Notes and actions from the April organising meeting

Notes from Scot.E3 Edinburgh organising meeting180419

  • Attending PS, ZT, CM, PC, EC, BP – apologies from KW, WB, SB, MD
  • Agreed to rewrite the preamble to the article that responds to criticisms of Just Transition in the light of the new STUC statement on climate action and publish it on the blog.
  • The leaflet we distributed on the first day of the STUC in Dundee was well received.Thanks to SCND for hosting the fringe meeting on jobs, divestment and sustainability that we spoke at – about 30 people attended.  We also joined a discussion organised by the STUC with young people from recent climate action.
  • Throughout the meetingideas for further briefings/resources/blog posts came up in discussion. These included:
  • The case for taking INEOS into public ownership
  • Sustainable housing
  • Divestment, nuclear decommissioning and a sustainable future
  • Why nuclear shouldn’t be part of a just transition
  • A critical look at energy from waste schemes

If you are interested in contributing to any of these please let us know.

  • There will be a climate bloc on Edinburgh May Day (4thMay) – we are working with Friends of the Earth Scotland to build this. PC will check whether we can organise a meeting for people on it to attend afterwards possibly at the May Day Bookfair at the Leith Community Centre, Sunday 5th
  • We still need to find a couple of people who can take the Scot.E3 banner through to the Glasgow May Day march (5thMay). The banner will be on the Edinburgh march on the 4th, can anyone take the banner through to Glasgow for this given that we also have to cover the Leith event.
  • We’ve been invited to speak at the Edinburgh Green Party meeting, 7.30pm at the Augustine Church on 25thApril – PC to speak.
  • Edinburgh City Council Climate emergency meeting 25thApril, 6pm at the City Chambers Scot.E3 have been asked to host a table – WB taking responsibility for this but others welcome – you’ll need to register at this Eventbrite link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/climate-emergency-action-needed-6pm-thur-25-apr-edinburgh-city-chambers-tickets-59567249246
  • Nuclear Free Local Authorities Scotland seminar on climate change, just transition and divestment issues, Dundee City Chambers, 10th May – EC going to this
  • State Energy Company

Urban change in a time of climate crisis

Housing is a central issue in the transition to a long term sustainable economy.  As a group Scot.E3 has produced resources on Fuel Poverty and we are currently working on more resources that look at how passive houses and a mass campaign of home insulation could contribute to a just transition while at the same time as improving the quality off people’s lives.  We’re pleased to publish a post by Save Leith Walk activist Ian Hood on the work that the campaign has done to think about the future of hosing in their area.

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Early in 2018, it became clear that developers wanted to demolish a long parade of shops in Leith Walk and replace it with a student accommodation.  A popular local campaign emerged to challenge this and in January 2019 Edinburgh Council agreed that the building should not be demolished and that the proposed development was unacceptable.  Planning Permission was refused.

But the campaign has always been about more than just opposing the wishes of developers.  To be successful in the long run we need to promote an alternative vision, one that reflects the needs of the local community and can take it forward.

Over the last year campaign members have spoken to thousands of local workers and residents about what is important to them. We have directly canvassed the opinions of hundreds of local people about their preferences for new development in the Leith Walk area.   This was followed up by a local community planning workshop that looked at the needs and wishes of people who lived in the area.

And at the heart of the emerging view was the sense that any new development had to be both sustainable and promote strong environmental values.

We did not create a single business plan or an architectural map for developers.  We identified the three different elements that can contribute to the vision.  Sketch maps that illustrate each of these were drawn up.   The need for more social housing dominated in all of the visions and also important were business space, community support and green space.

Running through the core of the vision is the idea that ecological and environmental issues are not add ons at the end of a planning process but integral to any design.

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Community Housing (see image above) faces up to the long term problem of housing provision in Leith and provides a range of solutions to housing need.  Building diverse housing that allows people to live and play together strengthens our communities in fundamental ways.

  • Opening up to the Leith Walk community by creating new access through the centre of the building.
  • A covered walkway could be created at the rear of the building bringing the housing units into connection with the sandstone building.
  • Up to Eleven housing blocks in different sizes and shapes could be built in the land behind offering a range of housing opportunities including
    • Open Market homes,
    • intergenerational housing,
    • flexible and adaptable homes,
    • co-housing models
  • Designed to the Passive Housing standards making environmentally friendly homes.
  • Living walls could blend the development into the surrounding space
  • There could be a shared guest house and other community space reducing the need for spare rooms and encouraging sharing.
  • Affordable student housing owned by the community.

Community Cohesion is about strengthening community links and helping people to focus on the challenges that affect them and develop new skills to tackle them.   It can create a new vision of community where people from different racial, class, gender, age and religious backgrounds are partners in their own futures.

  • A refreshed building, made Green Energy resilient.
  • New opportunities to existing businesses and new small, low cost starter units.
  • Blocks of colony style eco homes consisting of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom flats to allow for real flexibility over time.Social housing block providing accessible housing for older people and disabled people.
  • A Community Event Centre that could offer classes and social opportunities.
  • Opportunities for beehives, public artworks, fruit trees, bench seating. And an open air market.

Community Enterprise addresses the challenge of how to create employment opportunities in Leith that meet the demands of the global market.  It recognises that businesses are stronger when cooperation and mutual support are part of a shared value basis.  Working together to create jobs, new business and entrepreneurial opportunities can transform our community.

  • The building would be refreshed, upgrading it with an accessible green roof and additional business pods.
  • The existing shops and business would be revitalised to offer opportunities to existing businesses as well as offering small, low cost starter units.
  • Design attention to wellbeing and support for locals. A community bakery could be integral part of the building to allow people to come together, to bake bread together and to share bread together.
  • A social enterprise and community space to train and share business skills including incubator units for creative, media, IT and other businesses.
  • A block of open market starter, eco homes with space for new businesses
  • Additional green space with open meadows planted with wildflowers, recreational natural green space, community orchard, accessible allotments, beehives and vegetable gardens.

Our vision seeks to build on the strength of the existing community and to create new ways of bringing people together.  They can enhance the area, preserve its diversity and inclusivity, and contribute towards Leith having a bright future in the 21stcentury.

The Stead’s Place site is too small to contain all of these solutions but we will work with other sites and local stakeholders over the next few months to develop our plans.

Urban development today in the light of a real Climate Crisis needs to work with people’s needs and not be imposed by profit seekers.   Single sites cannot be allowed to simply focus on one issue, retail, student accommodation, tourism but must integrate different part of the community’s need into a coherent vision.

We have started that work and welcome the support of others in continuing to develop this vision.

Ian Hood

Save Leith Walk

For More Information and contact us

Email:  Info@saveleithwalk.org

Web:www.saveleithwalk.org

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American Climate Rebels

A post from REEL News

In 2018, Reel News went on a 14 week tour of North America to look at grassroots struggles around climate change, particularly struggles around a “just transition” from fossil fuels to renewable energy, where workers and communities control the process so that they benefit from the transition, and around “just recovery” – recovery from extreme weather events which do not exascerbate current inequalities.

What we found were inspiring and visionary struggles all over the continent, led by working class communities of colour, with people organising just transitions and just recoveries themselves. Now, we’ll be presenting what we found in the form of a weekly online 11 episode series starting on Sunday April 14th – 7pm UK time, 3pm New York City time, Midday California time.

Episode 1 is about Alberta, Canada, where the long oil sands boom  has come to an end. Falling oil prices are leading to thousands of job losses – which has started a serious conversation in the labour movement about transitioning away from oil to renewables. The need is becoming more urgent as the big oil sands companies look to maximise profits and slash even more jobs through automation. This film looks at a number of initiatives, the history of oppression of First Nations people to get the resources in the first place, and a rare chance to hear from oil sands workers themselves, including women and First Nations workers.

With the current growing uprising over climate change giving renewed hope, we’re hoping that this will not only inspire you further – but will also help a little in putting the idea of just transition at the forefront of the movement.

‘Unlocking the job potential of zero carbon’

‘Unlocking the job potential of zero carbon’ from the Green European Foundation is a valuable addition to the evidence base that a socially just transition to a zero carbon economy is practical and possible.   The authors model the impact on jobs, short-term (during the transition) and long term, of moving to zero carbon by 2030. The estimates they provide are conservative – they don’t consider the additional employment that would be created by the additional economic activity – they don’t consider jobs in the supply chain and they don’t include activity for which rigorous data is unavailable.

The new report’s approach is not identical to the work done by the Campaign Against Climate Change published in the Million Climate Jobs Pamphlet. However, their forecasts for the whole of the UK are very similar.   They expect 980,000 additional jobs will be required during the transition reducing to 710,000 after zero carbon is reached. New jobs are calculated on a regional basis with a full breakdown available in the report’s appendix. The number of new jobs during the transition is estimates as 60,946 falling to 26,905 in the long-term.

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WWF report

A new report on ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change, written by vivideconomics and commissioned by WWF Scotland was published on January 23rd.   ‘A Climate of Possibility: Harnessing Scotland’s natural resources to end our contribution to climate change’ argues that:

Scotland is a country laden with natural advantages for net zero. From our abundant renewable energy resource, to our large land area suitable for carbon sinks such as forests and restored peatlands, to our history of innovation and skilled workforce, this report shows we can hit net zero before other UK nations and be among the global leaders on this issue. 

There’s much to be commended in the introduction to the report. The authors are absolutely right that we have multiple options. However, as the report develops, one option, Greenhouse Gas Reduction through Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), is given prominence. In my view this is unhelpful. CCS is an unproven technology that would be capital intensive (making the involvement of corporations inevitable) and take longer than we’ve got. A specialist paper on CCS notes that

Although technologies regarding the capture and storage of CO2 exist, the overall cost of using current CCS procedures is still high and must be substantially reduced before it can be widely deployed. There are multiple hurdles to CCS deployment that need to be addressed in the coming years, including the absence of a clear business case for investment in CCS, and the absence of robust economic incentives to support the additional high capital and operating costs associated with CCS.

The fundamental point is (see ScotE3 Briefing 3: Time for action ) that the world desperately needs sources of energy which are clean, secure and affordable, and which can be readily put under democratic control. Fossil fuels have none of those characteristics. To continue to extract, burn and rely on them, and depend on greenhouse gas removal to address climate change, would mean continuing with insecurity of supply, oil imperialism and wars (Venezuela and Iran examples currently in the news), and high energy prices in order to meet the profit margin requirements of the big corporations who control their extraction and distribution. A focus on CCS plays into the hands of the corporations.

Mike Downham

NB We’d welcome further contributions on this topic.

image from commons.wikimedia.org 

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Briefing #8: Just Transition

The latest Scot.E3 briefing looks at what we mean by Just Transition and how a focus on climate jobs, workers rights and social justice can be core the the transition to a zero carbon economy.  Please download, use in your workplace and community group.  These briefings are produced under an open license so do feel free to adapt – although we’d appreciate if you include attribution to the existing material and if you can send a copy for further sharing/development.

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The case for closing Hunterston

In June 2018 we published a briefing on the perilous state of the nuclear reactors at Hunterston and Torness.   The reactors at Hunterston have been offline since then while inspection of the graphite cylinders in the reactor core takes place. With around 28% of the core inspected the Ferret has now revealed that 370 major cracks have been found in the graphite core of reactor three and 200 cracks in the core of reactor four. To put this in context there are 3000 graphite blocks in each reactor.

EDF Energy who run the reactors intend to apply for permission to reopen production in March or April this year. In the view of environmental radiologist Ian Fairlie, who spoke at the Scottish Parliament and at meetings in Edinburgh and Glasgow this week such a move is fraught with risk. The level of damage to the reactor cores is such that they should be permanently shut down.

At the Edinburgh talk Ian noted that Hunterston is now probably the oldest operating nuclear reactor in the world. It first generated electricity in 1976 and was designed to run for 30 years. Currently it’s scheduled for closure in 2023. EDF have previously applied for five-year extensions and there is every likelihood they plan to do so again.

The cylindrical graphite blocks are critical to the stability and safety of the reactors. The cracks form in pairs, running the full length of the cylinders and splitting them apart. Under normal conditions the others around them hold the cracked blocks in place. However, a sudden outage, steam surge or earth tremor could result in a serious accident and a large release of radioactive gas. If other safety systems were to fail – and they are untested – there is a possibility of a catastrophic accident on the scale of Chernobyl.   The direction of the prevailing wind would take the radioactive plume across Glasgow, Edinburgh and most of the central belt.

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EDF are under political and economic pressure to keep the reactors operating. The political pressure comes from Westminster and a strong emphasis on nuclear. The economic pressure is arguably more acute. EDF are in a financial crisis, €37 billion in debt and needing more than €200 billion to bankroll commitments in construction, refurbishment and decommissioning. Hunterston and Torness, when operational, are a significant source of income to the firm.

The continued operation of these aging power stations is a real threat to the lives and well being of the Scottish population. Permanent closure and a focus on renewables is the safe and sustainable alternative.

Fuel Poverty Briefing

The latest briefing looks at Fuel Poverty in Scotland, the Scottish Government’s Draft Fuel Poverty Bill and the importance of Climate Jobs.  Please share and download to print paper copies for distribution.

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Image shows page 1 of the briefing

Climate jobs and a mass movement

It’s great that the last few days have seen an upsurge in protest against inaction on climate change.  In our view climate jobs are vital to a transition to a sustainable economy.  ‘Climate Jobs and a mass movement’ is intended as a contribution to the debate and can be downloaded to use as a flyer.

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