Dec15/Jan1 2016 News
Dec/Jan News 2016
The office is back up and running again after the summer break. Meanwhile drought conditions have created the necessity for a fire ban in Otago and have led to calls to conserve water. And as we start the new year comes the long expected news that 2015 was the hottest year since records began 136 years ago. A monster El Niño is partly to blame. El Niño refers to large-scale ocean-atmosphere interaction that creates warming in sea surface temperatures across the Pacific. But there’s very little that is ‘natural’ about this El Niño – it seems that the El Niño has been made more extreme because of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. According to Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies “Even without El Niño, this would have been the warmest year on record. We’re looking at at long-term trend, and this is just a symptom”.
Here in Blueskin there is so much to do and a great deal already underway. What has become increasingly clear since the Paris Climate deal in December 2015 is that work to reduce emissions and adapt to our changing world is not something we can relegate to the occassional evening meeting. At BRCT our approach is to focus all our energy on creating a new model of social enterprise dedicated to building a stronger and more resilient community. Practically this means a community office, with 3 staff (2 full-time) engaged in projects approved by our board of governance. Many volunteers support our work and we could not achieve nearly as much as we do without the fantastic pro bono support we receive from experts in Dunedin and nationally.
So far this year a lot of staff time has been dedicated to BRCT’s main project, the wind farm development, managed by our charitable company, Blueskin Energy Ltd. However we also maintain a number of other services and these include free energy advice and the Home Performance Assessment service. This is independent expert advice to improve home energy performance and is very useful for people who wish to reduce household energy costs, reduce emissions and improve their health and wellbeing. We’re also working to support individuals in in cold houses through a bulk local firewood scheme, by supporting the Cosy Homes Trust and sourcing affordable quality insulation. For those so inclined we also have a carbon offset service.
We have a number of other initiatives that putter along in the background and get attention when time allows. We submitted our opinion on a number of plans and strategies in 2015 (see our submissions on our website) and while the Dunedin Environment Strategy is still being formulated, the City Energy Plan has now been confirmed by Council and we are pleased to see local government taking notice of the big issues.
So as we kick off the new year we’re mindful that we are like many groups and organisations around the world who are working equally hard to address the challenges and we always welcome new ideas, participation and assistance to do even more. Our office is located in Waitati at Waitati School, you can find us on Facebook as Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust, on Twitter as @BlueskinPower and you can call 03 4822249 or call in to visit and find out more about any of our work.
By Scott Willis