Natural Environment

Future CAR:DIFF | exploring a ‘citizen-centric’ approach to sustainable transport

[:en]Following on from our Future CAR:DIFF event held last week, Dr Katie Beverley, Senior Research Officer at PDR, summarises and reflects on the presentations, Q&A and discussions, a number of key themes emerged, as discussed below.

I was delighted to be invited to attend and summarise Cynnal Cymru’s most recent event in a series that is exploring the future of the car, and more generally, sustainable mobility.  Participants were asked to consider the role that electric vehicles could play in reducing the carbon emissions associated with personal transport in Cardiff, prompted by presentations from expert speakers on a wide range of mobility-related issues.

Key theme 1: A move towards more sustainable mobility is not only about protecting the environment

Councillor Huw Thomas, the leader of Cardiff City Council set the scene with eye-opening statistics about the city.  He reminded us that Cardiff is one of the fastest-growing cities in the UK; this growth, whilst welcome, has put unprecedented pressure on the city’s infrastructure.  90,000 people commute into Cardiff, and 80% of those journeys are made by car.  The resulting congestion has a bigger economic impact on business than in any other UK city – the average commuter spends 32 hours a year in traffic around Cardiff.  There are significant health impacts associated with the high levels of vehicle emissions; Cardiff has some of the highest levels of nitrogen dioxides in the UK, and air pollution is now a more pressing public health concern than alcoholism or obesity in the city.  This issue was also addressed by Mark Barry, Professor of Practice in Connectivity at Cardiff University, who pointed out that, alongside air quality issues, driving is relatively dangerous – there were 6,853 road accident casualties in Wales in 2016, including 103 fatalities.  Further, the health and well-being impacts associated with vehicle use fall disproportionately on the more disadvantaged parts of the community.


Talybont Energy – one of many examples of electric mobility for rural communities | Paul Niewenhaus | The Electric Vehicle Centre of Excellence (EVCE) at Cardiff University

But it is not all doom and gloom.  Paul Niewenhaus, Co-Director of the Electric Vehicle Centre of Excellence at Cardiff University, and John McCarthy, Leader of Intelligent Mobility at Arup, were both at pains to point out that a well-planned mobility strategy can deliver multiple benefits.  In his presentation, Paul highlighted that delocalised production of electricity from renewable energy can open up electric mobility for rural communities, and provided examples of grass roots organisations in the Brecons exploring just that.  Meanwhile, John talked more broadly about ACES – Autonomous, Collective, Electric and Shared – mobility solutions which can benefits in terms of social justice (addressing inclusivity, public health and inequality), together with economic benefits associated with the higher level skills needed to support mobility as a service.  In addition, the breakout group identified individual health benefits associated with active travel, as well as the broader benefits identified by Huw Thomas in reducing road traffic; 8% of commutes are conducted by cycle and walking is becoming an increasing part of city mobility, with 70 million trips per year made on foot.


Key theme 2:  Electric vehicles cannot be considered in isolation: a systems approach is crucial

Huw Thomas spoke of Cardiff City Council’s ambition of a ‘50/50 modal shift’, in which half of all journeys will be made by public transport and 50% by car.  Personal electric vehicles are not accessible for all; initial costs and access to home refuelling are major challenges. Any mobility solution for Cardiff must be integrated, taking into account housing, infrastructure and business networks, and equitable, meeting the needs of all residents. This view was supported by Alan Hendry, Director of Sustainability at Jacobs, who presented examples of best practice in sustainable mobility from around the UK.  Common to most was a strong alignment with other local policy objectives (e.g. health, well-being, social justice, air quality).  Mark Barry highlighted the challenges to providing integrated mobility in Cardiff, describing public transport in Cardiff as ‘fragmented’, and arguing that people are not currently incentivised to use it.  The need to involve multiple parties in developing a mobility plan was stressed by Alan Hendry, who emphasised the importance of public/private partnerships, and John McCarthy, who talked of a mobility ecosystem, explaining ‘no one company can solve all these problems’.


Issues regarding the integration of electric vehicles into existing systems were also raised, particularly charging.  The problem of when to charge a vehicle was discussed by Anthony Simpson of Reading University.  Currently, charging tends to occur at peak grid times; smart charging is the Economy 7 of the electric vehicle world, drawing down charge at times of low drain on the national grid, helping to address predictions of grid overload as the number of electric vehicles grows.  Meanwhile, Paul Niewenhaus briefly discussed an alternative approach to balancing out supply and demand in the grid, explaining that excess supply of renewable energy could be used to produce hydrogen through electrolysis and subsequently fuel cars. The issue of where to charge was also tackled: Huw Thomas described on-going investigations into providing public charging in terraced housing areas and Mark Severn, UK Sales Manager for Chargemaster, described Polar, the UK’s biggest public charging network, linking together over 5,000 public charging points.  Mark Barry, however, questioned the need for thousands of charging points – could other models such as battery stations (as opposed to petrol stations) work, and be easier to implement?

The breakout group discussed whether charging concern was a barrier to adoption of electric vehicles.  Amongst the group, range anxiety was agreed to be a ‘real thing’, with electric vehicle users describing the different strategies they employ when undertaking long journeys (planning ahead versus hiring an internal combustion car!) and actions that could encourage people to use electric cars for their commute (free charging on site, rapid charging points, free parking as an incentive).

Finally, Paul Niewenhaus sounded a cautionary note, and one that is extremely important in considering the systemic development of a sustainable mobility strategy that includes electric vehicles.  Whilst the electrification of vehicles decreases carbon dioxide emissions at the tailpipe, the embedded carbon dioxide within the vehicles is increased.  A failure to recognise the cradle-to-grave impacts (social, environmental and economic) can lead to burden-shifting to other points in the life cycle and negative unintended consequences.  Therefore, sustainable systems design must always take a life cycle approach.


Key theme 3: The role of the public sector is crucial in promoting sustainable mobility


Alan Hendry presents some of the ‘Mega Trends’ happening globally including France’s move towards only making fully electric or hybrid cars from 2019 | Via the Guardian

Alan Hendry’s presentation identified common factors amongst UK towns and cities exhibiting good practice in sustainable mobility.  Political ambition was identified as a key enabler, with the majority positioning sustainable mobility as a major strand in council policy and sought funding to facilitate it.  Alignment with other policy objectives also enhanced the effectiveness of cross-department working in the public sector.  Paul Niewenhaus described the electric vehicle market as an ‘incentive-driven market’ and discussed the situation in Norway, where a range of incentives had been offered by the public sector to overcome market failure (such as free charging, no sales tax and no congestion charge) and were now being streamlined in the light of increased market traction.  He highlighted the importance of funding from the public sector to support research into effective strategies for promoting the uptake of sustainable transport.  Meanwhile, Huw Thomas spoke of Cardiff City Council’s desire to lead by example, perhaps through adopting electric vehicles as part of the council’s fleet.


Key theme 4: Understanding and empathising with users is central to designing an effective sustainable mobility system

“Truth is, I thought it mattered.  I thought that music mattered.  But does it b******s! Not compared to how people matter..”

DannyOrmondroyd (Pete Postlethwaite), Brassed Off (1996)

A sustainable mobility strategy stands and falls on its uptake.  Taking into account that there are multiple different futures envisaged, and multiple different players involved, any strategy must be designed taking into account the needs of all users.  John McCarthy described ACES strategies as ‘part of a moving jigsaw – although the pieces are the same, they fit together differently everywhere’.  He argued that, in order to fit the pieces in a particular configuration for a given situation, understanding user needs is fundamental, advocating a ‘citizen-centric’ approach to systems design.

Mark Barry described trends in mobility behaviour that indicate that we may be ‘on the edge of a disruptive change’.  Car ownership has been falling since the 1990s, with rail journeys doubling in the same time.  Active travel is becoming more popular amongst people and there is a gradual culture change away from ownership.  Driverless vehicles are developing rapidly and, Mark suggested, will be commonplace in ten years.  Mark presented a radical vision for a future Cardiff where the city is not designed (as now) to accommodate many cars being used infrequently, but fewer cars working harder.  In his vision, Cardiff would become a greener city with safe spaces and people would move around using high-volume mass transit, with autonomous vehicles providing ‘last mile’ solutions in urban environments.  In my experience, this kind of a future is not necessarily obvious to its potential users; we need to find effective ways to present, compare, and communicate multiple positive radical changes if we are to empower citizens to achieve the most appropriate one for them. Further, consultation approaches need to be designed to encourage participation from citizens with different physical and cognitive abilities to ensure that solutions are truly democratic.


Mark Barry, Professor of Practice in Connectivity at Cardiff University highlights the sheer number of cars in every street ‘that spend most of their time doing absolutely nothing!’

Sustainable mobility requires users to engage with new forms of business.  Mark Barry, Paul Niewenhaus and John McCarthy all discussed the concepts of mobility as a service, business models in which transport needs are met through services, rather than vehicle ownership, but it is crucial to understand how these can be designed to meet the latent, intangible needs of users, as well as the explicit, tangible need for mobility.  Mark Barry described the hedonic values currently associated with cars; pleasure, identity, esteem.  The sense of owning a car and having autonomy in transport decision-making can be important to users, and these factors must be taken into account when designing an integrated vision for future transport.  Mark Severn of Chargemaster described the responsive business strategies of the company; systems are designed to fit as closely with the normal behaviour of customers, so as to ‘nudge’ more sustainable behaviour.

The issue of behaviour change was addressed in the breakout group, where we discussed triggers that had prompted positive and negative changes in mobility behaviour.  (It should be taken into account that the group was self-selecting as being predisposed to sustainable travel, through their very attendance at the workshop, and any findings should be treated accordingly).  The consensus amongst this group was that small changes can promote big changes in behaviour.  The ‘bike-to-work’ scheme was identified as a direct incentive to adopt active travel that had knock-on effects for two participants – reconsidering one part of their personal mobility ‘jigsaw’ led them to pay more attention to other pieces – one participant dubbed it ‘mindful travel’.  Amongst participants, it was also noted that changes in routine associated with transport were not necessarily bad.  The active travellers plan ahead for longer journey times and weather conditions, and commuting has become a leisure activity that replaces or supplements other forms of exercise.  Similar planning for change was seen for users of electric vehicles, particularly for long journeys.  However, when active or public transport plans impacted on other people (for example, spouses and children), they were more likely to be dispensed with.  In the case of commuters, company policies could have a negative effect on sustainable travel (one participant explained inflexible working hours meant that active and public transport were precluded for them, owing to childcare demands).  This further underlined the importance of taking a systems approach to the development of travel policy.


Get Involved

This event is the second in a series of events looking at transport issues from the perspective of the car and the challenges and opportunities in reducing congestion, improving air quality and becoming a less car-dependent society. This event was always intended as a starting point and catalyst for future discussions and our ambition is to develop this theme with a wider audience based on some of the outcomes from this event. You can also read more about the thinking behind this topic from Rhodri Thomas, Principal Consultant at Cynnal Cymru.

Future CAR:DIFF | Where are electric cars driving to?

If you are interested in speaking, sponsoring or general getting involved in the discussion please get in contact.[:]

Be bold, be innovative and have fun!

[:en]Last week we hosted the second Sustain Wales Summit in the Principality Stadium and we were wowed by an amazing line up of speakers and organisations that are proof that innovative approaches, products and new business models are really making a difference to business, our communities and our environment in Wales.

The Summit focused on three key themes throughout the day – Connected Communities, Urban Well-being and Buildings for the Future, featuring speakers from Jacobs, Melin, Enterprise, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, Innovate UK, Low Carbon Research Institure, BBC Wales, Constructing Excellence in Wales, Cool-Curve, Caraplace Slate, Principality Stadium and Western Solar.

We started the day with George Ferguson illustrating that political office can be used to give people the permission to be bold, be innovative and crucially to have fun. Risk aversion in the public sector is no longer an option. The time has come for public bodies to learn from and trust entrepreneurs. The vision and commitment of one person or a small group can be transformative. Cool Curve and Carapace, who have been supported by Innovate UK, were excellent examples of this but it is reassuring to know that larger and longer established companies like Dŵr Cymru and Jacobs are also ready to embrace new ideas and take risks.

Here are just a few of the highlights from the day:

Creating Resilient Communities

From Jacobs approach to low carbon technology and smart Living in Neath Port Talbot to Dŵr Cymru’s Rainscape project in Llanelli, we heard inspiring stories of how big organisations are working with local communities to deliver high impact projects. This was a great example of using best practice from around the world to find practical innovative solutions to local issues to improve the resilience of our communities.

We heard how global brands like Enterprise are taking a local community approach to developing alternative mobility solutions, utilising smart technology to encourage behaviour change.


People are central to the story

Lest we think that sustainability is all about technology and the environment Claire Pearce-Crawford from Melin reminded us that people are central to the story.

“If you don’t look after people, don’t expect people to look after the environment!”

Across the board we heard different examples of how core values were at the heart of innovation, building in the needs of people to tackle issues around equality, poverty, well-being and health. Glen Peters from Western Solar illustrated how a values-based approach has led to the creation of sustainable affordable homes that aim to change perceptions of timber built homes and develop an entirely sustainable community.


Making obsolescence obsolete

From the story of how Carapace’s developed a recycled roof slate system to Cool Curve‘s re-manufactured light bulbs. We heard how re-thinking waste into high quality products has multiple benefits for creating a circular economy.

Public Health Wales spoke about their role in promote better health and wellbeing and explained how working collaboratively on the procurement of furniture meant that they were able to create a modern, high quality office environment with only 94% recycled furniture – saving 134 tonnes of CO2.


A case for collaboration

Collaboration emerged as a key theme. Natural ecosystems are living laboratories of sustainability from which we have much to learn. Collaboration, synergy, mutualism, co-operation – these are all core elements to a successful and sustainable ecosystem. Businesses, communities and people must at one time or another, collaborate, communicate and share. This was what characterised the summit – a group of committed, competitive and ambitious people and organisations, coming together to share ideas, start new partnerships and collaborate to create a better world for everyone.

It was also great to hear the latest updates from Darren Crossman, Facilities and Safety Manager of the Principality Stadium who is working collaboratively with other Cynnal Cymru members – Lightology and the Low Carbon Research Institute to implement energy saving measures and the installation of a holistic energy generation system to ensure reliable clean energy for the venue. This fits into a wider aim to become a self-sufficient ‘off grid’ stadium with the capacity to support Cardiff with and the locality with its electrical supply needs. This would be a world first and be an achievement for the Principality Stadium, Cardiff and Wales.


Surprising sustainability stories

One of the more surprising stories to emerge at this year’s Summit was how the production of the BBC’s TV programme Casualty, is housed in a BREEAM outstanding building in Roath Lock in Cardiff and has achieved Albert certification for greener ways of working. The BBC also work collaboratively with their entire supply chain to educate everyone they work with about sustainable practices. Central to the BBC however is their viewers and so the entire organisation aims to demonstrate the need to live more sustainable lifestyles through all their programmes. Find out more here.


Finally a big thank you to all of our sponsors, members and supporters. This vital network is at the heart of everything we do and together we can be bold, innovative and have fun!

As an organisation, Cynnal Cymru is always keen to hear about exciting projects and innovations happening across Wales and we will be calling for applications for the 2017 Sustain Wales Awards from the end of May, so watch this space!


A Living Planet, a Sustainable Economy?

[:en]WWF’s recent Living Planet Report found that humans are putting wildlife and the natural environment under incredible pressure. If we don’t do something about it now, we could see a 67% decline in vertebrate species by 2020.

This is as much a problem here in Wales as it is anywhere. Other recent reports, like the State of Nature report, found that a third of Wales’ priority species declined during the past decade.

Tackling this problem means we need to change the way our economy works.

WWF Cymru is organising an event to discuss how Wales can respond to this challenge, and build an economy that uses our planet’s resources sustainably and efficiently.

Kindly sponsored by Huw Irranca-Davies AM, the event will take place in The Pierhead, Cardiff Bay, between 12.00 and 1.15pm on Tuesday 13 December 2016.

To find out more and send an RSVP, visit their website.

LPR-event-1-EN[:cy]Daeth Adroddiad Planed Fyw diweddar WWF i’r casgliad fod dynolryw yn gosod pwysau aruthrol ar fywyd gwyllt ac ar yr amgylchedd naturiol. Os na gwnawn ni rywbeth am hynny nawr, gallem weld gostyngiad o 67% mewn rhywogaethau fertebraidd erbyn 2020.

Mae hynny’n gymaint o broblem yma yng Nghymru ag unrhyw le arall. Daeth adroddiadau eraill, fel yrAdroddiad ar Sefyllfa Byd Natur, i’r casgliad fod traean o rywogaethau Cymru sy’n flaenoriaeth wedi gostwng yn ystod y degawd diwethaf.

Mae mynd i’r afael â’r broblem hon yn golygu bod angen newid y ffordd mae’n heconomi’n gweithio.

Mae WWF Cymru’n trefnu digwyddiad i drafod sut all Cymru ymateb i’r her hon, ac adeiladu economi sy’n defnyddio adnoddau naturiol ein planed yn gynaliadwy ac yn effeithlon.

Trwy nawdd caredig Huw Irranca-Davies, cynhelir y digwyddiad yn Y Pierhead, Bae Caerdydd, rhwng 12.00 ac 1.15yp ddydd Mawrth 13 Rhagfyr 2016.

I gael rhagor o wybodaeth ac i anfon RSVP, ewch i’w gwefan.


Low carbon lessons from nature


We can learn so much from nature. To find out what we can learn to help create a low carbon future we have decided to explore current research in the first of our two day event. Experts will present low carbon solutions from nature for urban regeneration and well-being, watershed management and ecosystem restoration, marine renewables, chemistry, natural capital and blue-green urban infrastructure.

The second day will examine the ‘internet of energy’, a greener, more reliable, and more efficient power supply. Research has already revealed opportunities for industry and the public sector to embrace new technologies to bring about a low carbon sustainable society.

We want more people to understand and contribute to a low carbon Wales and so this event is free to attend, thanks to the sponsorship of the Sêr Cymru National Research Network for Low Carbon, Energy and Environment (NRN-LCEE).

6 & 7 July | Low Carbon Cymru Conference

Day 1: Nature-Based Solutions for a low carbon Wales
Speakers include:

  • Dr Nicola Beaumont, Plymouth Marine Laboratory
  • Professor Ian Bryden, University of the Highlands and Islands
  • Professor Čedo Maksimović, Imperial College London
  • Dr Luise Noring, Copenhagen Business School
  • Professor Peter Pearson, Imperial College London
  • Professor Carolyn Roberts, Gresham College
  • Dr Duncan Macquarrie, Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence, University of York

You can follow this link to find out more about the speakers.

Day 2: Smart Grid, Smart Living

Speakers include:

  • Mike Pedley, Head of Energy at Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water
  • Steven Edwards, Director of Regulation and Commercial at Wales and West Utilities
  • Professor Alan Guwy, Head of the Sustainable Environment Research Centre (SERC) at University of South Wales
  • Professor Iain Donnison, Leader of the Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at Aberystwyth University
  • Tim James, Energy Manager at Port of Milford Haven
  • Paul Jones from SPECIFIC
  • Ivo Spreeuwenberg, National Grid
  • Phil Bowen, Cardiff University
  • Jon Maddy, South Wales University
  • Jianzhong Wu, Cardiff University
  • Ian Masters, Swansea University

The conference is free to attend but pre-registration through Ticketsource for day 1 and day 2 is mandatory.

Please click here to register for Day 1
Please click here to register for Day 2


Emergence – Eginiad: Creative practice for a sustainable future

Having staged three major conferences together in 2010/11, Volcano and Cynnal Cymru have taken the initiative in two parallel directions. Volcano is leading an examination of how the concept of sustainable development informs and influences the creative process and artistic practice while Cynnal Cymru convened a partnership involving (the development body for theatres and arts centres in Wales), BRASS and Julie’s Bicycle to address sustainable development in the context of the built environment and theatre estate. The Creu Cymru project has gathered a data baseline of the environmental impacts of 42 venues around Wales. From this baseline, working with a pilot group, the project will provide tools and support to enable theatres and venues to improve their environmental performance and influence the behaviours of audiences, staff, suppliers and business partners.

The then proposed Welsh Government Sustainable Development Bill (now the Well-being of Future Generations Act) provided a context for this project. This legislation will place a statutory duty upon public bodies in Wales to adopt the concept of sustainable development as the central organising principle upon which all organisational decisions are made and to provide evidence on how this is implemented in practice.

Many Creu Cymru members are part of a local authority structure and most are in receipt of Arts Council funding. In both these respects they can assume that the Bill will have an impact upon them. The project helped to provide Creu Cymru members with the means and data to demonstrate compliance in advance of The Bill’s implementation.

View and download: Creative practice for a sustainable future Compiled and curated by Fern Smith and Rhodri Thomas

Emergence is an initiative by Cynnal Cymru-Sustain Wales developed and presented in partnership with Volcano Theatre with the support of The Arts Council of Wales and British Council.

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