Is One Planet Living possible in Eastbourne?

This blog post is by Andrew Durling, Executive Director of the Eastbourne Eco Action Network CIC. The views he expresses here are his alone and not the official view of the Eastbourne Eco Action Network as a whole:

Eastbourne is striving to become a Carbon Neutral town by 2030 so it can do its fair share of dealing with the Climate Emergency. This does, of course, involve reducing the town’s carbon emissions significantly and quickly, but in a sustainable way that doesn’t damage the town’s economy. The town’s carbon emissions fell dramatically in 2020 due to economic activity dramatically falling during the lockdown restrictions. That kind of unplanned carbon reduction was not sustainable and the lockdown caused much economic hardship despite saving many lives and preventing the NHS from collapsing. As soon as lockdown restrictions were removed, economic activity bounced back and carbon emissions rose again sharply.

But what does it mean to have a ‘sustainable’ town anyway? And what do we end up with if Eastbourne does become Carbon Neutral in a sustainable way? In short, what is the big picture, and how do we communicate that in a way which engages all parts of our local community and ensures a truly communal response to the ultimate communal challenge of climate change? These are the sorts of questions that I have been grappling with since a Climate Emergency was declared by Eastbourne Borough Council in July 2019.

I think part of the answer lies in creating a story about what ‘sustainability’ really means and telling that story in a way that is simple, clear, and easy to understand.  Now I’m not clever enough to create such a story, but I know some people who are. They created the One Planet Living framework to explain what sustainability really means and how it can be achieved.

Furthermore that framework can be visually explored through an interactive mindmap – created on the oneplanet.com platform – that shows all the interconnections and interdependencies between the different kinds of actions that together lead to a town that sustainably lives within the ecological boundaries of this planetary home of ours.

I have started to create such a mindmap for the Eastbourne Carbon Neutral 2030 campaign, which can be interacted with online, but a screengrab of the current state of the mindmap is here:

The mindmap is composed of nodes representing outcomes, actions, and indicators for monitoring progress. The lines between various nodes represent the ways in which the nodes are related to each other in a web of complementary  and mutually reinforcing interactions. Clicking on any one of the nodes opens up access to information and data about that node. I have created this mindmap using a free account on oneplanet.com, but my plan is to scale up the mindmap with a subscription to a much better featured account so I can put a lot more detail on the mindmap and transform it into a powerful way of monitoring progress towards the 2030 target. I also hope that other individuals or groups in Eastbourne will be interested in creating their own mindmaps and linking them up with each other so that we can all see what is being done in Eastbourne and how they contribute towards the ultimate goal of a town that lives within the limits of this one planet

I did this to demonstrate how the campaign could be presented in a clear, engaging way that shows how the 10 principles of One Planet Living need to be combined and applied in a joined-up way to effectively deliver a town that is not only Carbon Neutral in the narrow sense of the word (ie. emitting no more carbon that it can offset within its own boundaries) but also truly sustainable as an economy and society that can live within planetary boundaries (which is the only way to ensure that the town can stay carbon neutral over the long-term anyway).

Furthermore, these 10 principles also demonstrate how achieving genuine sustainability results in a much better quality of life for all, with very welcome outcomes such as cleaner air, adequate supplies of clean water, flourishing local wildlife, growing numbers of green jobs and businesses, etc. These outcomes are the practical results of actions that increase sustainability and are desirable outcomes regardless of where people stand with regards to the Climate Emergency in particular. In other words, the One Planet Living framework provides a story within which the mechanics of meeting the 2030 carbon neutral target can be embedded within a much wider, more inspirational vision of creating the kind of sustainable yet prosperous society we’d all like to live in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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