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The SCHed talks at Bristol Big Green Week

Jonathon is always a challenging and engaging speaker

During the last 3 days of the Big Green Festival in Bristol, Schumacher College set up its orange beach hut outside the Colston Hall to host the SCHed Talks, along the theme of “What If…?” Speakers dropped by to discuss their ideas in this public space. What if the news were positive? What if politics were truly local?

On Friday evening, Jonathon Porritt took the microphone to ask: What if sustainability could be the saving of us all? He argued that it’s not a matter of if we move to a low-carbon and then a zero-carbon world, but of when we do so, and how elegantly. Obviously, the sooner we walk that path with conviction, the less painful it will be for everyone. And in fact, for many people a low/zero-carbon world will mean an improvement in their lives: as energy generation, enterprise and associated activities become more localised, the economic benefits stay in the area rather than being sucked away. In this way, sustainability can be seen to be the saving of wide swathes of society, and not just the playground of well-intentioned middle class campaigners.

Jonathon Porritt on  Dartmoor Electric BicycleJonathon is always a challenging and engaging speaker, and the audience in their deckchairs were keen to question and reflect on his ideas. Before setting off for his next talk at the Arnolfini, he took time to try out one example of the low-carbon businesses that are springing up around Schumacher College. Dartmoor Electric Bicycles provides a healthy and accessible way to explore Dartmoor away from the car, offering guided tours on their top-of-the-range Swiss e-bikes. Most people who visit Dartmoor venture only a few hundred metres from their vehicles, and casual cyclists are put off by the steepness of the hills. The extra powerful batteries on these bikes make it possible to cover over 30 miles even on the steep lanes of Dartmoor and a full charge costs around 9p. That makes them a very low-carbon means of transport at the moment — but of course once everyone has solar PVs they’ll be zero-carbon.

Another elegant transition on the road to sustainability.