News

July/ August 2017 News

 

Eugenie Sage at the Building Community Resilience Workshop in May 2017Most major social changes come from the bottom up. When enough people get in behind an idea governments follow. We’ve recently taken part in the launch of “Our Climate Declaration”, a citizen led initiative aiming to create local climate change plans. It was inspiring to recognize many good initiatives underway all around the country. In our patch we had a very productive ‘Building Community Resilience’ meeting and workshop at the end of May that helped to identify common community themes and ambitions (see the report by Anna). Our great thanks to Eugenie Sage MP who shared her experience of the emergency response in Christchurch, and to Waitati School. We’re planning further workshops later in the year and developing new partnerships to advance actions.

The Advisory Board for the Climate Safe House project comes together in July to go over the research results and set new priorities. We’ve received 61 responses to our survey, completed 12 interviews and conducted 4 Cosy Homes Assessments in homes in the proposed flood hazard zones. We aim to do more Cosy Homes Assessments and more interviews before we wrap up the research. We’ve worked closely with our partner the Otago Polytechnic and the 3rd year Design Students have completed a further set of designs that we’ll display in a second exhibition later in the year. Now we aim to get the detailed design underway. All this information means we’re able to contribute to a national discussion coordinated by the Motu Research Institute on how climate change may impact on coastal and flood prone settlements. If you want to learn a bit about the Climate Safe House project go to the website, where there’s a short movie and lots of information: www.climatesafehouse.nz or look on YouTube for “In the flood zone”.

‘When the boat’s sinking everyone needs to bail’. That was the metaphor used by a lawyer in a Wellington court recently. He was representing law student Sarah Thompson who is taking the Government to court claiming they’re not doing enough to halt climate change by adopting a ‘fast followers’ policy. There’s no doubt the task is huge:  address climate change, eliminate fuel poverty, increase food security, establish affordable green energy. As a nation we’ve signed up for these. They’re the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by 193 countries in 2015. They are daunting, but also inspiring, and will require all of us all to contribute to achieving them and create a future in which we can all thrive.

The Trust is inspired by the idea that collectively we are more than the sum of our parts and together we can make a real difference. That idea drives all that we do.

This winter we’ve experienced a rise in requests for Cosy Homes Assessments and more calls to our Cosy Energy Advice line (Tel: 929 1323). Residents are taking a greater interest in retrofitting insulation - we provide quality Mammoth insulation at a discounted price. We provide these services because not only can we reduce household emissions through investing in warm and cosy homes, but we can also live better when we invest in our health and wellbeing. Every small bit we do counts and we’re grateful for the financial contribution provided by the Dunedin City Council which helps us deliver Cosy Energy services.

We’re working on a Blueskin Smart Grid Marketplace. It would allow those generating their own power through solar or wind to sell their excess power to neighbours. Those selling their excess power would get a better rate per unit than currently offered by power companies through their buy back ‘feed in’ tariff- those buying a cheaper rate than they normally pay. Such a market place, supplemented we hope by our proposed wind turbine would help to ensure that all Blueskin settlements could access affordable, reliable, sustainable and green energy. Together these are things we can do as a community to contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Our Climate Safe House project is an action to combat climate change and the way it is likely to impact on people most at risk in our community. The Advisory Board for the Climate Safe House project met in mid July and developed a list of priority actions. We’ve still got to raise a lot of money but things are looking promising. This project aligns with UN Sustainable Development Goals 1 (No Poverty), 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing), 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 10 (Reduced Inequalities), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and 13 (Climate Action).

It is disappointing that the Government is wrapping up the national ‘Warm Up New Zealand’ subsidised insulation scheme in 2018, as it is estimated there are still more than 800, 000 homes in need of insulation retrofits nationwide. In the mean-time grants of 50% towards the cost of having insulation professionally installed are available for low-income home owners as well as landlords with low-income tenants. Call us for details.

The Trust’s Annual General Meeting is scheduled for Saturday the 16th of September, in the Blueskin Library meeting room. You are all welcome, not only for the formal presentation of our Annual Report, but also to hear from our invited speaker and to discuss future projects. Please put this date in your diary - it would also be nice to know if you intend to come so we know how many scones to bake.

We are not far away if you are looking for us. Our office is in the old dental clinic at Waitati School. Look us up on Facebook as Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust, on Twitter as @BlueskinPower and you can call the office on 03 4822048 directly to find out more about any of our work. For free Cosy Energy Advice, local call 929 1323. You can also contact us by email at: office@brct.org.nz.

By Scott Willis