Engagement and Participation

How the CLCC is breaking down barriers in climate education

Since its inception, 75 members have become trainers and 157 individuals have certified as carbon literate. CLCC’s Project Lead (Luke Penny) and Facilitator (Fiona Humphreys) were interviewed by Abi Hoare Development Officer at Cynnal Cymru to share the story behind the collaboration.

What is the CLCC?

Carbon Literacy Cartrefi Cymru (CLCC) is a consortium of 27 different housing associations in Wales, which have individually contributed resources to increase Carbon Literacy throughout Welsh social housing.

Through peer-to-peer delivery, the project provides the tools necessary for individual tenants to understand the causes and consequences of climate change, as well as empower them to act upon their choices. At the close of 2021, 75 trainers were involved, and 157 individuals had been certified as Carbon Literate, even though most independent courses weren’t due to start until 2022.

What is a consortium?

Effectively, a consortium is a formal collaboration, where people work together to achieve a common objective. In this instance, the common objective is to certify as many Carbon Literate individuals as possible within housing associations – both staff and tenants.

How does it work?

Each of the housing associations involved have contributed resources to fund the development of Carbon Literacy delivery within their individual organisations. Currently, 75 staff members have attended Cynnal Cymru’s ‘Train the Trainer’ course to support their teaching.

Even though the delivery is down to the trainer’s own discretion, participants will typically receive a day’s worth of virtual peer-to-peer learning, before submitting an evidence form to become certified. This will feature two pledges that will have a positive effect on carbon reduction at home and in their workplace/ with a group.

What is its main advantage?

Firstly, it removes the ‘us and them’ narrative that dampens climate activism and makes it inaccessible. One of the difficulties with climate change discourse, is that it’s difficult to know where to start if you have no formal education.

By providing Carbon Literacy training through housing associations, the course can give individuals the starting block they need that they may not have had the time, money, or knowledge to access otherwise.

How has working in collaboration increased action on Carbon Literacy?

In simple terms, by training new trainers, more individuals can take part in the Carbon Literacy Project than before. Not to mention, the resulting network and Communities of Practice are providing moral support that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

The energy and excitement of the CLCC’s trainers is what makes all the difference, so having a safe space to share experiences and challenges has helped significantly.

What role does Cynnal Cymru play in the consortium?

Cynnal Cymru acts purely within a secretariat and facilitator role. It has no specific requirements within the project, besides its initial creation and providing the necessary tools and support. What housing associations and trainers choose to do with Carbon Literacy beyond that is entirely their own decision.

What’s next for the CLCC?

A second version of the course is currently in development based upon the feedback received in the Communities of Practice, but the next big step is translating the course and delivering it entirely in Welsh.

In time, there is the possibility of starting new Carbon Literacy consortiums in different sectors or industries where Cynnal Cymru are available to offer that inception and on-going support role.

Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly report and recommendations published

The Assembly was held virtually over two weekends in March and brought together over 40, randomly selected, demographically representative, people living in the county borough to deliberate the very important question: “What should we do in Blaenau Gwent to tackle the climate crisis in a way that is fair and improves living standards for everyone?”

The Climate Assembly adopted five recommendations relating to transport, housing and green space, which achieved over 80% support. These recommendations were written by the Assembly members themselves and informed by presentations from climate change experts.

You can view the recommendations and the report in full here

This report was drafted by Cynnal Cymru and the Electoral Reform Society Cymru, two of the organising partners of the Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly.

In September last year the Council officially declared a Climate Emergency in Blaenau Gwent. Next week, all borough councillors will have the opportunity to hear from Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly members about their recommendations and consider how they can take this agenda forward.

The Blaenau Gwent Public Services Board, which brings together organisations including the council, health, housing, police and the voluntary sector, have committed to giving a written response to these recommendations at their next meeting in July. This reflects Public Services Board partners’ long-term commitment to Blaenau Gwent playing its full part in taking action to achieve Wales’s target for Net Zero emissions by 2050.

Cllr Dai Davies, the Council’s Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Regeneration & the Economic Development, will be leading the briefing. He says:

“We are absolutely committed as a Council to working with a wide range of partners to do whatever we can to respond locally to this global issue. We recognise the huge challenges that are ahead of us all in trying to protect our environment for the well-being of our future generations. This is why as a Local Authority we declared a Climate Emergency and already started to act through our Decarbonisation Plan. This plan sees us take a more strategic approach towards achieving carbon neutrality by prioritising work in a number of key areas of our operations which, with some changes, can make a significant contribution towards our carbon neutral aim.

“The people at the Climate Assembly were equally passionate about our environment and their recommendations will help to focus our minds even further and tells us what they think is key to tackling this issue. Thank you to everyone who took part for your time.”

The report will also be presented to the Blaenau Gwent Public Services Board, as working with regional partners is key to addressing environmental issues.

Sarah Hopkins, Director, Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales, says:

“The transition to net zero will mean changes to people’s lives so it is vital that communities understand and participate in this journey. Tackling the climate crisis, provides an opportunity to address existing inequalities in Wales and improve lives for everyone. It is really encouraging to see the commitment of Blaenau Gwent Council, the wider PSB and the Housing Associations to listening and responding to the recommendations from the Assembly.

“We hope that other regions in Wales will also adopt similar processes to inform decarbonisation action plans.”

Steve Cranston, Foundational Economy Lead at United Welsh Housing says:

“We are delighted to have been involved in Wales first climate assembly. It shows it is possible to bring a representative sample of people together – and address one of the toughest challenges facing us all – the climate crisis. The Climate Assembly process is one that is respectful of different opinions and builds trust. The top 5 recommendations had overwhelming 80% support from members. This gives these recommendations a weight and credibility that is hard to ignore.

“The process of working together across housing associations, the local authority, civil society organisations and citizens has been a positive one where relationships have been strengthened and trust built.

“The four housing associations who supported the Climate Assembly – Linc Cymru, Melin Homes, Tai Calon and United Welsh – are working on developing a coordinated response to the recommendations. In the key areas of housing retrofit and new build the recommendations will help shape our future priorities.”

The Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly was organised by housing associations United Welsh; Linc Cymru Melin Homes and Tai Calon in partnership with sustainable development charity Cynnal Cymru, Blaenau Gwent Council and ERS Cymru.

The 5 recommendations are:

Transport

  1. Establish an affordable, integrated road & rail transport system accessible throughout BG. A one ticket system that links to bus, rail & cycle schemes – inclusivity for purchasing of tickets (digital or paper). Accessible all hours with safety via lighting, CCTV and to keep maintained.
  2. Establish & improve a safe, easily maintainable infrastructure for walkers & cyclists, for either recreational or work purposes, with access to the public transport network. Including lighting & CCTV & storage for bikes.

Housing

  1. Retrofit Train local tradespeople, create qualifications and upskill local businesses, involve FE colleges and local Universities, future proof it and provide the right courses to enable them to do the work in all green construction.

Green Space and Nature

  1. Implement a programme of woodland preservation and reforestation of BG, using the right tree in the right place for the right reason, increasing opportunities for jobs, biodiversity and connecting woodlands. Making sure the skills are available so we can create green jobs, e.g. saw milling and timber framed housing.

Housing New Build

  1. Ensure that all new build properties are built using the latest sustainable technologies (e.g. Glanffrwd development as a template), employing local builders and providing a variety of accommodation types appropriate for all inc. homeless/single occupancy up to large families.
Illustration of Blaenau Gwent area

Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly Report

The Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly was held from 6 – 28 March 2021.

The Assembly took place online via Zoom. 50 residents of Blaenau Gwent were selected by sortition to address the question:

“What should we do in Blaenau Gwent to tackle the climate crisis in a way that is fair and improves living standards for everyone?”

44 participants attended the first assembly session and 43 participants were present at the final session for voting on recommendations.

Attendance was stable throughout all sessions with 43 being the lowest attendance.

The members met for a total of 23 hours to hear evidence from over 20 different experts, discuss the issues, and produce recommendations for what local public service organisations, communities and individuals could do to address the climate crisis and improve lives for people in Blaenau Gwent.

The assembly members explored the following themes in the learning phase:
• Introduction to climate change
• Issues of fairness and the just transition
• How change happens
• Housing – retrofit, new build, fuel poverty, jobs & skills
• Nature and green space
• Transport

The agenda, videos of sessions and additional questions for speakers can be found on the website.

Download the report.

‘Collectively we demand change’ – Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly published recommendations

The Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly has spent the last four weeks designing and deliberating on proposals to tackle climate change in Blaenau Gwent.

The final proposals were presented and voted on during the Assemblies final session on Sunday (28 March).

Five key recommendations were passed with over 80% of the assembly members support across areas such as transport, housing and green spaces including:

  • The establishment of an affordable, integrated road and rail transport system in Blaenau Gwent with a one-ticket system for bus, rail and cycle schemes
  • Establishing safe and easily maintainable infrastructure for walkers and cyclists
  • New training for local tradespeople, qualifications and upskilling to increase green construction skills across the borough
  • Implementing a programme of woodland preservation and reforestation increasing opportunities for jobs, biodiversity and connecting woodlands.
  • Ensure new housing is developed with the latest sustainable techniques

The final report of the Assembly will be published the week of 18 April 2021. A full list of recommendations can be found here.

Michelle Morris, Managing Director, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council said:

“I would like thank everyone who took the time to take part in Wales’ first climate assembly. The Council and Public Service Board welcome the views of local people and their ideas for dealing with the climate crisis.

“Climate change is a global issue and it’s absolutely vital that we act now to protect our environment for the well-being of future generations and the recommendations from the Assembly are vital for us as the Welsh public sector when we develop our long term plans to shape our approach to tackling the challenges ahead.

“We’re already taking a number of actions as part of our Decarbonisation plan to reduce our carbon impact. The 5 recommendations from the Climate Assembly will help us to prioritise our work in a number of key areas and these will make a significant contribution towards our carbon neutral aim.”

Jess Blair, Director, ERS Cymru said:

“The Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly shows what happens when you do politics differently – brining a community together and providing them with the space to deliberate on important issues in their local area. . This was Wales’ first climate assembly but we hope it will not be the last.”

“Citizen participation is vital in local decision making, it brings legitimacy, builds trust and shows that, when given the support, ordinary people can help shape their communities and come up with valuable solutions to important issues.

“Now the assembly is has spoken we look forward to seeing how Blaenau Gwent responds to their recommendations.”

Matt, Participant, Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly said:

“I found the climate assembly a really rewarding experience. I was able to connect with many different types of people from all walks of life within Blaenau Gwent to talk about a common goal.

“Some of the evidence that we talked about certainly shocked me, but it was comforting to know that the solutions are really within our own hands and I’m really looking forward to having our recommendations evaluated, and hopeful some will be taken forward to make a real difference within Blaenau Gwent so that we can really start to see some positive change.”

Sunita, Participant, Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly said:

“Before taking part in the climate assembly, I was aware of the causes and the effects of climate change and have always been passionate about doing everything that I can to make a difference on an individual level.
“I have learnt so much from my experience as an Assembly Member; from recognising that there is a lack of awareness about climate change on a local and national level, to understanding the level of interest and passion from the people of Blaenau Gwent to make things better.

“Collectively we demand change from our council and our government. We urge the council and the governing bodies to listen to our recommendations that we as an assembly decided on and act upon them.

“We will not stop here. We will continue to learn. We will persist to make sure that our voices are heard. We will strive to make a positive difference in our own lives and in the communities around us.”


The assembly, was the first deliberative democratic event of its kind in Wales, brought 50 Blaenau Gwent residents together with expert speakers to develop proposals to address the climate crisis in their area.

The participants have been selected to be demographically representative of the wider Blaenau Gwent community representing the views and backgrounds of the borough’s residents.

Participants spent four weeks hearing from over 20 expert speakers on a range of issues including housing, fuel poverty, transport, nature and green space, jobs and skills before considering the evidence, make and vote on recommendations.

These will be sent to the Blaenau Gwent Public Service Board’s Climate Mitigation Steering Group, who have made a commitment to respond to the recommendations.

Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly

In March 2021, it will bring together 50 people from the Blaenau Gwent area to address the question:

What should we do in Blaenau Gwent to tackle the climate crisis in a way that is fair and improves living standards for everyone?

The participants will hear evidence, discuss the issues, and produce recommendations for what local public service organisations, communities and individuals can do to address the climate crisis. The recommendations made will be considered by organisations including Blaenau Gwent Council and will help to shape the climate plans of local housing associations.

The Climate Assembly will explore the overarching question through learning about, and discussion of related sub-themes including housing, nature / green space and transport.

Lead Experts will present information on climate change and the sub-themes to provide context for the discussions.

The Assembly is being organised by four housing associations in Blaenau Gwent in collaboration with Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, Electoral Reform Society, Cynnal Cymru.

A Steering Group has been established to oversee the organisation and format of the Assembly.

Find out more >>

people at networking event

How to Innovate Our Way out of a Looming Ecological Crisis

Rare is the platform where you are genuinely among friends. Particularly when that platform debates thorny issues such as eco-design, industrial ecology, waste, the circular economy and sharing. But let there be no doubt, Cynnal Cymru’s ‘Show and tell’ event was precisely that; an opportunity to share ideas and push, pull, knead and shape new thinking in the perfect environment. I was delighted to be sharing this particular platform with Creative Director Chris Carpenter of Stills branding – a true advocate of the need for change – and the passionate and knowledgeable Dr Frank O’Connor. Our presentations were the same yet different; how to innovate our way out of a looming ecological crisis, how to conceptualise our use of resources with greater wisdom and foresight, how to spread a message so crucial to our shared futures.

It is this latter theme that I’d like to pick up on. As the General Manager of an industrial company, I regularly rub shoulders with professionals who know or care little about sustainability. The word is somehow tainted with negative connotations. For ‘sustainability’ read ‘cost’, ‘burden’, ‘workload’ or ‘idealistic’. This attitude represents a failure to understand the nature and importance of sustainability and the predicament that our current economic model leaves us in. It is also perhaps representative of endless exposure to – and the rather cynical curse of –  ‘greenwash’ by larger or rival corporations.  But to consign organisational approaches to sustainability to the (recycling) bin, is a failure to identify a rich seam of creativity and innovation that could radically change an organisation, its place in the market and its future legacy. Take eco-design and Life Cycle Assessment for instance. Using ED and LCA at Odoni-Elwell has led to several major benefits. We’ve put our processes under the microscope, eliminating areas of waste (saving money), redesigned our larger buildings and established a model for recovery of product at end of life (a recovery process that should both dispose/reuse waste appropriately and result in an ongoing relationship with our customer). But arguably the biggest thing that we’ve achieved is the knowledge that we at least are trying to do things right, even when there are times when we get things wrong.

‘Show and tell’ is a wonderful concept. Ideas. Honesty. Dialogue. I’d encourage more (all?) manufacturing organisations to get involved. There is vast potential alongside the issues. And after all; a problem shared is a problem halved.

Simon Nurse (Systems Designer and Manager at Odoni-Elwell

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