CAT Conference 2019October 11, 2019
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We had an exciting time at the CAT Conference this year, with lots of inspiring conversations, great speakers, a memorable ceilidh and highly engaged participants.
The theme this year was ‘Inspiring Action’, and the need for action has never been greater. Following the IPCC 1.5C special report last year, and the mass of inspiring actions that are occurring across the world, it’s clear that now more than ever we need to focus on effective solutions to climate change, and collectively act to rapidly reduce our carbon emissions now.
Fear is paralysing – hope is energising
This year’s CAT Conference was the largest we’ve ever had, and neither the storms nor floods that beset us were enough to keep people away, nor dampen their spirits.
And what an inspiring time to be involved in discussions around climate change solutions. The last year has seen a wave of climate emergency declarations, the eruption of two huge protest movements (School Strikes and Extinction Rebellion) and the adoption of 2050 net zero carbon emissions as a goal by the government. While the week leading up to the conference saw the Labour Party adopt a goal of net zero emissions by 2030.
Rising to the Climate Emergency
After a brief introductory talk and a chance to mix and mingle on Friday evening, Saturday started with a talk from Paul Allen, where he gave a sneak peak of our new Zero Carbon Britain report, due out later this year.
The report uses hourly modelling using 10 years’ worth of weather data to simulate renewable energy supply, along with changes to land use, diet, transport and housing to model a scenario that shows a UK that has risen to the challenge and reduced our greenhouse gas emissions to zero.
Paul Allen’s message was clear: we can’t wait for a technological magic bullet. We have the technology now to rapidly reduce our emissions, there are many other benefits from acting, including improved health and housing – and we must act now!
The new report will be released later this year. Make sure to sign up to our email (if you haven’t already) to ensure that you’re notified when the report is released and to stay up to date with all the latest from CAT.
Inspiring action and creating change
This year we had a great range of speakers share their time and expertise on a broad range of subjects, looking at how we can meet the challenges brought about by climate change and what sort of actions we can take.
Talks and workshops ranged from the technical, such as Trystan Lea showcasing the modelling behind our Zero Carbon Britain project, to the political, with Andy Rowland and Machynlleth town councillor Ann MacGarry exploring the role of councils. Looking at lessons from psychology, Rosemary Randall explored how we can find our voice and talk more effectively about climate change, whilst other sessions explored activism, migration, buildings and much, much more.
For more on this year’s workshops see the list below, and keep an eye on our website as we hope to get blogs and follow up pieces from many of the experts involved.
Dancing the night away
Saturday evening provided a great opportunity to socialise, make connections, take a well deserved break and dance our stresses away in a ceilidh, with live music and dancing instruction provided by local group Backroom Band, with special guest Paul Allen on bodhrán and whistle.
What’s next for CAT?
On Sunday Paul Allen and Peter Tyldesley (CAT’s new CEO) ran a session allowing us to get feedback on the Zero Carbon Britain Hub and Innovation Lab that we’ll be launching later this year, which we will use to help provide support to communities, councils and governments on creating Zero Carbon Action Plans and in developing innovative solutions.
The session was very interactive and we’re looking forward to thoroughly reviewing all the helpful feedback and feeding this into the next stage of development.
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Workshops and Talks
Thanks to all the speakers and participants that made all our workshops a great success. Below is a list of the main workshops. In addition we also had a wide range of delegate-run workshops and talks during our world café session.
What can councils do and how can we make change happen?
Andy Rowland of Machynlleth-based environmental organisation Ecodyfi, and local town councillor Ann MacGarry led a lively and insightful workshop exploring the role of councils and how we can help support them to create council and community action plans.
The wealth of experience in the room was incredible, and it turned out that many of the participants were councillors that had come from all over the UK.
Finding your voice about climate change
Rosemary Randall led a great workshop, followed the next day by a lecture, exploring how we can talk more effectively about climate change, have better conversations, and use the power of personal stories to have conversations that inspire us to take action rather than paralysing us with fear.
Missed out? Free resources made by Rosemary Randall and Andy Brown are available for download. Visit www.carbonconversations.co.uk/p/materials.html
Climate Strikes and looking forward to COP26
Fresh from working alongside and assisting young activists and organisers of the Climate Strikes, following a week when an estimated 7.1 million people marched world wide, Kim Bryan of 350.org talked on how we can keep up pressure and change ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.
Later that day, during our World Café session, many of us got to hear from local youth activists Bea and Lex who discussed what they’ve been doing locally and how we can help empower young people to take action on climate change and help make their voices heard.
Turning plants into products!
The way we consume resources must change. We’ve got to create a society and economy that consumes less. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t still need ‘stuff’.
Dr Judith Thornton from Beacon Wales and Ibers (Aberystwyth University) looked how we can decarbonise stuff, how biorefining could contribute to a circular economy, and at the amazing power of microbes, including how we can use bugs to make bioplastics from plants.
The role of education
Amanda Smith, CAT’s Engagement Manager, brought her decades of experience working as a head teacher and her passion for environmental education to a session on how we can use educational activities that explore climate change, solutions and the environment with children and young people, looking at how this can help us to hear their voice and empower the next generation.
The participants were very engaged, bringing their own extensive experience and perspectives on environmental education to the discussions. We look forward to hearing back about what people have been working on!
What are the limitations within the green movement and how can we create a truly inclusive movement?
Laurence Tidy, local activist and CAT volunteer, led an interactive session exploring how issues around class, racism and other forms of discrimination have held back the green movement, and looking at a range of solutions.
There were no easy answers, but lots of passionate discussion and sharing of personal experiences and ideas on how we can overcome the barriers to creating the changes we need.
A just transition
Katy Fowler, an Extinction Rebellion Citizens Assembly Ambassador for Wales, gave a talk arguing that we need to involve people from “all walks of life in taking a wise and measured lead in the radical changes needed in responding to the climate and ecological emergency.”
Migration as climate change adaptation
Migration is a complex topic, affected by politics, economics, conflicts and natural disasters. Alex Randall from Climate and Migration Coalition explored how climate change is already affecting some of the drivers of migration and the potential impacts moving forward.
Zero Carbon Britain modelling
Bringing together ten years’ worth of data on energy consumption and weather patterns, Trystan Lea explained the modelling behind our latest Zero Carbon Britain report (due out later this year).
Explaining climate change science to local authorities
Local weather enthusiast and geologist John Mason discussed what he has learned from feeding into Machynlleth Town Council on climate change.
Mixed farming, agri-policy and climate change
Radical changes to how we farm are needed if we are to rapidly reduce our climate emissions. Chris Higgins described the agroecological approach with special reference to climate change and the current proposed changes to agricultural policy in Wales.
Greater South East Energy Hub and Climate Emergency Action Plans
John Taylor discussed his work on Energy Hubs in the context of the Climate Emergency and discussed what role they can play.