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‘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.

Why has Carbon Literacy proved to be such a success?

Carbon Literacy is a learning methodology that allows people to engage with the huge, complex and frightening reality of climate change and break the challenge down into manageable personal and organisational responses. Formulated in Manchester, the concept has now spread to over ten countries.

Cynnal Cymru is the official partner of the Carbon Literacy Project in Wales. Still managed in Manchester by Cooler Projects and overseen by the Carbon Literacy Trust, the concept is defined as;

“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.”

On the 17th March Cardiff Council announced that it had become the first Welsh local authority to achieve Carbon Literate Organisation status in Wales, and in fact the first council in the whole of the UK. They are also the first organisation from any sector in Wales to meet the standard at a bronze level. Carbon Literate Organisation status goes from bronze to platinum.

Our Carbon Literacy trainer, Rhodri Thomas, shares more about the success of Carbon Literacy as well as his goal to reach six platinum level organisations in Wales and many many more at bronze to gold level over the next four years.

Rhodri was also the first resident Welsh certified Carbon Literacy trainer in Wales and has trained over 400 people and has seen the concept take hold in Wales.

Over to Rhodri…

Why has Carbon Literacy proved to be such a success?

Before answering that question, first let’s review what has been achieved:

  • After initially training the Sustainable Development forum of Museum Wales, we supported initial efforts by the whole museum sector to develop bespoke Carbon Literacy training.
  • We co-founded a consortium of twenty seven housing associations and oversaw the training of around 140 staff including a Train The Trainer programme as well as the development of a dedicated Carbon Literacy course for the social housing sector. Our partners in the consortium are launching a cascade of peer to peer training this spring using their own course.
  • We have just completed a project funded by National Resources Wales to train around 200 leaders and influencers from the organisations that make up the five Gwent Public Service Boards. On this we worked with Manchester Metropolitan University and Great Places Housing group.
  • We recently trained the whole cabinet and executive management team of Newport City Council.
  • We developed an introduction to climate change e-learning course for Denbighshire County Council that will accompany their Carbon Literacy training.
  • We designed a Carbon Literacy for Engineers course in collaboration with the Flexis programme.
  • We have trained Cardiff Council colleagues and cabinet members allowing them to apply for the Bronze Carbon Literacy Organisation accreditation.

So why the interest?

Some time ago, I was challenged with, “why should working class people in the valleys be burdened with this knowledge – they are not the ones causing all the problems.”

As I stumbled for a reply, someone else said, “Why shouldn’t they understand climate change and their part in it?”

That for me sums it up. Climate change – the effects and impacts of global warming – will spare no one. And yes, everyone is responsible although of course some people make a greater contribution to greenhouse gas levels than others. But through Carbon Literacy, this big scary problem becomes the stuff of everyday life.

The injustices of it are exposed but so are the solutions and the co-benefits of taking action, and above all, the awareness of personal agency is developed – everyone can do something to reduce emissions and everyone can do something to protect themselves, their families and their communities from the predicted and current impacts of this problem.

Managers, elected leaders, community workers, volunteers, specialists, skilled and unskilled workers and people looking for work have all been helped by the Carbon Literacy method to unpack the problem and stare the monster in the face.

We now have seven local authorities in Wales who have discovered the benefit of Carbon Literacy within the context of their declaration of a climate emergency and their formulation of complex plans to reduce their own and their county’s emissions.

Decarbonisation and climate change adaptation are two big and complicated challenges. They simply cannot be left for a small group of specialists to solve. When we all work together as a team, sharing our knowledge and insights, taking personal as well as collective responsibility, then we can hope to reach more effective solutions faster.

This is what we hope to see now from Cardiff, Newport, Torfaen, Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent, Caerffili and Denbighshire – all the local authorities that have so far embraced Carbon Literacy – the use of their Carbon Literacy to develop team work, horizontal and vertical collaboration, everyone speaking the same language and striving towards the same goals.

Climate change caused by global heating will define every aspect of life in the twenty first century. Everyone should understand it and be supported to develop a response. It’s not certain that our social and economic systems will adapt, decarbonise and survive what is already starting to happen but we give ourselves a greater chance if we face the problem and deconstruct it. As far as climate change is concerned, ignorance will be a very short lived and morally questionable bliss.

To stay informed about Carbon Literacy training and other training opportunities, sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Greenstream Flooring CIC – 2020 Social Impact Report

During 2020 Greenstream diverted over 51,100m2 of otherwise wasted carpet for the benefit of the community and was also instrumental in providing support to the “Floored Report,” which highlighted the important impact that carpet has on Welsh housing standards.

The report also features the work Greenstream do with eight housing associations as part of its Affordable Flooring project and how it supports people in the local community with low-cost flooring.

With 11 employees in the business and a mission to create opportunities through sustainable employment, the report goes on to include the important work the company does for local people through providing jobs and training through its advocacy work.

Ellen Petts, founder and managing director, Greenstream Flooring CIC, said:

“Reusing and repurposing carpet tiles that are no longer required is the bedrock of how we can continue the success of our business. We all need to play our part in understanding what the circular economy can bring to the future of our planet. Understanding the consequences for our children and grandchildren, if we do not change our ways of disposing of not just carpet tiles, but everything we no longer require, is of vital importance.

“We are looking forward to a year where we can work even more closely in partnership with organisations who share our vision to eliminate waste and to keep products in use for longer.”

Some key facts from the report:

♻️  Diverted over 51,100m2 of otherwise wasted carpet from landfill

♻️  Donated 5,700m2 of material to those in need

♻️  Supported 129 low-income tenants through our Affordable Housing programme

♻️  Held 17 free giveaway days

♻️  Employed 11 people.

To download the report, click HERE

For information on Greenstream Flooring CIC please visit www.findcarpettiles.co.uk

Cash boost to increase tree cover in Cardiff

Cardiff Council will benefit from the charity’s Emergency Tree Fund, set up to encourage local authorities to make trees a central part of their policies, and boost tree cover to tackle climate change.

After receiving a grant of £228,862, Cardiff Council is looking to plant more than 800 hectares of tree cover over the next decade.

Natalie Buttriss, Director of Coed Cadw said:

“Back in October 2020, Cardiff Council unveiled its blueprint to become a carbon-neutral city by 2030, and its ambition to increase urban tree cover from 18.9 to 25%; an ambition which exceeds our own ask for all urban areas to have at least 20% tree cover.

The Emergency Tree Fund aims to help local authorities turn such ambitions into reality.

Whilst tree-planting alone is not a ‘silver bullet’ for tackling climate change, we are pleased to be supporting Cardiff Council in taking action to identify land for trees and to increase canopy cover across the city.”

Among the aims of the Emergency Tree Fund are to boost green spaces for health, plant trees to soak up harmful carbon and combat pollution and create detailed strategies to meet carbon zero targets.

In total, up to £2.9 million will be going to councils across the UK. 

It is a key part of The Woodland Trust’s recently announced ambitious aim to plant 50 million trees by 2025.

Cllr Peter Bradbury, Cardiff Council Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, said:

“Securing this funding from The Woodland Trust gives our plans for a greener Cardiff a real boost – it’s going to make a real difference as we continue working towards our vision for a carbon neutral, One Planet Cardiff.”

“Alongside action on other areas such as transport, energy and food, planting more trees is an important part of our strategic response to the climate crisis. This funding will help us do exactly that, but it’s more than just a numbers game, it’s also about planting the right trees in the right places. That’s why, as well as significantly increasing the number of trees we plant, we’ll also be using some of this funding to help establish a tree nursery to secure a stock of locally grown, native trees we can plant in the future.”

John Tucker, the Woodland Trust’s Director of Woodland Outreach at the Trust said:

“This funding to UK councils has the power to inspire a new generation in tree planting and galvanise the need to treasure trees in their neighbourhoods. The country’s fight against COVID-19 has already shown how communities can come together in a time of crisis.

As the pandemic hopefully abates, getting outside and planting trees will be a way for this spirit to be harnessed once again in a different but a very important way – to tackle climate change.”

To achieve its 50 million tree aim, The Woodland Trust is aiming to create new woods as well as work with landowners, local and national government, businesses and the public. 

More on the Woodland Trust’s 50m Tree Plan available here.

Cardiff the first Welsh local authority to achieve Carbon Literate Organisation status

As part of the accreditation process for the bronze level award a Carbon Literacy training programme has to be created and registered with the Carbon Literacy Project, ready for delivery to staff, and at least one senior member of the organisation at senior leadership level has to have successfully undertaken and passed this training.

Carbon Literacy is defined as ‘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.

Following Carbon Literacy Project approved training designed and delivered by sustainable development charity Cynnal Cymru, three Cardiff Council Cabinet members at the forefront of Cardiff’s One Planet Cardiff strategy for a carbon neutral city: Cllr Caro Wild (Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport), Cabinet Member for Clean Streets, Recycling and Environment, Cllr Michael Michael, and Cllr Chris Weaver (Cabinet Member for Finance, Modernisation and Performance), and staff from services across the organisation, have all been certified as Carbon Literate.

Cabinet Member for Clean Streets, Recycling and Environment, Cllr Michael Michael, said:

“Training Council staff and becoming a Carbon Literate Organisation is one way we can start to change the way we act, and think about our carbon emissions, not just as an organisation but also as individual residents with a contribution to make as we strive to become a carbon neutral, One Planet city.”

“Statistics show that if everyone in the world consumed natural resources, and generated carbon dioxide at the rate we do in Cardiff, then we would need the resources of three planets to enable us to carry on as we do.

“Something has to give, and I would urge residents, businesses and organisations to join us in making the changes we all need to make if we are to safeguard the future of Cardiff, and the planet.”

Rhodri Thomas, Principal Consultant at Cynical Cymru said:

“We are delighted that Cardiff Council has been recognised as a Carbon Literate Organisation at the bronze level. We provided training for a core group of colleagues and three cabinet members and are supporting the council to roll out Carbon Literacy training for the majority of Council staff. This level of commitment shows that the Council is serious about its declaration of a climate emergency and as more colleagues become Carbon Literate, the easier it will become for the Council to implement practical action and generate new ideas that will safeguard citizens and colleagues while creating a greener, cleaner, healthier and more prosperous city.”

Dave Coleman, Co-Founder and Managing Director of The Carbon Literacy Project said:

“Wales has been at the forefront of thinking on low carbon for some time, recognising the benefits of determined action on climate to education, jobs, and the Welsh economy, but also to the health, lifestyle, and prosperity of current and future generations of Welsh people. Therefore as the first Welsh local authority to be accredited as a Carbon Literate Organisation, its great to see Cardiff at the forefront of this thinking amongst Welsh local authorities, and we look forward to seeing the capital build further on such a positive start.”

For more information on Carbon Literacy and the training opportunities available visit the Carbon Literacy training section of our website.

Campaign to send 50,000 voices from Wales to COP26 launched

Climate Cymru, a coalition of citizens, civil society and business from across Wales are launching a campaign to gather 50,000 voices from the people of Wales to take to Glasgow in November.

Supporters from across the country will be empowered to add their voice to the Climate Cymru website, to demand strong and meaningful action from leaders on climate change. After adding their voice, supporters are then able to create their own personalised message, that will be taken to this year’s COP26 meeting in Glasgow, and to share among their own networks.

The climate and natural emergency threatens Wales’ communities, its ways of life, and the natural world. It’s happening now, and many are already seeing it in their day-to-day lives. Severe flooding, once a rare occurrence, is now an annual event in many of Wales’ communities. Climate change will only make this worse.

World leaders are meeting in Glasgow in November and Climate Cymru are calling on them to make strong and meaningful commitments to protect the Wales we love and to make a better future for all.

Climate Cymru is collecting voices from across Wales, voices that care deeply about Wales, its people, its natural environment, but also crucially the world beyond its borders. The campaign is calling for people from all walks of life to build a diverse movement across
political, cultural, religious, demographic and sectoral boundaries.

Using the voices of Wales, the campaign aims to put the onus back on governments and political leaders to show leadership and to make sure efforts of individuals and businesses are backed up by effective policies.

As hosts of COP26, it is especially important for the UK Government to show international leadership to push for strong and meaningful commitments from the international community to combat climate change.

Join the campaign. Add your voice at climate.cymru.

Poppy Stowell-Evans, member of Youth Climate Ambassadors for Wales and Climate Cymru
Ambassador said:

“As an organisation of youth climate activists, we recognise that climate change will impact
every aspect of our lives both internationally and in Wales. Therefore, it must be taken
seriously as a global issue.

We are recruiting an Administrative Officer

Salary: £20-24k pro rata, 15hrs, Flexible Working

Contract: 6 months fixed term (with possibility of extension)

Location: Wales / Office: Cardiff*

Application closing date: Sunday 21 March 2021 (midnight)

Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales is the leading sustainable development organisation in Wales.

We work with the public, private and voluntary sectors in Wales and beyond, identifying opportunities to promote an integrated approach to creating a fair and just society, a low carbon economy and a thriving natural environment. 

Our small team delivers wide-reaching work touching on many agendas including climate change and decarbonisation, sustainable travel, renewable energy, affordable housing, the Foundational Economy, in-work poverty, management of natural resources and much more.

We are the official partner of the Carbon Literacy Project in Wales and the real Living Wage Accreditation body for Wales.

We are looking for an experienced administrator to assist the team in administrative matters and to facilitate the Living Wage accreditation process in Wales. 

Apply

Download job description and personal specification

Download application form

Download equal opportunities form

Please send your covering letter, application form and the equal opportunities form to jobs@cynnalcymru.com

For more information about this role, please contact Lynsey Jackson, Programme Director on 029 2043 1713.

*Please note we are temporarily working from home but we do expect to return to an office on a regular basis.

Give your views to the Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly

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

To gather this information we are using a website called Polis – a real-time system for gathering, analysing and understanding what large groups of people think in their own words.

Anybody who lives or works in Blaenau Gwent can take part in the Polis survey and all responses are anonymous. The survey is opening on Monday 1st March 2021 and closing on Monday 22nd March 2021.

Find out more >>

Doing the little things in Cardiff on St. David’s Day

This St David’s Day, we are asking organisations across Cardiff to think about the little things they can do to ensure a fair day’s pay for their workers, whether it’s understanding how to become an accredited Living Wage employer, or reaching out to other organisations to encourage them to consider the real Living Wage, or helping us share the positive messages about the difference that paying the real Living Wage can make.

Cardiff Council is currently the only accredited real Living Wage local authority in Wales. The Council and partners are championing Cardiff as a Living Wage city which is having positive impact on the city and its employees. As of 1 February 2021, 45% of Wales’ total accredited employers were based in Cardiff and Cardiff employers had contributed to 69% of total uplifts in pay. Recent research by Cardiff University has shown that real Living Wage accreditation by 124 Cardiff employers has resulted in 7,735 workers receiving a pay rise which has added over £32m to the local economy in just over 8 years.

To hear more about the benefits of the real Living Wage from employers and employees in Cardiff please watch this video.

Leader of Cardiff Council, Cllr Huw Thomas, said:

“The seemingly small things really can make a big difference, and I know the significant impact paying the real Living Wage has had in the lives of our own staff. We’re pleased to be supporting organisations across the city to enable them to do the same for their own employees, and this St David’s Day I would encourage any Cardiff business interested in paying the real Living Wage to get in touch to find out more.”

Cardiff Council understand the wider benefits that the real Living Wage can bring to individuals and employers, as well as to the City; and they have made a commitment to reimbursing accreditation fees for SME employers based in Cardiff through their accreditation support scheme. For more information about the real Living Wage in Cardiff please visit the website.

Cardiff Council also encourages local employers to provide a Payroll Savings and Loans Scheme to their staff, enabling their employees to save directly from their salaries and if needed, access affordable credit from an ethical provider. More information can be found on this on the Cardiff & Vale Credit Union’s website.

Cynnal Cymru is the accrediting body for the real Living Wage in Wales and are here to help you through the accreditation process. Get in touch, join the movement, do the little things.

We wish you all a happy St David’s Day. Diolch yn fawr!

Doing the little things on St. David’s Day

This St David’s Day, we are asking organisations across Wales to think about the little things they can do to ensure no one in Wales has to work for less than the real Living Wage, whether it’s understanding how to become an accredited Living Wage employer, or reaching out to other organisations to encourage them to consider the real Living Wage, or helping us share the positive messages about the difference that paying the real Living Wage can make.

The real Living Wage is the only UK wage rate that is voluntarily paid by 7,000 UK businesses who believe their staff deserve a wage which meets every day needs – like the weekly shop, or a surprise trip to the dentist. In Wales, there are 278 accredited Living Wage employers, and over 11,428 employees in Wales have received a pay rise as a result of their employers accrediting. At UK level, the real Living Wage enjoys cross-party support.

Despite the huge challenges of the past year, we have seen continued momentum around the real Living Wage in Wales. In 2020, 55 employers across all sectors and industries in Wales took the step of accrediting as Living Wage employers, (compared to 56 in 2019). By taking individual action these employers saw a total of 4,300 workers uplifted to a real Living Wage.

According to the TUC, nearly a quarter of all workers in Wales are being paid below the real Living Wage rate. In some Welsh constituencies that number is 1 in 3.

In a recent Joseph Rowntree Foundation Briefing, it was found that 4 in 10 households in poverty in Wales contain a full-time worker, and over half have someone in work, showing that while work reduces the risk of poverty, it often isn’t enough to allow someone to escape from it.

Paying people a real Living Wage gives people a route out of poverty and means they have more money to spend in their local economies, and on the things that matter to them.

So, as we start to plan our way out of COVID, and ensure we are more resilient for the future, we encourage all employers to consider what little things they can do to make things better. What positive action can you take today? Becoming a real Living Wage employer is a small step that can bring about big changes for your workers, your organisation and your community.

Cynnal Cymru is the accrediting body for the real Living Wage in Wales and are here to help you through the accreditation process. Get in touch, join the movement, do the little things.

We wish you all a happy St David’s Day. Diolch yn fawr!

All figures based on 1 February 2021 data

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