First the bad news – Carbon Coop, which made the finals of a competition with £100,000 funding for community-based energy savings to be won, fell at the final hurdle. But there are other irons in the fire…
Manchester Climate Monthly asked Jonathan Atkinson for Carbon Co-op’s reaction to the news.
Carbon Co-op would like to thank all the individuals and organisations who voted for and supported our energshare bid, the People’s Republic of Energy. We had an amazing response with over 1,000 votes in less than 3 weeks but in the end the prize went to a hydro-project in Northumbria who attracted 3000+ votes, we’d like to congratulate them and wish them all the best with their project.
We gave it our best shot with the resources available, one observation is that simple projects with relatively low levels of carbon savings, such as community hydro, seemed to attract support whilst more ambitious projects such as ours found it harder. The questions this raises: how do you make solid wall insulation and tackling fuel poverty sexy? I think we’re not the only ones grappling with that question at the moment!
Are there other sources of funding that you are looking at to pursue the same project/can the project go ahead in a different form?
The People’s Republic of Energy was our way our packaging up and branding the roll-out of a Greater Manchester retrofit campaign in a way we thought would be simple, understandable and engaging to civil society. Our retrofit programme is absolutely our priority but if the opportunity arises to work with a funder or partner to progress it under the People’s Republic of Energy banner we’d certainly jump on it.
What other projects has Carbon Coop got on the go?
Our focus at the moment is the roll out of our community green deal programme. Everyone is waiting for the Government’s green deal to kick in [see MCFly post here on “Greening the Green Deal”] but we have members here and now in Greater Manchester who want to retrofit their homes and reduce their household energy usage by 80%.
We’re concentrating on bringing these householders together to share knowledge, brokering the leading retrofit expertise in the North West to assist them and have developed a social investment vehicle, the Carbon Re-Investment Society, that can finance these works.
We’ve been adapting our model to recent FIT changes and we’ll be launching a community share issue early in 2012 to fund our retrofit model, watch this space!
We’ve also got a number of other projects and plans on the go and we’ll be making announcements as and when they’re ready in the new year.
Oh, and you can buy People’s Republic of Energy posters! We’ve had loads of requests for them so we thought we could sell them as a Christmas fundraiser!
Anything else you want to tell us?
… these competitions are a lot of fun and potentially very useful but it’s important for groups not to burn out and raise expectations too high and that they (and us) need to concentrate on their core activities – for us retrofit and helping our members save carbon.
I also think in the future Carbon Co-op need to put in some hard work to engage with the mainstream media in Manchester and communicate the importance of an issue they are currently for the most part ignoring.
MCFly editorial (i.e. nowt to do with Carbon Coop, opinions expressed ours not theirs): The People’s Republic of Energy was an interesting proposal, which MCFly encouraged readers to support (see here and here). Manchester Friends of the Earth also vigorously supported the bid. Other groups, with even more impressive email lists – like the City Council, Action for Sustainable Living among others – may have formally supported the bid, but they didn’t exactly pull out the stops to publicise Carbon Coop’s bid and the possibility of bringing all that lovely queensie-facey goodness to Manchester. Perhaps they’d like to explain why?
If only there were a group with a remit to steer the enthusiasm and undoubted numbers of Manchester’s climate-concerned citizens at key moments such as these. No, wait…
Disclaimer: MCFly’s co-editor Marc Hudson knows several of the Carbon Co-op folks relatively well, and has been known to drink beer with one of ’em.