyddi. 

Mae Ms Howe eisiau i’r Llywodraeth, yn eu hymateb i’r argyfwng, ddefnyddio deddfwriaeth y Ddeddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol ynghyd â’i Hadroddiad Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol newydd a’i chynllun deg pwynt ar gyfer ariannu’r argyfwng hinsawdd 

Mae’r Adroddiad Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol yn awgrymu bod Llywodraeth Cymru’n gweithio gyda chyrff cyhoeddus i gyflawni 20% o orchudd canopi coed ym mhob tref a dinas yng Nghymru erbyn 2030. 

Dywedodd Ms Howe: Roedd ein heconomi cyn COVID-19 yn blaenoriaethu twf economaidd gan orfodi llawer o bobl i dlodi, a arweiniodd yn ei dro at boblogaeth afiach sy’n arbennig o agored i argyfwng fel pandemig.  

Mae’n hollbwysig bod ein cyllideb yn mynd i’r afael â phethau na fedrwn fforddio eu hanwybyddu – megis yr argyfwng iechyd presennol, yr argyfwng economaidd a sbardunwyd gan y pandemig ac argyfwng parhaus yr hinsawdd a natur. 

Rwy’n awyddus i weithio gyda phartneriaid a sefydliadau i gynorthwyo Llywodraeth Cymru i ddatblygu ymateb i’r argyfwng a fydd yn caniatáu i Gymru ‘adeiladu nôl yn well’. 

 

Pum argymhelliad Comisiynydd Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol… 

  1. Datblygu pecyn ysgogi economaidd sy’n arwain at greu swyddi ac sy’n cynorthwyo datgarboneiddio cartrefi, drwy adeiladu tai newydd carbon isel fforddiadwy a buddsoddi mewn rhaglen genedlaethol i wella effeithlonrwydd ynni cartrefi presennol.
  2. Buddsoddi mewn gwell dulliau o gysylltu a symud pobl, drwy wella cysylltedd digidol, teithio llesol a thrafnidiaeth gyhoeddus.
  3. Buddsoddi mewn sgiliau a hyfforddiant i gynorthwyo’r trawsnewid i well dyfodol, gan greu swyddi newydd gwyrddach. 
  4. Buddsoddi mewn natur a rhoi blaenoriaeth i ariannu a chymorth graddfa fawr i adferiad cynefinoedd a bywyd gwyllt, creu a chysylltedd ledled Gymru – yn cynnwys ar gyfer amddiffynfeydd llifogydd naturiol, gweithredu’r goedwig genedlaethol newydd a sicrhau bod rheoli defnydd tir ac amaeth yn cynorthwyo sicrhad cadwyni bwyd lleol a dosbarthu. 
  5. Buddsoddi yn niwydiannau a thechnolegau’r dyfodol, a chynorthwyo busnesau, a fydd yn helpu Cymru i arwain y chwyldro carbon isel a chloi cyfoeth a swyddi mewn ardaloedd lleol gyda buddsoddiad yn yr economi sylfaenol. 

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Decarbonised and Inclusive Mobility in a Post-pandemic World

When we choose to travel

It should not have required a pandemic to force a greater take-up of remote working and video conferencing, but as an intervention it has certainly been effective in illustrating the viability of reducing business travel, while increasing opportunities for connection. Continuing such practices could reduce the aggregate need for travel. We may also see a temporal shift in mobility patterns due to the greater adoption of flexible and remote working, which could remove or reduce the ‘rush hour’ – positively impacting both climate change and local air quality through a reduction in congestion.

Flexible and remote working has been proven to contribute to equality, diversity and inclusion. At the same time, improved use of technology is are enhancing inclusivity by removing barriers to participation – for example, Arup’s  Virtual Engage tool has removed the need for stakeholders to travel to consultation events, while maintaining the traditional ‘community hall’ concept and feel. There are myriad ways in which technological solutions can be adopted to promote connection and engagement, which can be a great ‘leveller’, with greater flexibility for those with caring responsibilities, or those less able to travel for any reason.

How we choose to travel

We are seeing the emergence of new perspectives on likely modal shift and behavioural changes in how we chose to travel as a result of the pandemic. Accelerating the shift towards active travel and public transport, rather than private passenger vehicles is at the top of the decarbonisation agenda, as laid out in the Department for Transport’s Decarbonising Transport document. Whether we can adopt the scale of reduction in car travel observed in lock-down is questionable, but not an excuse for inaction.

Active Travel

Policy makers have an opportunity to nudge behaviour towards active travel through interventions such as safer cycling and walking infrastructure. This can capitalise on the momentum created by behavioural change observed during lockdown. The Greener Grangetown project in Cardiff, has re-designed the streetscape around green infrastructure and reduced traffic. Integral to the project are rain gardens, street trees, seating, cycle parking and bike hire docks, creating an interesting and engaging place to walk, cycle and spend time. Residents and community groups have been encouraged to get involved with planting flowerbeds, embankments and rain gardens and help to care for the areas, enhancing the sense of community. Increased community pride and social interaction has been shown to help reduce crime and antisocial behaviour. The scheme exemplifies the interconnectedness between active travel, and the wider community. We can take inspiration from this and further projects where this is evidenced.

Public Transport

Public transport providers face significant challenges emerging from the Covid-19 crisis. In a decarbonised society, public transport must, alongside active travel, be the primary means of travel. This will in turn contribute to tackling inequality, by providing enhanced services for those with the greatest need.

There is the potential, post-Covid-19, to see the rise of demand-responsive models (which could also be designed around social distancing). Arup’s guidance report You’ve declared a climate emergency… Next steps: Transport includes a case study on Bwcabus – a demand-responsive bus service developed in partnership between public sector and transport service providers in Carmarthensire and Ceredigion. Passengers book journeys in advance over the phone and are collected from their nearest bus stop or their home if they have a disability. 51% of users stated they now use public transport more frequently and 81% of car owners stated they used their car less since the introduction of Bwcabus. This type of initiative, alongside digital initiatives (such as public transport apps), alongside further integration of different modes of travel and payment platforms, offer opportunities to improve the user experience and nudge behaviour towards public transport, at the same time as enhancing accessibility.

Decarbonising road travel

Private vehicle transport, where it remains, will be characterised by a shift towards electrification. Public investment in charging infrastructure is essential and has started happening at pace to keep up with projected demand and to inspire consumer confidence to make the switch.

Understanding the type of charging required, and where it needs to be, is linked to demographics and inclusivity. Electric vehicle users can charge at home, on the street, at destination, or en route – with each type of location likely to offer different charging speeds. Early adopters of electric vehicles have been stereotyped as those who can afford a Tesla – typically white, middle-aged and male. To represent the need for future charging infrastructure in this way as electric vehicles start to permeate into the mass market would be a misjudgement. As 30% of UK housing stock does not have off-street parking, many people will need on-street charging facilities to charge near their homes. In other circumstances, access to parent and child or mobility parking spaces might be needed alongside charging, and it should be recognised that the needs of users are not mutually exclusive. The London Electric Vehicle Taskforce is keen to highlight in its delivery plan that to increase consumer confidence, access to public charge points must include priority groups that need extra support. It is too early to judge the successful adoption of this approach, but it is intended that forthcoming Welsh Government Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy, supported by Arup, will consider these priorities when investing in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Now is the time to grasp the opportunity to build back better mobility solutions, that are sustainable, inclusive, and that make a real contribution to our decarbonised future.


This article has been written by Helen Westhead from ARUP as part of our weekly Cynnal Coffee Club conversations, to share learning and explore positive actions we can take forward to ensure a more resilient and sustainable future.

Helen leads the Environment team at Arup in Cardiff, delivering projects, policy and strategy to drive decarbonisation in response to the climate emergency. She works across discipline boundaries, to align low carbon mobility with energy, and is currently supporting Welsh Government and Transport for Wales to deliver electric vehicle charging.

Arup

Arup is an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, architects, consultants and technical specialists, working across every aspect of today’s built environment. Together we help our clients solve their most complex challenges – turning exciting ideas into tangible reality as we strive to find a better way and shape a better world.

Carbon Literacy Cartrefi Cymru – Housing Associations Come Together to Accelerate Decarbonisation in Wales

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In January 2020 a consortium of 27 Housing Associations and social housing providers in Wales came together with Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales and the award-winning Carbon Literacy Project to launch ‘Carbon Literacy Cartrefi Cymru’.

carbon literacy consortium partner logos

This move follows the precedent of CL4RPs (Carbon Literacy for Registered Providers) in Manchester, the home of Carbon Literacy. CL4RPs is a consortium of 21 housing providers that have worked together to design and deliver Carbon Literacy courses for tenants, staff, senior managers and board members.

In Wales, we have secured commitment from 27 organisations to develop similar courses. The members of the Wales wide consortium anticipate that they will share ideas, exchange knowledge and possibly enter into commercial agreements to speed up the decarbonisation of the social housing and care sector in Wales.

The Chief Executives and Directors of the 27 organisations agreed in principle to work together on a four-phase plan to accelerate change and Cynnal Cymru will begin training colleagues from the consortium members from February.

Carbon Literacy is:

“An awareness of the carbon dioxide costs and impacts of everyday activities, and the ability and motivation to reduce emissions, on an individual, community and organisational basis.” 

Cynnal Cymru has worked closely with Linc Cymru Ltd., the Carbon Literacy Project and CL4RPs to jointly develop a four phased approach to establish the consortium and design the training with a subsequent ‘train the trainer’ roll out across Wales.

This is the second Carbon Literacy consortium that Cynnal Cymru have helped to nurture in Wales following Carbon Literacy training with National Museum Wales. Staff at the National Museum Wales and the independent museum sector in Wales are now collaborating with Manchester museums to design their own Carbon Literacy programme for staff.

Scott Sanders, Linc Cymru CEO

“The creation of the Carbon Literacy Cartrefi Cymru consortium demonstrates the mature approach that Welsh RSL’s are taking to collaborate and generate benefits that go beyond the potential of individual businesses.  The consortia is at an early stage but carries the potential to deliver even greater benefits as investment planning commences.”

 

Rhodri Thomas from Cynnal Cymru said:

 “We are pleased and proud to have played our part in creating a consortium of Housing Associations and social housing providers in Wales that will collaborate to develop Carbon Literacy training and decarbonisation action plans.”

 

Photo Credit: Carbon Literacy Project

Photo: Members of the South Wales cohort of the Carbon Literacy Cartrefi Cymru consortium.

 


Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales is the leading organisation for Sustainable Development in Wales. Working across Wales, across sector we connect and support organisations to share learning, challenge thinking and mobilise action.

Cynnal Cymru is the official partner of the Carbon Literacy Project in Wales, offering certified Carbon Literacy training.

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£21m for air quality improvements in Cardiff after Minister approves final plan

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Environment Minister, Lesley Griffiths has awarded Cardiff Council £21m to implement a series of measures to improve air quality after she approved its revised clean air proposals.

In February 2018, the Welsh Government instructed Cardiff Council to undertake a feasibility study to identify measures to address illegal nitrogen dioxide exceedances in the shortest possible time.

In June 2019, Cardiff Council submitted its final Plan. It proposed a package of measures including:

– a bus retrofitting programme to lower emissions,
– taxi mitigation measures,
– city centre transport improvements and;
– an active travel package making it easier for people to walk and cycle in the city centre.
– An Independent Review Panel, appointed by the Welsh Government, assessed the Plan and recommended it be accepted, albeit with a number of caveats.

Cardiff Council was asked to provide further clarity their identified package of measures was the route most likely to achieve compliance in the soonest time possible. This included a request for further evidence to justify why a charging Clean Air Zone was not a suitable option.

After full consideration and advice from the Independent Review Panel, the Minister has accepted the revised final plan. The Minister confirmed she is content Cardiff’s preferred option of non-charging measures is likely to achieve the legal requirement and deliver a marked and sustained reduction in emissions. The scheme will also provide further benefits more widely across the city centre.

Following approval of the Plan the Welsh Government will award Cardiff Council £21m to implement the air quality improvement measures included in it.

The Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said:

“Improving air quality across Wales is a Welsh Government priority. I am grateful to Cardiff Council for all of the work they have undertaken during this process and their clear commitment and dedication to delivering a solution to support air quality benefits for the city.

“We will shortly confirm a funding award to meet the costs of the preferred option, and will continue to work closely with Cardiff Council on the programme of activity to ensure urgent compliance with nitrogen dioxide limit values”.

Cardiff County Cllr Caro Wild, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, added:

“This is very welcome news indeed and will enable us to get to work improving air quality in the city centre, especially around Castle Street, which surveys show was most likely to breach EU pollution limits by 2021. Everyone living, working and visiting Cardiff has the right to breathe in clean air and this grant will allow us to put in place measures which will reduce pollution.

“Our team has worked hand in glove with Welsh Government to arrive at solutions we know will work quickly here in Cardiff. I want to thank Welsh Government for their input, it shows what can be done when cities and government work closely together to benefit citizens. We have stolen a march on most other major regional cities who are still developing their clean air plans.

“Air pollution on Castle Street is the symptom of a wider problem which extends far beyond this stretch of road. We may be within legal limits across the city, but the cleaner we can make the air the better it will be for everyone. Next week we will publish a 10-year vision for transport which will build on this announcement, delivering a greener city for residents and future generations.”[:]

Partnership project to deliver 3,500 healthy homes in Neath Port Talbot

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This January will see the ground-breaking Healthy Homes Healthy People project arrive in Neath Port Talbot. Run by a local Community Interest Company, with the support of a dozen local organisations, the project is set to make a real difference to people who are struggling to pay their bills or heat their homes.

Healthy Homes Healthy People is delivered with financial backing from Wales & West Utilities, the support of Neath Port Talbot Council and a range of partners. Running since 2018 the project has already saved householders in three Welsh counties more than £1.3 million, and is looking to deliver the same benefits for residents in Neath Port Talbot.

Healthy Homes Healthy People is delivered by our team of Community Workers who will be attending events and visiting households across the county. They can offer detailed energy efficiency advice as well as a range of free advice and support.

Help on offer includes; energy efficiency advice, heating measures, home safety advice and improvements, reducing utility bills, advising on benefit availability, making partner referrals and much more besides.

The team will be starting work in Aberavon and Sandfields and over the next 12 months in Neath and Port Talbot are planning to deliver energy efficiency advice to 3,500 homes and carry out more than 300 in-depth face-to-face appointments.

Jonathan Cosson, Director of Warm Wales, talked about the achievements of the project in Cardiff.

“After running the project in Cardiff, we know that our Community Workers are making a real difference. We’ve been delighted with the overall savings achieved through Healthy Homes Healthy People and with the dozens of individual testimonials we’ve received. These comments make very clear how much a saving on a water bill or a benefit referral means to someone on low income.”

With schemes in Cardiff and RCT completed, we have partnered with Neath Port Talbot Council to expand the project. It’s very much a team effort and we’ll be working alongside Welsh Water, Care & Repair, Citizens Advice, Tai Tarian, Coastal Housing, NPT Foodbank, Nest and Thrive, to deliver real benefits to householders.

The project is getting underway in January 2020 with the community team starting in Sandfields East, Sandfields West and Aberavon. The project is also accepting direct referrals from householders which can be made by visiting the Warm Wales website.[:]

RenewableUK Cymru welcomes EDF Renewables plans for 110MW windfarm

[:en]RenewableUK Cymru has welcomed EDF Renewables announcement of a plans to develop a wind farm called Garn Fach, south of Newtown, Powys, in partnership with 14 local farming families.

The project is likely to consist of up to 22 turbines, each producing around 5 MW. That’s 110MW capable of generating enough low carbon electricity for the domestic needs of 66,000 households*. Ahead of submitting a planning application for the wind farm at the end of 2020, EDF R has been carrying out ecological and other feasibility surveys.

Today (Thursday 9th January), EDF R is submitting an environmental scoping report to the Welsh Government and an application to Powys County Council to erect a met mast on site to gather accurate wind speed data. EDF R is committed to an annual community benefit fund for Garn Fach of £5,000 per MW, which could be around £550,000 (depending on the final capacity of the project) per year available for local causes, or £16.5 million over the 30-year lifetime of the project.

The wind farm will also have the potential for local ownership, with opportunities for local people and organisations to invest and have a stake in the project.

RenewableUK Cymru Head Rhys Wyn Jones said “It’s great to see plans announced for a project that could make a vital contribution to meeting carbon emission reduction and renewable power targets in Wales, with all the economic benefits investment that onshore wind brings to local economies as well as consumers. We’re seeing new market opportunities to bring forward onshore wind projects at different scales but to meet our net zero emissions target at lowest cost, we need to see the new UK Government set an energy strategy which supports onshore wind. New projects must be allowed to compete for UK Government-backed contracts to generate power and we need to update our planning rules so that we can use the latest technology and replace older wind farms with new turbines.  Welsh Government also has a vital role to play in ensuring the planning regime underpinning larger renewable energy developments is fit for a new decade”.

* Load factors based on the five-year rolling averages on unchanged configuration basis using Table 6.5 of ‘Digest of UK Energy Statistics’ – latest figures as per July 2019 release[:]

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