Maresa Molloy, responsible for Policy and Information at the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, opened the event and expressed her determination to move forward with supporting a Low Carbon Liverpool. Pete North then provided an overview of the report’s findings, before the audience split into groups to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the report. Having now had time to read the report and digest it a little, I wanted to highlight some of the sections that might be particularly interesting for Transitioners in Liverpool.
One of the primary aims of the report is to assess whether Liverpool has the right policies in place to support the transition to a low carbon world with fewer resources. In a broad sense then the report is investigating what kinds of ‘futures’ Liverpool development organisations are imagining and whether they are feasible.
Currently there are four main future directions seen for Liverpool, from a growth/business perspective:
- The visitor economy
- The knowledge economy
- The Super Port
- The Low Carbon Economy
In order to suggest how carbon and resource use reduction could be embedded at all levels, the report first looks at what makes it possible/difficult for small to medium enterprises (SME’s) to make the necessary changes and what kind of support could be provided. This section includes a large selection of quotes from business people themselves, which makes it more credible to a broader audience.
Next, the report discusses how to support Social Enterprises. This section might be of most interest to Transitioners (some projects already running get a nice mention) and Transition Liverpool itself is described as operating as a ‘green niche’ that provides support for developing innovative ideas before moving into social entrepreneurship. (Would be interested in hearing what others think about that! :)). Particular benefits of Social Enterprises are that they may be better able to provide benefits for Liverpool residents. Enterprises focused around local energy, for example, could get to work developing energy infrastructure that is locally owned. Local food producers that could work together with Windmill, for example, and so increase food availability without displacing existing Social Enterprises. The section (5.4) on taking an SE approach to reshaping the leisure/visitor sector presented a vision of a vibrant, edgy city that was inspiring and exciting.
The report also challenges what counts as ‘improvement' and ‘growth’, as well as what counts as a 'key performance indicator'. It usefully provides a range of other metrics and models (Section 9 and Appendix 3), that could be used instead. Rather than approaching the future according to what’s gone before (future casting) the report challenges development agencies to see our current situation within the context of a fundamental shift that requires us to rethink all our assumptions.
What it suggests for us is just how important it is to influence these future visions so that they are understood in terms of increased sustainability and local resilience. The Low Carbon Economy strategy, for example, seems to be banking on the ‘technofix’ solution to climate change/resource depletion (i.e. assuming that technology will solve all our problems, an assumption that Sharon Astyk, for one, has been great at debunking) and so fails to deal with the broader issues. Those of us so inclined might want to contact councillors, development agency reps etc, and emphasise our support for the idea of a Low Carbon Liverpool strategy and recommend the report to them.
Overall, the report gives a great overview of how climate change and resource depletion are being approached within the funded bodies charged with improving the city, as well as strategies for shifting these approaches. It also provides a good framework for starting to think about what an Energy Descent Action Plan for Liverpool might look like. In particular it speaks to the business communities that need to be on board if any kind of EDAP is to be successful. Most importantly, it highlights the need for us to put forward our own vision of a future Liverpool that uses less, but lives more.