The 7 motions

Hej hej!

It has been rather quiet from my side these weeks, but the reason is more than good – very busy and exciting things to do.

Just today, I have returned from Norrköping (Sweden) where Klimatriksdag 2014 took place. A great example of citizenship and democracy, the climate parliament stretched over 3 days full of lectures, workshops, exhibitions and, surely, discussion on motions on climate policies that would be passed to the parliament parties.

 

As a helping hand to CEMUS, Permakultur i Sverige and REALS, I had a pleasure to deeply experience the event from different sides. The first day was full of inspirational talks, and even the clocks on Tyska Torget couldn’t resist and with excitement rang the Swedish Anthem accompanying the words of Johan Rockström. In the evening, the hall at Louis De Geer was full and with a big loud flashmob, the climate scream, the parliament started.

The next day was learning and work. The exhibition consisted of various organizations and project that keep environment and the society in mind. Second hand and fairtrade shops, ethical banking, renewable energy…lots lots of inspirational things! Our green corner gave a good vibe to the picture approaching lifestyles from different sides – education, communities, growing food. We even attracted some beetles from the outside 😉

(image credit: Emilia Rekestad)

The lectures on sustainable systems, economics, infrastructure development gave a good flow towards the discussion of motions. Out of hundreds of proposals, only 6-8 from each of the 7 categories got through to the next round, and then only 5 of each  made it to the final election that was held on Sunday at the astonishing Värmekyrkan. One of the final motions in the category ‘Consumption, food and lifestyle’ was the support for sustainable communities for transition and climate-resilience, prepared by Emilia Rekestad from Permakulture i Sverige.

(image credit: Emilia Rekestad)

And the winners were..(just wait a little while)

After the elections, we listened to special guests, Billy Larsson and Anders Wijkman, about global ethics as the way to solving the climate challenges and about the need for new economic system. Spiced with charming theatrical performance ‘Profeten’ by Najka, the day was heating up, and we were running back to the election site to hear the final results.

The 7 motions were announced and passed to the representatives of (not all, guess who didn’t come) parties that promised to consider them closely.

Energy New owner directives to Vattenfall, a state-owned energy company, to phase out fossil fuels and switch to renewables and high energy efficiency practices

Economy To change the regulations concerning the Swedish pension funds: to transit the investments from fossils fuels towards a sustainable climate-neutral society

Infrastructure  Make environmentally friendly transportation more attractive, including price-wise

Consumption, food and lifestyle Make all public consumption and purchasing environmentally and climate considerate

Influence Integrate sustainability education into schools and kindergartens through both theoretical and practical knowledge

Politics 1) To implement all the environmental goals that were set, but have never been put into practice (increase gasoline tax, increase capacity of railway transport and so on)

2)Decrease the climate impact two-fold over the next mandate period (from CO2 emission to extensive educational programs that will teach how people can reduce their individual impacts)

You can read on them in Swedish here. I can only add that it feels extremely rewarding to be a part of this.

 

 

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Off-grid future

(image credit: Tom Chance)

Using only energy generated on site, BedZED district in Hackbridge (UK) has already become one of the iconic housing development projects. Even though it is still struggling with some technical problems, the implemented solutions and smart planning has brought impressive results in energy and water efficiency, as well as decreased the residents’ car mileage. The creation of self-sufficient communities is seen as a source of opportunities for lowering our impact on the planet, and off-grid electricity may be one of the first steps towards this goal.

For example, communicating the cost efficiency of solar power compared to kerosene, Off Grid Eletric targets developing countries providing them with light and electrical services sourced from their energy hubs equipped with solar panels. In Tanzania,  more than 10000 rural households have already joined their network. The company’s vision is to eliminate the need for more power lines, create jobs, support small entrepreneurs and develop communities through boosted economies, improved health, air and water quality.

(image credit: Matthieu Young)

While some see the “off-grid development” as a possible future for countries and continents, the US has pleased us with some ‘interesting’ news. In Florida, officials ruled off-grid living illegal reasoning it by the fact that houses without electricity and water are considered unsafe to live in. Surely, such news make the day for corporations that become more and more nervous amid the growing popularity of rainwater collection and solar panels installed right on houses. Still, I would say that there is nothing safer than such a self-sustaining lifestyle, and this is not really the question of sustainability – it’s not a secret that solar panels are far from the ideal solutions. Still, having a right of choice is vital for people to build resilient communities.

“We are building the biggest passive house in Sweden”

Kungsholmen_Skyline_and_Shoreline

Kungsholmen in Stockholm is soon going to be famous for the biggest residential block in Sweden that is build according to the passive house standards. It will accomodate 187 appartments and a kindergarten. The company behind the project is Einar Mattson (click for info in Swedish and images).

The house is nicely insulated and almost doesn’t lose heat. The technology allows the house to gain heat from the sun, which may be not very promissing in Sweden in some seasons :), so it will mostly rely on the heat that already exists in the house – from cooking, electric devices, even from people themselves. Special pumps and advanced ventilation system allow for circulating heat, as well as fresh air with no need for openning windows. Even the heat from cars will be reused for supporting the garage.

Future inhabitants will also have to act responsibly. There will be individual metering for water and electricity usage. In return, they get huge energy savings, comfortable, healthy and bright indoor environment and points for saving the environment!

While the apartment price may seem pretty high (it varies, but goes up to around 68000 SEK per sq.m), when one considers the location AND, what is more important, the life-cycle costs, it is relatively fine. Interested? You can already move at the beginning of the next year.

* passive houses are extremely energy efficient buildings that appeared as a concept in 1988. The first houses were built two years later in Germany. There are already more than 15000 of them just in Europe.