Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century - Sustainable ...

Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century - Sustainable ...

Sustainable Development Commission Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century

Foreword‘Whatever it takes, for as long as it takes’That phrase has become the watchword of governmentsaround the world when it comes to sorting out the implosionin capital markets. For the last eighteen months, they’vebeen working together in unprecedented unity to try andrestore economic stability.Compare that, however, with governments’ combinedresponse to accelerating climate change, collapsingecosystems, the Millennium Development Goals and so on– the sum of all those civilisation-threatening crises identifiedby governments from the early 1990s onwards. Stumbling,uninspired incrementalism would be a generous description.That may now be changing. President Obama has seizedhold of the climate change agenda, and has inspired peopleall over the world with his plans for getting rid of nuclearweapons. Governments of many different persuasions arecompletely re-thinking their strategies to help protect therainforests. China is driving forward a number of ‘disruptiveinnovation’ programmes on renewable energy andtransportation that could astonish everyone. The UK’s ClimateChange Act has become the first legislation in the world toset legally-binding short, medium and long-term targets forreducing greenhouse gases.But setting targets, however ambitious they may be, isnot of itself a breakthrough. The increasing levels of R&D forsustainable technologies is not of itself a breakthrough. Andmaking sure that things are at least not getting worse is not,of itself, a breakthrough. We all know that things need to geta very great deal better very quickly indeed.Views differ as to just how much time we’ve got tomake those changes. On climate change, very little, say anincreasingly worrying number of very eminent scientists.If that’s true, and if we pick up on Lord Stern’s advice togovernments that up to 2% of annual GDP will need to beinvested in a rapid transition to a low-carbon world, howlong before ‘whatever it takes, for as long as it takes’ alsobecomes the watchword of global climate diplomacy?And climate change, however big and daunting it maybe, is only one facet of the broader sustainable developmentagenda. It is now more than four years since the UKGovernment published its second Sustainable DevelopmentStrategy, ‘Securing the Future’. During that time there hasundoubtedly been some progress. We have cleaner air.More of our waste is re-used and recycled. Crime rates arefalling, people are living longer and, until recently, we wereexperiencing a period of steady economic growth and highlevels of employment.But on the whole, we have still not seen the kind oftransformation that is needed. Indeed, the most recentevidence tells us that levels of inequality in the UK havenot been reduced since 1997, which demonstrates justhow far we have still to go in terms of creating a genuinelysustainable economy. We seem bogged down on so manydifferent fronts.That’s why, in 2008, the Sustainable DevelopmentCommission launched ‘Breakthroughs for the 21st Century’.We wanted to bring together a dynamic and hard-hittingportfolio of ideas that could really inspire and motivatepolicy-makers and others to set the UK much more decisivelyon the path to becoming a sustainable society.See what you think about these potential breakthroughs.If you’re excited by them, what can you do to help makethem a reality? They may not be the sum total of what’srequired, so we encourage everyone to come up with theirown – and make them happen!Jonathon PorrittChairman, Sustainable Development Commission

Jonathon Porritt SDC ChairAlan Knight SDC Commissioner, Sustainable Consumption and BusinessAlice Owen SDC Commissioner, Local and Regional PolicyRebecca Willis SDC Vice Chair for WhitehallFinding BreakthroughsWe knew there were good ideas out there – compellingpropositions that, put into action, could really help makethe UK more sustainable. So, last autumn, we invitedexperts, practitioners and enthusiasts to share their thinkingwith us, and those breakthrough ideas started pouring in.And because sustainable development has intergenerationalequity at its core, we made a point of seeking the views ofyoung people too (see page 4).To put together a portfolio of the best and brightest,we’ve looked at every single one of the 285 submissionswe received from organisations and individuals across theUK. As we sifted out those we felt were the strongest, wewere looking for ideas that could create some kind of shift inthe next three to five years – or at least make steps towardsa longer term change – as well as inspire others to makethat change.Our selection meetings, involving Commissioners andpolicy analysts from across the SDC, led to a shortlist of 40ideas which we then took to a wider audience, to get morefeedback and see whether others shared our enthusiasm.Over 200 commentaries helped us decide on the finalpackage of ideas we wanted to present.The nineteen ‘Breakthrough Ideas’ set out on thefollowing pages are spread across the spectrum of sustainabledevelopment, with solutions ranging from policy changeto grassroots action to technological innovation. Theyencompass varying levels, from individuals, to communities,cities, and things that need to be done at national orinternational level. Indeed, many of the ideas are drivenfrom the grassroots, but require government to act asthe enabler.The ideas are not all completely new, and they arecertainly not rocket science. Some have been around fora while, but need to be mainstreamed or scaled up. Thebreakthrough is sometimes about simply making a goodidea happen! Others build upon concepts about self-reliance,community and frugality which have served our nationwell in the past – concepts which have renewed relevancein an economic downturn and given the climate changeimperative.We’ve presented the ideas grouped into three broadcategories:• Sustainable lives: ideas which are symbolic of the waysin which we as individuals can be directly enabled tochange our own lifestyles and work with others at acommunity level• Sustainable places: ideas which are iconic in terms ofchanging the built environment, our infrastructure andgreen spaces, in ways which could help reinforce and‘lock in’ new and more beneficial ways of living• Sustainable economy: ideas which change themarketplace, the signals about price and value, makingmore sustainable choices easier and more accessible.Our selection represents just a few of the great ideas outthere – the tip of a rather impressive iceberg. The processwe have been through to reach this point demonstrates thesheer amount of creativity and innovation there is in the UKin response to the challenge of creating a more sustainablesociety. Most of the ideas we’ve picked are at an early stageand will need a great deal more work in the form of researchand development. This report, and the events that go withit, are simply ways of throwing the spotlight on innovativethinking and encouraging you and others reading this to helpconvert the thinking or demonstration projects into concreteinitiatives. The real breakthroughs will come in the wayGovernment, business and other organisations nurture thistalent and enable ideas like these to happen quickly and ata transformative scale.What do we mean by a ‘breakthrough’For us, a ‘breakthrough’ is something that movesus decisively away from the status quo or the usualincremental change. It provides some kind of step change,if not a quantum leap, towards a significant outcome.Past breakthroughs have included the Clean Air Act ofthe 1950s, the signing of the Good Friday Agreement inNorthern Ireland, and legislation to ban smoking in publicplaces. We aim to find the ideas which will createequivalent breakthroughs in sustainability.Breakthroughs can be new ways of thinking or working.They may be new technological solutions. They can alsobe something that has been suggested before but forsome reason has not happened yet; or something thatis already happening that could be scaled up or appliedacross the UK. Sometimes the breakthrough can be howyou get an idea to happen, rather than the idea itself.Commissionerworking group Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

Invited ideas fromsustainability experts,practitioners andenthusiastsFree BikesAlgal CarbonCapture andStorageRoyal Bank ofSustainabilityBiomass andSoilsCap and ShareCongress forthe FutureCommunitywind turbinesCountrysideContractsDesignWaysDomesticTradeableQuotasEco Zones/CommunitiesEnhancedRe-mediationand CarbonSequestrationin SoilsFife DietFood RevolutionFrom ‘Pre-pay’to ‘Pay as yousave’Green BondsGreenConstitutionCommissionGreen CorpsIndependentmonitoringbodyKyoto2Local FoodCompetitionLow CarbonZonesManchesterbuildingsretrofitMid-termshareholderloyalty sharesOpen FeedbackOutdoorexperiencesPersonal CarbonBudgetsProject DirtPublicsector foodprocurementRegionalResourceBalanceRethinkingGardeningPracticesRetrofittingBuildings withNo Upfront CostSevenGenerationsBodySoilManagementSteady StateCityGreen IncThe EcologicalInnovation Zone(EIZ)Travel CentresWaterNeutralityHappiness285 ideassubmitted40 ideasshort-listedTestingwith wideraudienceFinal selectionmeetingLivesPlaces1 2 3 4 5 67 8 9 10 11 1219BreakthroughideasEconomy13 14 15 16 17 18 19

A better UK for future generations – engaging young peopleAll these breakthrough ideas, wide-ranging as they are, havea common aim: a better future. So is this how today’s youngpeople see their world? What should a future UK look like tothem, if it is to meet their needs and desires, and those ofsucceeding generations? We wanted to know. We wanted tohear their suggestions for how we get there – and whether theysee the main challenges of sustainability in the same way.What we heard, as we hoped and expected, didfrequently echo what we were hearing in our other research.But when it came to creative ideas, the breakthroughs thatyoung people suggested to us were sometimes refreshinglynew, and less constrained by preconceptions about what canbe achieved.We spent a full day with the Children and Youth Board(CYB) – a group set up by the Department for Children,Schools and Families to provide a real sounding board forits policies – and invited more views through a survey tothe existing networks of We Are What We Do and the YouthParliament.This is what they told us...Young people’s concernsQuality of mylocal environment,feeling safe, andhaving places toplayBeing able to getaround – improvedpublic transportDifficulty ofgetting peopleto change theirbehaviourNeed for positiverole models andfor people to showleadershipSustainable foodand farmingAbility to influencedecisions at localand national levelRisingunemploymentand povertyLack of faithin currentinstitutions’ abilitysolve problems:Tackling climatechange andincreasingrenewable energyCrime – risinggun and knifecrimeEducation‘rubbish politicians’ –‘loss of confidencein the establishment’- ‘ignorance ofparents, childrenand teachers’Need for morerecyclingTeenage pregnancyand sex educationFairness foreveryone– ‘negativeeffect of themedia on people’sperception ofthings’ Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

Young people’s ideasShow us how to do it!Provide interactiveexamples of whatindividuals can do, sowe can see it and take itback to our own homesand schoolsThomas, 18, North East& Vicky, 13, South WestIf you have the power tochange something thenyou should use it. Use itfor good not for profit.Children and Youth Board 2009The world needs to beless focused on moneyChloe, 15, West MidlandsThere should be aplan to reduce everyperson’s carbonfootprint in an easy andsimple way that meanspeople will do it. Sothis could be individualtargets for the typicalfamily in a leaflet thateveryone gets withways on how exactlyto reduce their energyconsumption.Alice, 15, South EastEncourage people to usebikes – introduce schoolcycling programmes,providing subsidised orfree bikes, make saferroutes, and encouragepeople to use a bikee.g through a ‘cycle toschool’ week. It’s goodfor health as well andsaves you money.Eathan, 16, London& Avril, 17, South EastBuy responsibly– ‘name and shame’companies whenirresponsible methodsare usedAlice, 17, EastNeed to make peoplemore passionateabout SustainableDevelopmentRemziye, 15, LondonPolitical Leaders need toprioritise sustainabilitybeyond their politicalterms of officeChildren and Youth Board 2009Reward communitieswho’ve done wellDaniella, 12, East MidlandsControl car congestionin the Central BusinessDistricts in big townsand cities. Publictransport schemessuch as park and ridecould be a substitute.This would both easethe carbon emissionsand make traffic flow ininner city areas muchfaster and safer.Thomas, 17, Northern IrelandLeaders should provideexamples of how to liveto encourage others tofollow in their footstepsAlys, 16, Yorks & HumberSpend the money forreducing emissions onbetter flood defencesas big enough emissionreductions won’thappen.Chris, 16, East MidlandsEducation! Education!Education! Have moreprojects inside andoutside of school, sochildren find out whatthey are good at, andhave a passion for,therefore not resultingin gun crime. As schoolisn’t for everyone so itis important that theyhave a goal.Devika, 18, LondonSustainable Development Commission Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century

The need for BreakthroughsWe know we need to do much more to make the UK a trulysustainable society – one that is prosperous, healthy, fair andoperates within environmental limits. The imperative to avoidreally dangerous levels of climate change represents just oneof these limits, and responding to them in a way which isfair, equitable and economically sound is what sustainabledevelopment is all about. Compelling evidence on the state ofthe environment, the economy and social trends (see below)underpins the increasing awareness amongst organisationsand individuals of the challenges that we face, and the needfor us to face these challenges head on.‘We are today faced with a crisis of sustainability.’Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for the Environment, 2009 1Many of these challenges aren’t new – but we do now findourselves in extraordinary times. Paradoxically, the economiccrisis has opened up new political space. There’s a growingrecognition that in response to global changes we need notjust more resilient economies, but more resilience at theindividual and community level to meet external shocks.The mood of the day is that things need to change –and more and more people are eager to be a part of makingthat happen.On climate change alone, there are between 2000 and4000 active community groups. 2The rapidly growing Transition Towns movement, workingon communities’ resilience to peak oil and climate change, isone powerful example, and in this report we highlight SouthLondon’s ‘Project Dirt’, one of a growing number of activeweb-based communities linking environmental projectsat local level to create more critical mass (see page 15).The interest and opportunity is there. So is the pressingneed – to find Breakthroughs, and make them happen!‘If I had to choose one word that best describes theimpetus for our journey to a low carbon economy,it would be ‘resilience’. The creation of an economy,ecology and society with greater resilience has manyaspects, but the three which stand out are the role oftechnology; the importance of individual and collectivebehaviour change; and changes in culture, values andexpectations.’Jan Bebbington, SDC Commissioner 3sustainable livesFactors influencing subjectivewellbeing (happiness) 41Limited progress has been madeon reducing income inequalities,and the gap between the richest andpoorest tenths is increasing. 5Community and Friends 5%Religious/spiritual life 6%Money and financial situation 7%A niceplace to live8%Health24%Work fulfilment 2%Don’t know/other 1%Partner/spouseand familyrelationships47%2Although the number of children inlow-income households decreasedfrom 27% to 22% between 1997 and2007, one in five children still live inpoverty, and the UK is not on track tomeet its 2011 target for child poverty. 63Life expectancy has increased in allareas of the UK 7 , but the pace ofimprovement has been slower in poorerareas 8 . Mental health 9 and obesity 10have become particular challenges.4The UK ranks 24th in a leaguetable of 29 European countries onchild wellbeing, well below countriesof similar affluence. Only Romania,Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Maltado worse. The ranking looked at sevendifferent areas, including health,education, children’s views of abouthow they feel about themselves andtheir relationships 115The UK has the highest rate ofchildhood obesity in the EU. 126Road traffic volume has risen by20% since 1990, while walkingand cycling have decreased. 13 Many carjourneys are avoidable; 25% of all carjourneys in the UK are under a mile,while two thirds are under five miles. 147Despite the fall in crime since 1995,two in three people believe crimehas increased in the last two years. 15 Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

sustainable placesExpected increases in population1 will create new and competingdemands for land to be used forhousing, infrastructure and foodproduction.Despite improvements following2 government initiatives,existing housing stock in the UK stillrequires massive energy efficiencyimprovements to meet climate changetargets and to combat rising fuelpoverty. Existing homes are responsiblefor 27% of the total CO 2emissions ofthe UK, and around 80% of the homeswe will inhabit in 2050 already existtoday. 163In 2006, approximately 3.5mhouseholds (14%) in the UK werein fuel poverty 17 . Almost a quarter ofhouseholds in Wales, and a third ofhouseholds in Northern Ireland andScotland 18 were fuel poor in 2006.Latest estimates predict that theproblem had worsened by 2008. 194Access to quality green spacescan substantially reduce healthproblems, 20 but only 50% of children inEngland rate their local green space asfairly good, 21 and only 29% of childrentoday enjoy most of their adventuresin the natural outdoors, compared with70% of adults as children. 225While the overall condition of Sitesof Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)is improving, the UK is below thepercentage needed to be in ‘favourable’or ‘unfavourable recovering’ condition’by 2010, and is not on target to haltbiodiversity loss by 2010. 23sustainable economyAfter a period of steady growth,1 the UK is now experiencing severeeconomic recession.2‘From 1981 to 2005, the globaleconomy more than doubled, but60 percent of the world’s ecosystemswere either degraded or over-used.’ 243If everyone in the world consumednatural resources and generatedCO 2at the rate we do in the UK, we’dneed more than three planets tosupport us. 254Although the UK is on track tomeet Kyoto targets to reducegreenhouse gas emissions, an apparentdecrease in CO 2emissions (of around8%) becomes a significant increase(18%) once emissions embedded intrade and travel are considered. 265The UK is one of the poorestperformers among EU countriesin supplying energy from renewablesources, and is not on track to meetnational and EU targets. Projectionssuggest that the share of renewables inthe energy mix will merely increase to5% in the UK by 2020, well below theEU target of 20%. 27UK Carbon Dioxide Emissions 28Million tonnes (carbon dioxide)80070060050040030020019921994CO 2covered by Kyoto target(excluding aviation and shipping)1996199820002002CO 2associated with UKconsumption (includingemissions from transportationand production of imports)20042006Sustainable Development Commission Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century

Breakthroughs forsustainable livesIdeas which are symbolicof the ways in which we asindividuals can be directlyenabled to change our ownlifestyles and work with othersat a community levelIncredible Edible Todmordencanalside vegetable box Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

Breakthroughs in land-use for food and social benefit‘Going local’ is only one aspect of the whole complex issue of sustainable food.It’s significant, however, that a number of ideas submitted to the SDC for anoverall ’food revolution’, centred firmly on the re-localisation of food andsupport for local producers.This localisation provides the key to improved access to fresh seasonal produce,reconnecting producers and consumers, reducing transport-related emissionsand increasing resource-efficient production. It also supports social interaction bybringing people together to make more of public and private space.We have chosen to showcase two practical initiatives. The first is basedon what’s happening in ‘Incredible Edible Todmorden’, West Yorkshire, andencouraging other communities to follow their lead. The second idea is for a newproject to make use of under-used land for community gardening.

Incredible edible communities1sustainable livesRowena Hay, Commission for Architecture and the BuiltEnvironment (CABE), says: ‘Inspired by a trip to Todmorden,CABE has been “pollinated” by the “incredible edibles”idea. The windowsills and balconies around CABE offices aresprouting herbs, flowers and veggies for staff consumption– and enlivening our environment by engaging everyonein growing.’SDC‘Every community can be inspired to act more sustainably bygrowing and consuming local food. Reconnecting food andconsumers and reconnecting people with the land is key.The idea of a nationwide competition is all about stimulatinginnovation and creating new possibilities, even in a timeof recession; any neighbourhood in any city can do it. Itallows for cross-fertilisation between different sectors, showspeople how to share, and encourages local authorities towork with local community groups who are finding solutionsto local problems.’Encouraging communities to grow and eat local foodPam Warhurst, Incredible Edible Todmorden‘Incredible Edible Todmorden aims to increase the amountof local food grown in both public and private spaces andeaten within the town. Businesses, schools, farmers and thecommunity are all involved.A national programme along the same lines could inspiremore towns and communities to work towards this goal.Rolling this out as a competition means you could have onescheme based on the “all entrants are winners” model, asin Britain in Bloom’s Neighbourhood Awards. A second tiercould be competitive, identifying the best local food townsin each region.Local food is the door to a sustainable lifestyle. Or, to putit another way, food is the trigger for greater engagementwith the big issues such as climate change and health. It cutsacross age, income, race and class. In Todmorden, vegetablesand fruit are springing up everywhere. Public flower bedsare being transformed into community herb gardens andvegetable patches. We’ve set up a campaign called “EveryEgg Matters”, so every egg sold in the town is free-rangeand produced in Todmorden, and another to launch a localfood market, as part of a 10-year programme to “Put theMarket Back into Market Towns”. We’re working with tenantsin social housing to show people how to grow food andcook, and rolling out a toolkit to help bring in a range ofnecessary skill sets, from planning and sustainable designto soil quality expertise.’What happens nextThese ideas aren’t necessarily dependent on newfunding. Incredible Edible Todmorden started with ‘easywins’, financed from individuals’ own pockets. Nor dothey need Local Strategic Partnerships or local authorityleadership – they are community-led. Launching acompetitive element of a nationwide programme,however, would need two years of preparation anddevelopment, with expert growing and cookingadvice for all entrants, free membership of supportorganisations, and support with promotional material.The main ask, to make it possible for communityinitiatives to be self-sustaining, is threefold:• a food land bank, through which land transferredfrom public (and private) bodies can be licensed foraccess by the community• a continuum of learning opportunities, includingschools, diplomas in land-based industries,apprenticeships with farmers, parks departments, etc• incentives for businesses to help develop Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

Rethinking the community garden2capital? How vital is green space for recreation – or, inresponse to concerns about food prices, food miles and theenvironment, is it more important to maximise access togood, healthy and affordable food?Britain has very rigid ideas about how land is used in theprivate sphere. In America, community gardens mean literallythat. Here we grow our own food and flowers in our ownsmall spaces of land. This project is about changing the waythat land ownership and land use is viewed, using activityaround that land to develop social capital and networks.’SDC‘The shift that really needs to happen is not just conceptual,but behavioural. Getting people actively involved will domore than anything to enable them to realise the benefitsof pro-community gardening practice, to rethink the ideaof gardening collectively, and to see how decisions aboutprivate space can affect the public realm.’sustainable livesBuilding community and resilience by turning public spacesand under-used land into urban farmsMatthew Taylor & Steve Broome, Royal Society for theencouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA)‘Gardening in Britain is usually seen as a private activity.But giving the community a stake in growing food andflowers on underused public and private land can changethe way a place thinks about itself. That’s what lies at theroot of this network of projects being conducted within aRSA research framework. Building on existing links withinvarious communities and expanding beyond them, citizensand organisations will re-think gardening practice by usingparcels of private space (gardens), public space (parklands,schools, hospital gardens etc) and underused land(brownfield sites, gardens of disabled and elderly people)to create dispersed urban “farms” for community use andbenefit. A paid “community farmer” will provide vitalcohesion and continuity, help the community work the piecesof land, and reach out to include new network members.The recession gives us both the need and the opportunityto rethink our values. This rethink of gardening poses achallenge to individualism, by proposing instead a shift tocollective benefit. But which benefits? Should we value mosthighly the opportunities that gardening can offer for sharingand reducing consumption (for example through communalgardening tools), reducing isolation, and increasing socialWhat happens nextA funding proposal needs to be developed to get thisoff the ground, and one or more communities needto be identified for a pilot project stretching over 24months. During this time a tool-kit would be developedthat could be applied elsewhere, and feed learninginto other initiatives. RSA Fellows would be the mostactive participants at the outset, but with advances incommunication capacity through online and viral mediatools, it has never been easier to share information,resources and examples of best practice. A wide rangeof stakeholders would be involved through consultationsand partnerships (such as collaboration with the EdenProject). There is already evidence of an appetite forusing green spaces more effectively, as shown in recentnational initiatives such as Channel 4’s Landsharescheme and London’s Capital Growth project. Thisproject does not aim to influence policy makers andgovernment directly, but it will involve a targeted mediacampaign to demonstrate particular achievementswhich will engage the wider Development Commission Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century 11

Breakthroughs in our interaction with natureNatural values: Outdoor experiences for allchildren in the UK3sustainable livesand many spend more time in cars, indoors and in frontof electronic screens than they do outside. This projectaddresses many of the contributing factors, and enlists ourschools to provide a remedy. By organising regular outdoorexperiences, they can encourage the celebration of nature, asense of wonder and (for older children) an exploration of therelationship between contemporary values, negative impactson nature, including the consequences of consumerism andlifestyle choices, and our own wellbeing and identity.‘SDC‘If we’re to be suitably ambitious about this whole issue –how the environment contributes to young people’s wellbeing,and how young people contribute to the well-being ofthe environment – we should aim to make it a sixth objectiveof the government’s Every Child Matters Framework. As aminimum, structures and clear targets for outdoor experiencesneed to be backed up by strong and consistent incentives.Unless this is properly resourced, children’s services, schoolsand other local partners can’t and won’t deliver.‘Getting young people reconnected with the natural worldDr Kate Rawles & Dr Chris Loynes, University of Cumbria‘Young people need outdoor experiences – but a growingnumber aren’t getting any. This project is about reversingtheir “nature deficit” – by ensuring that teaching andlearning in outdoor settings is built into the educationsystem across the board. From early years to secondarylevel, children’s well-being is nurtured by bringing theminto frequent contact with the natural world, helping themto develop the values, knowledge and understanding thatunderpin sustainable lifestyles. We want more schools tofocus on this – and to be assessed on how effectively theydeliver. Environmental organisations can be their naturalallies – with informal education, youth activities and multiagencyservices such as Children’s Centres all playing theirpart too.‘‘If we want children to flourish, to become trulyempowered, then let us allow them to love the earthbefore we ask them to save it.’David Sobel, US writer and pioneer of place-based education‘Outdoor experiences during childhood are a foundationfor developing a personal concern for the environment.Yet we’ve inadvertently created a situation where Britain’sincreasingly urbanised children can grow up with noconnection with trees, birdsong or where their food comesfrom. One in five has never ever visited the countryside,What happens nextThere’s a fair amount to build on, since across the UKthere is significant work already underway and somepolicies in place to promote children’s learning outsidethe classroom. To move forward, we now need to getagreement on what level of outdoor experience ofnature becomes every child’s formal ‘entitlement’, tobe met as an integral part of early years and schoolsprovision. Teachers also need the commitment,confidence and competence to turn this into a regularfeature of what they do. Identifying, promoting andrewarding exemplary practice would all help, but as asolid base there should be a specific focus on outdoorexperience in teacher training, standards for newlyqualified teachers, continuous professional developmentprogrammes, and qualifications for early years andyouth workers. Then there’s the child safety dimension.However confident we are that the benefits of outdoorexperience outweigh the attendant risks, we’ll have tofind ways to bring even the most cautious of teachers,parents and governors Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

RSPB Rainham MarshesMore than 6,000 children and young people enjoy a stimulatingconnection with nature outdoors every year at RSPB Rainham Marshesin Essex. The site was recently rated ‘outstanding’ when it was awardedits Quality Badge for Learning Outside the Classroom. ProfessionalRSPB field teachers lead small groups on nature walks and encouragechildren to get stuck in to such ever-popular activities as pond-dippingand mini-beast hunting. But there’s space and time for less structuredexploration, play and reflection too. Activities and materials for teachershelp them extend the outside experience, so it’s not just a one-off butan integrated part of their class’s regular programme.Find out Development Commission Breakthroughs for the twenty-fi rst century 13

Breakthroughs in happinessTaking happiness seriously4sustainable lives‘ Schools aresociety’s best hopefor promotinghappier lives’The new secondary curriculum in England has aims andcross-cutting themes that lend themselves to a deeperunderstanding of sustainable development and wellbeing,and the new primary curriculum is expected to follow.However, we know that teachers, although personallymotivated, feel unprepared to take on these new challenges.The best way of dealing with this would be to extendthe horizons of PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economiceducation) into something that makes a coherent packageof the full range of factors driving happiness and wellbeing.Though the boundaries are already wide (eg identity, health,risk, relationships and diversity), the well-documented linksbetween wellbeing and environmental factors (traffic, litter,green space, nature, noise etc.) are not included. So, webelieve this area of learning should be renamed Personal,Social, Economic and Environmental education (PSEE) or,if that sounds a little heavy, then just Personal WellbeingEducation (PWE).Discovering what makes for a happy lifeProfessor Lord Richard LayardAnn Finlayson, Sustainability and EnvironmentalEducation (SEEd) and SDC Commissioner for Education &Capability Building‘Young people should be given every opportunity to discover forthemselves, throughout their time in education, what makes fora happy life. For personal wellbeing. For social cohesion.These things shouldn’t just be taken for granted, withinsights and understanding about them somehow picked up byosmosis. They should be taught. And that means they have tobe formally incorporated within the school curriculum.’Since 1974, there has been a dramatic increase inemotional and behavioural difficulties as experienced by bothboys and girls. The indicators of child welfare for the UK showBritish children fare worse than all other Western Europeancountries. They get into more fights with friends, get drunkmore often, give birth before 19 more often. Fewer of themare in school.Oliver James, the eminent author and psychologist, oncesuggested that enthusiasts for sustainable developmentshould set aside all the different targets and indicators theylove so much, at both the local and national level, and focuson just one educational outcome: ‘Let us ensure that everychild in the UK reaches the age of six feeling radiantly happyabout their life. That’s the only sure foundation on which tobuild a secure and sustainable world.’We’re a long way away from that! But it’s not too lateto do something about the curriculum in our primary andsecondary schools.What would it mean in practice?‘Students are expressing dissatisfaction with their school livesin many and varied ways. Teachers and teachers’ unions haveraised very serious concerns about the “standards agenda”and its effectiveness in motivating young people to learn.Focusing on this integrated area of concern will bring newvitality to this part of the curriculum. There is a substantialevidence base from all round the world regarding thepositive impact of the kind of community-based actionlearning and teaching of life-skills on which an initiative ofthis kind will depend.Wellbeing programmes have been shown to reduce ratesof depression and improve levels of self-esteem in youngpeople. Action-learning programmes have been shown toreduce rates of truancy and to improve both behaviour andlearning outcomes.Schools become more outward-looking as they connectmore directly with their communities, as research hasdemonstrated 29 .’SDC‘The overall goal would be to get schools and teachersworking with young people to help build self-esteem, to turnthe fuzzy notion of “citizenship” into opportunities to engageand commit – and to do some serious work on what reallymakes people happy in life.’ Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

Breakthroughs in engagementTo secure real breakthroughs, people have to be engaged in the transformation. This meansenabling citizens to take collective action both at the local level and in having a muchstronger stake in the big, long-term choices faced by our country.Mobilising popular supportand collective action5SDCWhilst there are literally thousands of local groups andorganisations already taking action on sustainability, a newgeneration of networking initiatives is emerging. Some havetaken their inspiration from online movements such as, the progressive politics movement in the US which was oneof the springboards for the Obama campaign. There is a growingmood for change, and these new networks have the potentialto link activists groups and projects together, creating criticalmass and hence a much more powerful catalyst for change.We’ve been talking to a number of these such as Green Voice 30 ,Ecomotion 31 , 38 Degrees 32 , Climate Outreach and InformationNetwork 33 , Transition Towns Network 34 , Rural Community CarbonNetwork 35 , Low Carbon Community Network 36 and Project Dirt 37 .The latter, in South London, is one very inspiring local versionwhich has the potential to be scaled up.sustainable DirtMark Shearer & Nick GardnerWith a plethora of community-led projects working towardsenvironmental improvement, but not linking up with eachother, it can feel as if the whole is less than the sum ofthe parts. Project Dirt aims to help this often fragmentedand uncoordinated movement get better at sharing bestpractice. Put simply, it makes information readily accessibleto everyone who wants to know. The best sources of thisinformation are the people involved in current and reallife projects, so Project Dirt’s website provides a neutralplatform for them to set up and manage what they’redoing within the context of a wider green community. Thewebsite currently covers South London, has 900+ membersand receives 150+ visits a day. It is looking to expand acrossthe city, then nationwide.Using Project Dirt, members can quickly discover what isgoing on in any given field. Connecting them with otherswith similar or complementary skills or experience allowsthem to share best practice. The project is currently talkingto several local authorities and businesses about using itswebsite to distribute grants to environmental groups. Butthe real value of Project Dirt is its ability to motivate peopleto become committed and active locally, by showing themall the activity going on all around them.Mark@projectdirt.comwww.projectdirt.comSustainable Development Commission Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century 15

Congress for the future6sustainable lives2050 and beyond20202012CONGRESS FOR THE FUTUREShorttermMediumLongtermtermImagine… the UK with long-term thinking enshrined atthe heart of our democratic processes, raising awareness,creating political space, and generating action on the biggestissues of our time. The Congress for the Future is a way ofgiving adequate attention to the long-term in what hasbecome an overwhelmingly short-term political world. Itwill act as a counterweight to that short-termism and tothe media-inspired “something must be done” quick fixes.Without such a mechanism, is there any way that we canuse sustainable development to tackle issues like prosperity,peak oil or climate change?’SDC‘This proposal does not undermine representativedemocracy, but rather strengthens it by generating a senseof collective responsibility on issues that can’t be solved bygovernment alone. Its status will ensure it has real clout, andits reach will go beyond the policy community, via the mediaand internet, to build national awareness and interest in thetopics under investigation.’Avoiding short-termist policy making by involving citizensin national decision-makingLindsey Colbourne, SDC Commissioner for Engagement &Communications‘This is a breakthrough idea for improving the governance ofthe UK. Its intention is to create a special Congress, convenedby Parliament every year, to help build broad agreement andprovide direction on long-term questions.One or more issues in need of public debate will be putbefore each Congress, either by the Government of the dayor by MPs in response to public petition. Randomly-selectedcitizens and stakeholders will then engage with the issues inan informed, deliberative process, supported by a secretariatto monitor progress. They’ll have scope to solicit input, notleast from MPs and other elected representatives, with theoverall objective of reaching an informed consensus to givelong-term vision and direction to the country.What happens nextThe Congress for the Future will require proper fundingand excellent communications. First of all, though,it needs people to demonstrate commitment to theidea, and work to develop models for getting it off theground. To give it authority, its key procedures shouldbe set by statute and its independence assured. Therecruitment of participants and expert stakeholderscould either be done on a random basis or citizen-jurystyle. Either way, it must be designed to prevent controlby either political parties or the civil Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

Breakthroughs forsustainable placesIdeas which are iconic in terms ofchanging the built environment,our infrastructure and greenspaces, in ways which could helpreinforce and ‘lock in’ new andmore beneficial ways of livingSustainable Development Commission Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century 17

Breakthroughs in the energyperformance of our buildingsLow carbon zones7sustainable placesLong LanePark AvenueGordon House RoadRiversdale Roadprogrammes or financed through low cost loans, so the workcan proceed street-by-street as comprehensively as possible,maximising cost effectiveness and economies of scale.Low Carbon Zones shift the emphasis from targeting thepoorest people to targeting the areas with the poorestquality homes. This is a highly effective way both to boostoverall energy and emissions savings, and to get more helpmore quickly to those in need – the five million fuel poorhouseholds in the UK who in 2008 couldn’t afford to heattheir homes properly. It also marks a shift from central tolocal decision making, reinforcing Local Authorities’ appetitefor tackling fuel poverty and delivering carbon reductionswithin their community. A radical programme, it willrequire a dedicated local presence answerable to the localcommunity and available to “hand hold” occupants throughthe transformation.‘Porritt DriveGrove AvenueCombating fuel poverty, health problems and emissionsby bringing poor-quality housing up to highest energyefficiency standardsDr Brenda Boardman, Lower Carbon Futures, OxfordUniversity Centre for the Environment‘This project proposes Low Carbon Zones – energy actionprogrammes in specially designated areas within every localauthority. In these zones, all homes will be brought up to thebest efficiency standard by 2012 – earning at least a B ratingon the Energy Performance Certificate. Improvements will gobeyond the familiar territory of loft lagging and filling cavitywalls to embrace techniques such as solid wall insulation andzero carbon technologies (such as solar water heating, solarphotovoltaic electricity generation, and community-scalecombined heat and power).Each Local Authority can determine the size and shape ofits own Zone, provided it contains at least 50% of all the fuelpoor households within that Authority’s jurisdiction. Peoplein fuel poverty won’t have to pay, because work on theirhomes will be funded out of income tax. Other householdswill be encouraged to join in too, subsidised through existingSDC‘Bringing cold homes up to the best energy efficiencystandards will bring financial, health and well-being benefitsto occupants for many years, plus crucial carbon emissionsreductions for the UK. Low Carbon Zones will be a costeffective way of achieving this, thanks to the way the workcan be organised to ensure economies of scale. And theeconomy as a whole will benefit from the stimulus to thebuilding industry through local jobs and training.’What happens nextThis idea builds on and scales up existing programmes,delivering more radical improvements, more rapidly.It will play a key role in ensuring that the Governmentachieves its legal obligation to end fuel poverty by2016. Responsibility is shared between central and localgovernment, as part of the move towards devolutionand area-based programmes for energy Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

Greater Manchester retrofit plus8This idea connects benefits for the local economy with futureproofing Greater Manchester’s existing building stock, threequarters of which will still be in use in 2050. Not only willit cut carbon emissions, energy use, household bills andbusiness operating costs, it will create entry level jobs anda skills ladder in the low carbon technologies and servicessector, and business opportunities all along the supply chain,developing and delivering product and services innovations.The model is designed to be replicable across other cities.The proposal for creating this company is targeted atbusinesses who see tackling climate change as a coreconcern. The partnership approach builds on initiatives suchas “Manchester is My Planet” and the “triple helix” of strongpublic sector leadership, a vibrant, innovative and tuned inacademic community, and a track record of successful supplychain intervention to deliver jobs and skills.’sustainable placesFuture-proofing Manchester’s building stock whileproviding employment, skills and long-term investmentopportunitiesMike Reardon, Association of Greater Manchester Authorities‘The vast majority of Greater Manchester’s homes andbusinesses still need converting to much higher energyefficiency standards, and low- and zero-carbon heat and power.So this breakthrough idea involves setting up a company wherethe local authorities partner with the private sector to bringtogether the necessary finance and expertise, and stimulate thedevelopment of innovative products and services.The company offers residents and businesses astraightforward choice of off-the-shelf low carbon retrofitpackages appropriate to local circumstances, delivered byapproved agents and backed by financing deals to cover theup-front cost. The repayments would be made over time(perhaps via a Pay As You Save mechanism linked to theproperty’s energy bill – see page 20). Risk would be spreadby bundling large numbers of upgraded home projectstogether, making up-front financing an attractive propositionfor long-term investors such as pension funds.The company’s activities would also extend to owningand operating low- and zero-carbon energy generation atcommunity scale – bringing in revenue from the sale ofheat and power to local residents and businesses (perhapsincluding new-build developments), and for excess electricitydelivered into the grid. At its best, it would localise energysupply as well as reducing demand for energy and looking atthe total carbon footprint of our wider lifestyles.SDC‘Despite significant activity in carbon reduction at a nationallevel, the evidence is that current efforts aren’t workinganything like fast enough. A viable and attractive model tostimulate investment in sustainable infrastructure in existingcommunities is still urgently needed. Solutions tailored tospecific areas are likely to be able to go further and delivergreater carbon reductions whilst bringing a host of benefitsto local communities.’What happens nextThe investment model development is under way. Therelevant government departments – DECC, CLG andBERR – may have to be persuaded of the advantagesof developing this integrated approach. Issues aroundgrid connection and energy price points will need tobe resolved via close partnership with the utilities andthe regulators. Greater Manchester also has plans for aClimate Change Agency.For the business model to work, it needs togenerate a secure revenue flow, and to be ableto access long-term affordable financing and newinnovative financing schemes. Rolling it out will relyon mainstreaming successful pilot projects, finding andenlisting visionary local leaders, and strengtheningsocial business models. Developing the skills baseis Development Commission Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century 19

From ‘pre-pay’ to ‘pay as you save’9sustainable places££Consolidated payments3rd partyfinanceBilling process(existing:Energy,Water, Counciltax etc.)£££££Home to beupgraded£EnergyupgradeOngoing activityOne time activityFinancing home energy efficiency measures through futuresavings on energy billsDavid Adams, Knauf Insulation‘This is a smart way of financing energy efficiency measuresin people’s homes, which gets round their reluctance – orinability – to pay up front for future benefits. The project buildsupon the concept of third party financing the upfront costsrepaid via a charge on the property rather than the individual.This will enable the costs to be spread over a sufficient periodso that repayments are less than energy cost savings, so thehouseholder sees a net financial benefit every time the billarrives – whether they own the place, rent it, or take it onwith this arrangement already up and running.The project has developed this basic idea into acomprehensive policy package providing further incentivesby relating stamp duty and/or council tax to home energyperformance and guaranteeing quality through an integratedaccreditation scheme.The level of savings will be dependent on fuel costs.Taking a conservative estimate* applying a basket ofmeasures worth £8,600 to a 3 bed semi would delivernet average savings of £50 per year over a 25 year loanperiod, rising to £900 per year thereafter. If fuel pricesrise at 4% per year, this rises to over £200 per year. Thisis on top of improving the Energy Performance Certificaterating from E to C, and saving 3 tonnes of CO 2per year.*With a 30% reduction on Q4 2008 prices, followed by a 5% increase peryear, and taking 9 years to return to 2008 pricesNobody need be deterred any longer by up-front costs; the samemechanism can be applied to “fuel poor” and “able to pay”households; and the Government will be able to make energyefficiency improvements mandatory at specific times (as, forinstance, under the “consequential improvement” requirementsin building regulations) without accusations of unfairness. Linkingthe charge to the bill payer also removes the “split incentive”problem in the rental sector, where it is tenants who stand togain from lower bills and greater comfort, but landlords who pay(or won’t pay) for the work. Likewise, it enables registered sociallandlords to finance energy efficiency improvements whichcannot be recouped through rent increases.’SDC‘Household energy use currently accounts for over a quarter ofthe UK’s carbon emissions. To achieve a breakthrough in carbonreduction, as the Government acknowledges, emissions frombuildings need to be down to almost zero by 2050. And energyinefficient homes are a contributory cause not only of climatechange, but also of fuel poverty – a misery for growing numbersof people.Sadly, many are still being left cold by the existing casefor energy efficiency. The upfront costs barrier is compoundedwhen people aren’t sure of remaining in their homes longenough to recoup their investment, or (for landlords rather thanowner-occupiers) when they aren’t the ones who’ll be gettingthe energy cost saving. But both these conundrums are neatlyunlocked by this idea of linking loans for energy efficiencyworks to the property rather than its owner. As outlined inSDC’s Sustainable New Deal, no climate change strategy willsucceed without a comprehensive upgrading of the existinghousing stock.’What happens nextTo gain customer confidence and incentivise installers, anaccreditation and quality assessment scheme needs to belinked to the financial package. After all, everything relieson achieving the promised energy savings. And, althoughthe initial financing concept is fairly easy to grasp, itsdetails need to be accessible to potential customers andpolicy makers. In any event, the role of local – and central– government will be key. Encouragingly, Ed Miliband,the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change,has already given vocal support to the Pay as you Saveconcept, which also features in Conservative Party’s LowCarbon Economy policy paper.Contactdavid.adams@knaufinsulation.com20 Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

Breakthroughs in how we use our landBiochar and soils: A win-win for climateand communities10Water vapourand C0 2WoodchipGasifier buildingHeatElectricityWood chipsAbsorbs C0 2and water vapourLocal,sustainableforestryProviding renewable heat, improving soil quality andcreating carbon sinks with biocharProfessor Tim Lenton & Dr. Zoe Wallage, University ofEast Anglia‘The biochar process converts part of our waste stream intoa form of carbon which can be locked back into the soil– a “negative emissions” system which has the potentialto become widespread across the UK. It is based on theburning of biomass waste in a modern process akin toancient charcoal-making. The biomass goes into a pyrolysingenergy-and-charcoal generator, which drives a local heatingsystem, producing a useful synthesis of gas and bio-oil,and converting the remaining half of the carbon intobiochar. Once in the soil, if properly managed, this carbonis permanently removed from the atmosphere. Adding“biochar” to agricultural soil has many other benefits: it canimprove the soil structure and enhance its nutrient and waterretention ability, so potentially you get better crops withless fertiliser, less need for irrigation and fewer problems ofeutrophication of streams and rivers.This idea combines a form of Carbon Capture and Storagewith the simultaneous recycling of waste, the production ofalternative and renewable fuel sources, the enhancement ofagricultural productivity, and the promotion of more energyindependent communities at the local scale. At present, bycontrast, huge quantities of biomass “waste” generated byfarms, forestry and in rural regions (England alone currentlyproduces over 272 million tonnes a year) is often simplyburned or just allowed to biodegrade, emitting methane andnitrous oxide as well as carbon dioxide.’SDC‘Sustainable energy generation and food production mustbe at the core of a sustainable society, and over the comingcenturies we will need to enhance natural carbon sinksto return CO 2concentrations to pre-industrial levels. Thisapproach addresses both these sustainability issues – thefuture equilibrium, and the legacy problem. It is not a Globalpanacea – there will be parts of the world where it may notbe an appropriate technology. But for the UK as a whole, ithas been estimated that biochar could sequester as much asabout 10% of current annual carbon emissions. Furthermore,once the infrastructure is in place, it will generate long-termbenefits with minimal further investment.‘What happens nextRobust environmental lifecycle impact assessments willbe a prerequisite before putting the biochar conceptinto practice at scale. UK waste legislation will needto be revised, to recognise biochar as a co-productrather than a by-product of the bio-energy process, inorder to prevent restrictions on burying it. Governmentinnovation and support will need to be combinedwith proper public engagement. With relatively littlemedia attention so far, biochar is currently rather thepoor relation amongst other larger-scale approaches toCarbon Capture and, School of Environmental Sciences., Low Carbon Innovation placesSustainable Development Commission Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century 21

Breakthroughs in healthFewer patients are a virtue11sustainable placesTREATMENT96%(reduces to 80%by 2020)4%20%increaseBy 2020, 20% of all health spending dedicated topreventing illness and public healthAnna Coote, New Economics Foundation and SDCCommissioner for Health‘A strong, healthy and just society is a central principle ofsustainable development. So when we focus on cutting CO 2levels, for instance, mitigating the harmful effects of climatechange on health is a really important driver. Some of thebreakthroughs we feature have a number of positive impacts –“making cycling mainstream” (page 23) promises to improvehealth by increasing levels of physical activity, cutting harmfulair and noise pollution, and reducing traffic accidents. “Naturalvalues” (page 12) draws on strong evidence that time spentin outdoor environments has positive effects on physical andmental well-being. The same is true of projects promotinggardening and local food (page 10 –11), which offer additionalbenefits from healthy eating.It cannot be left to the NHS alone to improve the health ofthe population. Indeed, if it were, the NHS couldn’t cope. In his2002 Review for the Treasury 38 , Sir Derek Wanless warned thatif people were not encouraged to lead healthier lives, NHS costscould spiral out of control. He outlined three scenarios: “fullyengaged” (with a focus on preventing illness and making betteruse of health resources), “solid progress” and “slow uptake”.Taken over a 20-year period, he found, the “fully engaged”scenario would not only be the least expensive, but would alsodeliver the best health outcomes – and the gap between thisand the worst scenario would have grown to around £30 billion– half of what the NHS spent in total in the year he was writing.This makes a compelling case for all the different sectors andtoTotal health spending (£92.3 billion in 2008)PREVENTIONservices, including education, employment, planning, housing,benefits, transport, sport, leisure and environment, to shareresponsibility – and work together – to address the underlyingcauses of illness and health inequalities.However, the NHS must play its part, and that too willrequire a breakthrough. Currently, nearly all its budget goes– directly or indirectly – on the treatment and care of illness,while it only spends 4% of the £92.3 billion it gets fromtaxpayers on prevention and public health. 39 Yet more thanhalf the illnesses treated by the NHS are preventable. 40 This isunsustainable, unethical and unjust. Unsustainable, because ina low-growth or no-growth economy, there will be less moneyto pay for public services; funds for meeting unavoidableneeds should not be wasted on meeting those that couldhave been prevented. Unethical because avoidable risks– including obesity, mental illness, homelessness, incarcerationand educational underachievement – undermine people’swell-being. And unjust, because the burden of risk falls mostheavily on the poor.We propose a radical shift in the focus of health spending– from treating illness to preventing it. A further 16% ofthe NHS budget should be dedicated to preventing illness,to achieve a total figure of 20% by 2020. This representsan additional 1.6% of the budget each year, and could beachieved by an incremental approach over the next tenyears – small increases at first, accompanied by investmentin research to consolidate the evidence base. A partnershipapproach would be essential, pooling NHS funds with thoseof local government, schools and other relevant agencies inorder that they can work together to address the underlyingsocial and economic determinants of health.’SDC‘The importance and urgency of preventing illness andreducing health inequalities is clearly recognised bygovernment, but it seems we’ve been going backwards. Ina 2007 follow-up report, Wanless found that the number ofpublic health consultants and registrars had actually declinedsince 1997, while there had been an increase of almost 60%in other medical staff numbers. A cross-sectoral approachis strongly supported by the findings of the World HealthOrganisation’s Commission on the Social Determinants ofHealth, and by the emerging findings of the Strategic Reviewof Health Inequalities in England Post 2010 (Marmot Review).It is further endorsed by recent guidance from the NationalInstitute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) on physicalactivity, built and natural environments, and spatial planning.’ Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

Breakthroughs in how we get aroundMaking cycling mainstream12‘ 60% of allcar journeysare under5 milesin length’Transforming our roads and giving people the confidenceand incentive to cycleChris Peck, CTC – the national cyclists’ organisation‘A big push to promote cycling could make the bikethe normal choice for journeys up to five miles. The toppriority is overcoming the risks that put people off. Thatmeans redesigning street layouts with cyclists in mind.It means curbing traffic speed, reducing the volume oftraffic, and investing in high quality cycle lanes or pathson the busiest roads. It means providing every child – andall interested adults – with the training to ensure they cancycle both safely and well. And, going beyond safety issues,promotional campaigns, journey planning advice, cycle-toworkschemes, incentives and facilities for locking up bikesand showering on arrival should encourage everyone toseriously consider making cycling a regular part of their life.Bikes are best in the 1-5 mile range where cars are attheir worst. Yet these short trips currently account for 60%of all UK car journeys. Every trip made by bike instead willcut emissions of greenhouse gases, particulates and otherpollutants. Switching half of them would save up to 5million tonnes of CO 2a year, which is around 4% of domestictransport emissions.This is a quality of life issue too. People will be healthier,happier and better off if they cycle more. Many wouldlove to, but just don’t feel it’s safe. Half the children in theUK would like to cycle to school, surveys say, yet only 2%actually do. By creating a more cycling-friendly environment,and helping them minimise the risks, we’ll get more ofthese would-be cyclists on their bikes. Once kick-started, themomentum of change will create a virtuous circle. The morepeople do it, the greater the awareness of cycling and itsbenefits – and the safer it becomes. In London, where cyclinghas almost doubled in the last 10 years, cyclist casualtieshave actually fallen by one third.‘SDC‘This isn’t a novel idea – but it’s one whose time has come. Atthe very least, we should aim to double cycling levels within10 years. The bicycle is the most efficient and environmentallybenign form of transport ever invented. We know cycling isgood for health – and building regular exercise into everydayroutines is one of the best ways of staying healthy andavoiding obesity. Just as important are the social spin-offs,especially for the young. The young people that we spoke toreally wanted to see a breakthrough on cycling. Instead ofunsustainable car dependence, we look forward to a world inwhich it’s taken for granted that our children can get aroundcheaply and independently – by bike.Look at countries where cycling is more common, andyou find much higher levels of child well-being. It’s notonly the cyclists who benefit. Less car use means less trafficcongestion and better road safety for all. And cycle-friendlyneighbourhoods allow more scope for play and socialinteraction, encouraging better personal behaviour and evencutting crime.’What happens nextImprovements in infrastructure and street design, andthe extension of 20mph speed limits to cover mosturban neighbourhoods, should be backed up by betterenforcement of traffic law, protecting vulnerable road usersfrom injury or intimidation – and by one to one advice ontravel planning for people at critical times such as movinghouse or leaving school or university. Pro-cycling initiativesand cycle training need more funding and support fromlocal authorities, schools and employers. In much of theUK, funding for cycling averages £1 or less per person peryear. Best practice might cost at least five times that, butwould be money well spent, with studies 415 suggesting thateach additional cyclist boosts the economy by between£300 and £600 per year in environmental, health andsocial placesSustainable Development Commission Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century 23

Breakthroughs inthe transition to asustainable, lowcarbon economyIdeas which change themarketplace, the signals aboutprice and value, making moresustainable choices easierand more accessible.24 Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

Transforming the way we manage carbonWe need to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases globallyby at least 80% by 2050. And the developed countries needto make cuts of at least 30% by 2020. An unprecedentedscientific consensus has got us this far. But the politics oftackling climate change still lags far behind the science.The frameworks at the heart of carbon management at aglobal level, such as Kyoto and the EU Emissions TradingScheme (EU ETS), have struggled to make much of an impacton emissions not because they were flawed ideas, butbecause they were undermined by fundamental politicaltensions between the US, EU and developing countries.With Copenhagen approaching, and both the Obamaadministration and China gearing up, a new internationalsettlement on climate change looks possible for 2010. It istherefore a good time to look again at ways of capping andallocating carbon emissions.What’s the single most important thing we can do tocorrect that science-into-policy deficit? Lord Stern was clearon this: ‘get a realistic price on a tonne of CO 2just as fastas possible.’ That won’t be enough on its own, but it’s thebaseline without which everything else is at risk.So how near are we to getting a ‘realistic price’?Substantial volumes of carbon are traded though the EUETS and under the Kyoto Protocol’s flexibility mechanisms.President Obama is vigorously pushing a similar Cap-and-Trade scheme in the US, and other countries are startingto get to grips with what this all means. But ETS permitsto emit CO 2are trading at around €10 a tonne these days.That’s woefully inadequate. US scientist Jim Hansen reckonsit will take $250 a tonne to get emissions down by 80%. Atpresent rates of progress, the concentration of greenhousegases in the atmosphere will be through the 450ppm barrier(the upper limit if we are to have a decent chance of stayingbelow the all-important 2°C average temperature increase)before we get anywhere near Stern’s ‘realistic price’.This kind of realism (not pessimism!) is persuading moreand more people that we’ve got to come up with somethingmuch faster, smarter and fairer than the current Kyotoregime. And some of the brightest thinking on how to tacklethat challenge is going on right here in the UK.Here we present three Breakthroughs: two are new ideasfor a much tougher global regime for allocating and drivingdown carbon emissions. Their approaches differ, but bothbelieve that interventions have to be upstream (at thepoint where carbon-based fuels enter the economy), andglobal (unlike the Kyoto Protocol). And both, significantly,are upbeat – rooted in the idea of getting everyone tofocus on benefits and opportunities. The third idea takesa very different and quite distinct approach – placing theresponsibility for managing carbon with the individual.Understanding the basic principles of carbon allocationsImagine, if you will, that the management of the Earth’satmosphere (including its use as a ‘sink’ for greenhousegases) is shared equally between all the 6.7 billion peoplecurrently living on earth. Then imagine that the world’spoliticians, being serious about tackling climate change,work out the maximum (safe) amount of greenhousegases that can be emitted every year and put those‘entitlements’ up for sale. Energy companies the worldover who wanted to go on using fossil fuels would thenhave to buy those entitlements. The cost would of coursebe passed on to their customers. But here’s the upside: therevenue from those sales (running into trillions of dollars)would come straight back to all 6.7 billion of us, on a strictper capita basis. Bill Gates would get exactly the same‘carbon dividend’ as the poorest citizen in the world’spoorest country.25

Cap and share13sustainable, low carbon economy£Permits£CAPPED ALLOCATIONOF GLOBAL CO 2PERMITSCITIZENSFOSSIL FUEL PRODUCERS£Permits£WIDER ECONOMYCap the carbon and share the income with an innovative,citizen-centred permits schemeNick Bardsley‘This breakthrough, developed by the Foundation forthe Economics of Sustainability, 42 (Feasta), is based oncompelling the producers of fossil fuels to buy permits fortheir greenhouse gas content before they are allowed to sellthe fuel. The permits are purchased from citizens (who eachget an equal share of the revenue). Over time, the numberof permits is reduced, ensuring that their price keeps onrising. If people choose not to sell their permits to the energyproducers, then those tonnes of CO 2are in effect just removedfrom the annual total.Returning the proceeds of the permit sales to the publicon a per capita basis, rather than to the companies or thestate, swings political support behind the idea and alsoaddresses the fuel poverty implications of a rising carbonprice. People leading sufficiently low-carbon lifestyles willbe making more money than they lose through rising prices– an obvious encouragement for investing individual’s carbonrevenues in energy efficiency and renewables. There’s noneed for a complicated and costly system of personal carbonaccounts, since the only thing people do with their permitsis sell them or decide not to, and the only purchasersPermits£Coal, oil and gasEnergy, goods, services all reflecting upstream carbon pricePermitsPermitsPermits for greenhouse gascontent of coal, oil and gassubmitted to auditorsof permits are the relatively small number of fossil fuelproducers.Reducing the number of permits ensures a permanentreduction in fossil fuel supply. This forces energy suppliers todiversify, for example into renewables, or into new businessmodels that aim to help customers manage with less fueland less energy.’SDC‘Natural justice tells us that individual emissions of C0 2must, in the long run, “converge” around the same percapita entitlement. And that means emissions in rich worldcountries must start “contracting” just as soon as possible.In an alternative version, an organisation is set up,independent from the government, which auctions permitsto the fuel companies and rebates the public with therevenues on a per capita basis. This arrangement preventsthe state reclaiming the revenues for other purposes. This isbeing promoted in the United States as “Cap and Dividend”,and was nominated by Newsweek as one of its truly“Transformative Ideas” from 2008.’What happens nextThe scheme has to cover the entire economy, exceptfor those businesses already covered by other schemes.Administrative and commercial systems need to bedevised to run the permit sales. More fundamentally,making the idea work depends on building publicunderstanding, acceptance and support – and gettingthe backing of politicians – as a way of making muchfaster progress on the UK’s new carbon budgets.Plus complementary policies across the EU and widerare needed, to sort out how it can be implementedinternationally. Energy suppliers will have to acceptthe logic of business diversification in the face ofcontinually reduced fossil fuel production – and makea commitment not to fund disruptive lobbying andpublicity Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

Kyoto 214DIRECT REGULATIONCLIMATECHANGESOLUTIONSe.g. Adaptation & clean energy£Permits for greenhouse gascontent of coal, oil and gassubmitted to auditorsCAPPED AUCTIONOF GLOBAL CO 2PERMITSFOSSIL FUEL PRODUCERSWIDER ECONOMYTackling climate change with a global carbon price onfossil fuelsOliver Tickell‘The existing Kyoto Protocol has failed to deliver the intendedcuts in greenhouse gas emissions. One reason is that it’snational emissions allocations and targets don’t make sensein the context of the global economy. So, Kyoto2 proposesa new approach. It starts by defining a global cap onemissions. It would then control emissions ‘upstream’, at orclose to where fossil fuels are produced.Emission “permits” up to the cap are sold in an openworldwide auction, subject to a reserve price to provide along-term signal for investment. Fossil fuel companies haveto obtain and surrender permits relating to their production,before their fuel can enter the economy. The proceeds fromthe auction are invested in climate change solutions: toconserve and enhance natural carbon sinks, to develop anddeploy renewable energy, to raise energy efficiency, and tofinance adaptation. Special emphasis is placed on the needsof poor people, poor countries, and those most vulnerable toclimate change impacts.££PermitsCoal, oil and gasEnergy, goods, services all reflecting upstream carbon priceThis main mechanism is supplemented by direct regulationaimed at reaching into sectors only weakly influenced bycarbon price alone, such as the energy efficiency of goods.The entire process is kick-started by an infusion of funds fromrich countries, reflecting their historic responsibilities.’SDC‘At the heart of this is the recognition that markets canbe inefficient. They are subject to specific failures (pricevolatility and speculation, for instance), and even themost powerful market signals may impact only weakly onbehaviour change. And at the moment, if coal is burned inChina to produce goods consumed in Europe, the associatedemissions are accounted to China. It makes far more sense toaccount for them at the point of consumption.This idea supplements market mechanisms withdirect regulation, aimed at overcoming market failuresand reducing waste. Funds raised through Kyoto2 permitauctions, amounting to at least $1 trillion per year (roughly1.5% of the global economy), would be invested both inmitigating climate change (by supporting renewable energy,energy efficiency and so on) and adapting to its anticipatedand unavoidable effects in areas ranging from biodiversity tomeeting additional healthcare needs and emergency relieffrom climate-related disasters.’What happens nextThere is already a broad base of support for this idea,and there is now work going on to turn this intoa more organised body of support. While a rangeof international institutions will have roles to play,individual governments will need to adopt the idea inorder to argue for wider support at the forthcominginternational climate talks in Copenhagen in December2009.Contactoliver.tickell@kyoto2.orgwww.kyoto2.orgsustainable, low carbon economySustainable Development Commission Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century 27

Personal carbon budgets15sustainable, low carbon economyPolicy toolPersonal Carbon BudgetsDrivers ofbehaviour changeEconomic behaviourHigher price of energyCarbon perceptionAwareness of personalcarbon footprintSocial normsNew attitudes topersonal impacts onclimate changePolicy targetEnergyDemandReductionIndividuals and communities taking responsibility forreducing emission of CO 2through personal carbon budgetsNick Eyre, Environmental Change Institute, Universityof Oxford‘Reducing emissions of CO 2is not just a matter for governmentand business. The idea behind personal carbon budgets is tomake it relevant to the individual level. Currently, in “cap andtrade” schemes such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme,energy use by companies is the subject of carbon emissionquotas. In the same way, each of us could be given directaccountability for our own household and transport energyuse. The fairest way of doing it would be for everyone tobe allocated an equal-sized annual allowance. As this “cap”reduces progressively year-on-year, it helps drive down theUK’s overall carbon emissions – about half of which come frompersonal energy use.A personal carbon budget will quite literally “bring home”the whole concept of cutting emissions. Each individual willhave clear rights and responsibilities, and new motivation tolive a low carbon life. Those who manage to live within theirbudget in a given year will have some spare quota to sell.Those who don’t will have to buy from the scheme to covertheir excess. People will think very differently about climateEmissions Reductionchange, focusing on what they can do by their own choices.At present, they may well be concerned, but often aren’ttaking major action because they see it as the Government’sresponsibility. We also believe that personal carbon budgetsshould include personal transport.‘SDC‘The UK has the opportunity to lead the way on personalcarbon budgeting. It’s an idea with great potential toreduce carbon emissions over the long term, by stimulatingindividual action in a clear and direct way. It should betransparent, demonstrably fair, and socially just. Much of theearly thinking has been done in this country, and there is aclear fit with our national budgeting approach, as laid out inthe Climate Change Act. This particular idea is good becauseit starts with personal travel and energy, rather than trying todo everything all at once.’What happens nextPersonal carbon budgets are currently at the conceptstage – developed in various forms over the lastten years, but with details still to be worked out.Turning this essentially simple idea into a firm policyproposal won’t be easy. It will require leadership andownership by the Government and policy community,and a commitment to research, develop and test suchcrucial aspects as IT systems, enforcement procedures,and wider income distribution effects. The ultimatesuccess of a fully-fledged scheme will depend hugelyon the effective management of its costs and sheerorganisational complexity, covering millions of people’sindividual transactions. It will also depend, of course, onpublic reaction. Knowledge of personal carbon footprintsis currently very limited, and, whatever they say infocus groups and opinion polls, it’s still difficult to gaugehow people will actually respond to living with personalcarbon Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

Fair Shares, Fair ChoiceAn example scheme, Fair Shares, Fair Choice (FSFC), iscurrently being piloted by Sustainability South West, theregion’s independent champion body for sustainabledevelopment.To date, over 1300 people have signed up at including not only climate changeexperts and sustainability champions, but also organisationssuch as the TUC, local councils, businesses and MPs fromall the main parties along with individual supporters. Eachthereby endorses the principle of ‘a globally fair and climatesafe carbon share for everyone’, calculated annually in a waythat takes into account the differing needs of developing anddeveloped nations.The scheme is not prescriptive but aims to help peopleunderstand that each of their lifestyle choices have adifferent ‘carbon price’ and that adopting a low carbonlifestyle would drive a low carbon economic recovery andsupport personal well being – particularly if the Governmentnow chose to invest in low carbon infrastructure to enablepeople to take low carbon options. The emissions ceilingthey must try to live within, through their energy, travel andshopping choices, is 3.92 tonnes of CO 2in 2009 – falling to3.2 tonnes by 2017.The website itself features the new 2009 personal carbonbudget, a short film exploring the idea of personal carbonallowances with the public and students, answers questionsabout personal carbon allowances, provides advice andsignposting for low carbon living and working, has storiesshared by FSFC supporters, and lists its supporters.www.fairsharesfairchoice.comsustainable, low carbon economySustainable Development Commission Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century 29

Getting more from our moneyGreen bonds16sustainable, low carbon economyBONDHOLDERS££ + dividendsGOVERNMENTFinancing the transition to a low-carbon economy throughindividual investmentsIngrid Holmes and James Cameron, Climate Change Capital‘Green Bonds are designed to raise capital for energyefficiency projects, and low or zero carbon energygeneration. They’ll be issued by the Government for salethrough the usual bond market routes. Funds raised throughthe bond could be managed by a new government-backedGreen Investment Bank, in which case the Bank would coinvestalongside the private sector. Alternatively, existingbanks would be allowed to bid for capital to invest insuitable projects. Green Bonds should be an attractiveproposition, with returns linked to revenues from theinvestments, but with the Government acting as guarantor.One version, sold to institutions and likely to raise the bulkof the capital, will have a maturity of at least 15 years and(probably) a fixed interest rate. The “retail” version forindividual investors will have a shorter timeframe of aroundfive years, and pay interest in line with current market rates.It helps finance the move to a low carbon economy – andthus reduce the chances of catastrophic climate change.The investment needed to meet the UK’s carbon-cuttingcommitments runs into hundreds of billions of pounds. Theprivate sector is very unlikely to be able to provide all ofthis, since the financial crisis has reduced the amount of debtcapital available, and the current policy landscape still leavesso many uncertainties. However, government cannot affordto fill the gap out of general taxation and borrowing: it isalready hitting the limits, with spending cuts predicted forfuture years. Green Bonds are a way of squaring this circle.There’s some good evidence that they’ll attractinstitutional investors, even those who don’t want tobuy any more ordinary government bonds. This is partlybecause they are not there simply to fill a gap caused by theLoanRepaid loan + interestINVESTORSANDHOUSEHOLDERSInvestmentdownturn: they create assets with secure and distinct futurerevenue streams. What’s more, they will work to limit therisk of the investment they finance. Most of the uncertaintyabout future revenues from carbon-cutting is uncertaintyabout future policy – and if government is guaranteeing thebond coupon, then it is much more likely to provide policiesthat give business the certainty it needs. Future governmentsare, in effect, locked in.’SDC‘Just as “Tell Sid” and the other public share issue campaignsof the 1980s helped convert ordinary citizens to participatingin the privatisation of services, Green Bonds could engagethe public in the process of tackling climate change. Since theprojects they put their money into will also be helping them(and other people) save energy and money, they’ll have adirect positive stake as both investors and consumers.’What happens nextThe aim is to get Green Bonds into the 2011 budget.There will be quiet lobbying over the course of the nextyear, and a more public campaign starting in spring2010 involving a coalition of prominent organisationsand individuals. It will need to overcome the potentialreluctance of the Treasury to ring-fence the proceeds,and any fears that it might cannibalise traditionalgovernment bond (gilt) issues.Contactjcameron@c-c-capital.comdleitner@c-c-capital.comwww.climatechangecapital.comSavings + profitsLOWCARBONPROJECTS30 Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

The Royal Bank of Sustainability (RBS)17Using the public stake in the Royal Bank of Scotland tocreate a bank to support the transition to a sustainable,low-carbon economyKevin Smith, Mel Evans & James Marriott, PLATFORM‘This idea amounts to making lemonade out of lemons– taking a bitter situation and making something sweet outof it. First, it capitalises on the current economic crisis, andspecifically on the fact that 90% of Royal Bank of Scotland isnow owned by the state. Second, it converts the British bankmost closely associated with the oil and gas industry, andwith the worst record in coal finance, into one that invests tohalt the effects of climate change. Using the capital, physicalassets and human resources of a transformed Royal Bank ofScotland (renamed the Royal Bank of Sustainability), it createsa new and innovative bank that will provide finance for:• achieving a step-change in the scale of renewable energyprojects• establishing a comprehensive sustainable transport system• transforming the UK housing stock with a dramatic upgradein energy efficiency• weaning companies and institutions off their dependenceon the fossil fuel industry.The scope of what we propose is unprecedented – and thatlevel of ambition is also what makes it so exciting. Whereassimilar initiatives, such as Friends of the Earth’s GreenInvestment Bank, require building a banking institutionfrom the ground up, the Royal Bank of Sustainability hasthe power to drive the transition to a low-carbon economyby leading current banking investments away from highcarbon sectors, starving them of funding, and making largeinvestments in the zero-carbon sector instead. So, ratherthan creating a new green bank (as has also been suggestedin the United States 43 to finance government purchases ofrenewable energy), RBS will send a strong signal to theexisting investment community. This can provide a model forother institutional investors and governments alike – fulfillingthe UK’s true responsibility for international leadership asone of the world’s largest financial hubs.’SDC‘This initiative addresses both our economic crisis and oururgent need to tackle climate change. The general public isaware and watching the action on both fronts, with a keen eyeon the evolution of the financial industry. A dramatic change inthe Royal Bank of Scotland, such as this idea proposes, mightcreate a multiplier effect as it opens up more opportunities. Itcould also serve as the government backing to support GreenBonds (see page 30), and provide a pivotal opportunity for localinvestment to help stimulate a truly sustainable labour market(see page 32). At the micro-level, local RBS branch investmentscould fund the insulation of individuals’ homes, or provide loansfor low-carbon community initiatives, such as a communityownedwind turbine.’What happens nextFor this initiative to work, it is essential that theGovernment takes a ‘hands on’ approach to itsinvestment in RBS, rather than preferring to remain atarm’s length.There must be a clear separation between theRoyal Bank of Scotland’s ‘toxic assets’ and the newdirection taken by the bank. Risks come with anyfinancial investment, especially in new technologiesthat are littered with unknowns, but the Royal Bankof Sustainability’s purpose is to take these risks in theright direction.By combining the higher state-level with localinitiatives, RBS will have the advantage of tacklingthe economic and climate crises from multiple angles.Support already expressed in dialogue with a varietyof stakeholders, parliamentary Select Committees andthe Environmental Audit Committee, is just the start.Contactkevin@platformlondon.orgjames@platformlondon.orgmel@platformlondon.orgwww.platformlondon.orgsustainable, low carbon economySustainable Development Commission Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century 31

Breakthroughs in connecting work to asustainable economyGreen Inc. – a truly sustainable labour market18sustainable, low carbon economyShaping jobs and skills around the needs of a sustainable,low-carbon communityGraham Duxbury, Groundwork‘Green Inc. is about generating a concerted drive to putpublic money to work in deprived areas. By focusing onthe type of functions a low-carbon, sustainable communityneeds, lots of “green” and socially useful paid employmentcan be created, of the kind that will give positive meaningto people’s lives. It’s a way of using government investmentsimultaneously to rebuild the economy and put it on asustainable low-carbon path. There’s plenty of work to bedone – on everything from retrofitting energy efficiencyimprovements in existing homes, to ensuring we have safe,healthy and low-carbon food supplies. Rather than waitingfor tomorrow’s technology – for instance, the prospect ofphotovoltaic cells getting better – Green Inc. is about usingwhat we’ve got right now.This idea is not just about creating another schemefor those who are unemployed. It is about giving peoplethe opportunity to be in the vanguard of a post-industrialrevolution, building a strong connection between the jobsthey do and the challenges posed by climate change. It isgood for people, good for engagement and inclusion, goodfor deprived areas – and good for the economy.It addresses problems of unemployment, poverty, lowself-esteem and community cohesion, while meetingthe need to develop a competent workforce for a rangeof purposes that require large amounts of labour. Jobsthat we fund in the third sector now, for instance, canfocus on creating the very demand that will turn theminto tomorrow’s employment opportunities, in new andexpanding businesses and social enterprises.This is future-casting. It involves creating policy on theback of predicted challenges. There is no safety in failingto respond: it is far better to invest in working towardsinnovative solutions. We know that the major retrofitting ofdomestic homes and public buildings, for example, is vitalfor both climate change adaptation and mitigation.’SDC‘It is vital that the UK’s ambitious goals for tackling climatechange are matched by our seriousness about restructuringthe economy. This breakthrough helps respond to therecession by creating jobs which can bring a sense of prideto everyone. Meaningful paid work has an enormouslypositive impact on health and well-being. It affects not justindividual workers, but their whole families and their localcommunities. The legacy of improved self-esteem will beseen not just in this generation but the next one too.’What happens nextIt will take more than the Chancellor’s recentlyannounced‘£1 billion Future Jobs Fund’ to measureup to the need for real and worthwhile job creationin deprived areas. Regional Development Agencies,if they’re to be the main levers of change, needto measure their success in terms of meeting theirsustainable development goals, not purely in GDPgrowth. Local authorities must be brought on board, asmust trade unions, and the private contractors involvedin the flexible New Deal, who need jobs to place theirclients in. Strong leadership and support can alsoencourage traditional businesses to play their part – solong as the programmes really do stimulate demandfor goods and services, and help ensure the futureavailability of people with the right skills in the rightsectors to meet Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

Breakthroughs in technologyEuropean Marine Energy Centre in OrkneyWe’d be daft to pin our hopes on finding some kind oftechnological ‘silver bullet’ solution for the challengeswe face, but technology does have a vital role to play.Breakthroughs in technology will form an essential part ofmany of the ideas we’ve highlighted in this document.For the SDC, Breakthroughs in the field of technology areas much about how to scale up innovations and bring themto market – so we can unlock their potential to transformthe way we do things for the better – as they are about theideas themselves. The UK will only succeed in this if we‘get it right’ at every stage, from creating the climate forinnovation, through to research and development, supportand market development.We haven’t always done that. Alan Moore, Co-Chairmanof the Renewables Advisory Board, is keenly aware howour ‘excellent record of invention and early technologicaldevelopment’, supported by government and privatefunding, has been let down in the past by our ‘less goodrecord for extracting full value from this early work’. On windturbine manufacture, for example, when the commercialmarket opened up, the Danes overtook us and becamedominant global players, thanks to their Government’sstimulation of a strong home market. So when Ed Miliband’sRenewable Energy Strategy comes out this summer, Mooresays, look closely at how it tackles five key issues:• strong leadership and commitment from government(current and future) which instils confidence in investors• a stable market mechanism for both proven anddeveloping technologies• a steady, high volume market which encouragesmanufacturing and jobs• a swift, predictable consenting process• continuing research support for innovative technologies.Investment is critical – and one can hardly underestimate theimportance of the Government’s role in this. The recentlylaunchedstrategy document Building Britain’s Future: NewIndustry, New Jobs 44 does recognise that creating a thrivinglow-carbon economy will involve putting some seriousmoney into technology development, infrastructure andsupply chains. And there were some steps in the 2009Budget to back this up – more funds for test facilities forwind, wave and tidal power prototypes, for instance, anda new funding mechanism for Carbon Capture and Storageprojects, plus a boost for ultra-low-carbon vehicles.We still need more stimulus action – and fast. Theopportunity is there to be seized, to tackle the financial crisisand climate challenges together, and put the UK at theforefront of the new low-carbon industrial economy. Withthe environmental and low-carbon sector already worth £3trillion globally, and rising, industry is ready to respond.Interestingly, there were only a handful of technologicalBreakthrough ideas submitted to the SDC. We have chosento showcase one that we feel could have real potential:algae carbon capture and sequestration. But we knowfrom the work we do as the SDC, and through the work ofother organisations, public and private, that there is a hugeamount of activity on technology in the UK and elsewhere.We wanted to highlight three initiatives from other UKorganisations geared to stimulating that kind of innovation(see box overleaf).sustainable, low carbon economySustainable Development Commission Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century 33

sustainable, low carbon economyStimulating InnovationRenewable Energy Development Project, International winner 2008.Pupils from Caoduo school in Yushu with the solar module that bringsaffordable solar lighting to rural Tibet.The Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy, set up in2001 by Sarah Butler-Sloss, have become an internationallyrecognised yardstick for excellence in the field of sustainableenergy. The Awards celebrate and reward visionarychampions who are finding solutions to climate change thatalso bring real social and economic benefits to their localcommunities. More than 100 projects have benefited fromprize money, but it is the ongoing relationships and sharingof ideas, experience and technologies between winners andfurther afield that has the continuing impact on structuringa low-carbon future. Across the UK and the developingworld, the Award winners provide inspirational examplesof simple, practical ways to cut CO 2emissions while alsoimproving quality of life. Whether harnessing technology,energy efficiency or renewable sources such as solar, wind orbiomass, they’re all beacons that encourage others to takethe sustainable energy path.The Big Green Challengefrom NESTA (the NationalEndowment for Science,Technology and the Arts),is a two-year project witha £1 million prize fund.Launched in October 2007,it encourages people to worktogether in their communitieson cutting their CO 2emissionsin innovative ways which can be sustained and replicatedmore widely. This year is about putting ten Finalistapproaches into practice, with NESTA providing adviceand £20,000 in funding for each project. Winners will beannounced in early 2010. The Challenge is one of severalexperimental, high-impact projects developed by NESTAas it builds a body of evidence on encouraging, supportingand stimulating innovation around the UK.The Climate Challenge,a competition run by theFinancial Times, Forum forthe Future and HewlettPackard, picked the ‘KyotoBox’ – a cheap, solar-poweredcardboard cooker for use inrural Africa – as the winner ofThe Kyoto Boxits 2008/9 prize of $75,000for the most innovativesolution to the effects of climate change. The Kyoto Boxaims to halve firewood use, thus reducing deforestationand carbon emissions. Its simple design was a large partof the attraction. It can be made in existing cardboardfactories, it comes flat-packed for easy distribution, and ithas just gone into production in a Nairobi factory that canproduce 2.5 million a month. ‘There are too few peoplelooking at simple research,’ says its inventor, Jon Bøhmer.‘We need the basic stuff too.’ 4534 Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

Algae carbon capture and sequestration– the ‘short carbon cycle’19To AlgaeBioreactorHeatPowerVehiclesWasteSewageFood WasteBrewing and DistilleryWasteBio Diesel andBio Ethanol WasteHydrogen orMethaneWasteMethaneFossil FuelPowerStationAnaerobicDigestion UnitCompostCO 2and flue gasCO 2 and nutrientsWaterrecycledDepletedPlant Mattero 2OxygenAlgaeBioreactorUsing algae to capture industrial carbon and sequester itthrough agricultural engineeringLandPeter Head, Arup‘This breakthrough proposes a positive solution to one ofthe world’s most pressing energy problems: dealing withthe CO 2given off by coal-fired power stations (and otherindustrial burning of fossil fuels). The idea is to use fastgrowingalgae to mop it up in situ, once it has been capturedwithin the pre- or post-combustion process. Rather thanpiping or transporting it to underground sites for indefinitestorage, as proposed by most advocates of Carbon Captureand Storage (CCS), CO 2is passed through a collection ofbioreactors in which light, nutrients and seawater encouragedifferent types of algae to grow quickly and absorb thecarbon. The algae could be used to produce a range ofproducts, including oils, pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs. Theresidual biomass after extraction can be put together withorganic waste collected and brought in from local cities, tofeed on-site anaerobic digesters that produce both methaneand compost. Nutrients, C0 2and water from the digestersare recycled in the process. The oxygen (and in some caseshydrogen) which this releases could have commercial uses.This innovative approach simultaneously helps tackleboth climate change and declining food production. Thisidea first germinated in efforts to combine Arup’s work oncarbon capture with its research into food technologies for theDongtan eco-city project and has been further developed withthe UK Centre for Process Innovation (CPI). The “short carboncycle” goes from fossil fuel emissions via algal biomass tobiofuel and plant-growth-promoting compost.LightBio ProcessingExtractionOils Food PharmaceuticalsNeutraceuticals HydrogenAlkane, Alkene or AlkyneCrucially, this approach creates revenue streams for powerstation and process plant operators to offset the costs ofcarbon capture. So it should be more appealing to them thanCCS – which will also typically incur extra costs for taking theproblematic emissions away and locking them up. The energybalance in the process uses waste heat from the powerstation, energy from the other wastes, locally gathered solarenergy, and energy recycled from the digesters.The technology is modular and could be deployed quicklyon any scale if successfully proven. It could really helpdeveloping countries to address CO 2emission targets, whilelifting food productivity. The algae types can be changedto enable products to be tailored to suit local needs. Usinganaerobic digesters, which link in with systems for managingurban waste (bringing further inputs and providing energy) aswell as agriculture (taking the composted output), will helpcreate jobs in urban and rural locations. Revenue from sales ofcompost and other products, together with carbon credits forthe CO 2sequestration, will help support the business case forinvestment to meet carbon cap requirements.’SDC‘There’s some classic sustainability thinking at the core ofthis idea: never stop looking for opportunities within yourproblems. It also avoids the intergenerational equity issueswhich must arise with any process involving perpetual wastestorage, even of CO 2. And growing algae in bioreactors doesnot raise the same “land take” problems as projects for vastalgal lagoons to sequester carbon.’What happens nextA fully funded and rapid research and developmentprogramme will be needed to move the conceptfrom small-scale testing into practice at large scale.There’s also work to be done on how whole city wastemanagement systems can best be integrated – and onusing power station fuel supply lines to bring compostout from the digesters too. The roll-out will be a greatchallenge for the process development and constructionindustries. Government and business, working together,must show leadership, ownership and commitment toattract investment and build technological capability.And, obviously, government must ensure that new rulesand regulations on carbon capture embrace these biosequestrationalternative approaches.ContactPeter.head@arup.comGraham.Hillier@uk-cpi.comsustainable, low carbon economySustainable Development Commission Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century 35

Making it happenThere’s little point in having great ideas if nothing changesas a result. That’s why we went back and challenged thechampions of the selected ideas to think about what it wouldtake to turn them into reality.As you’ve seen, they identified a varying range of ‘needs’.There’s no one set path or magic recipe: mainstreaming eachbreakthrough will have different determining conditionsand require a particular set of barriers to be overcome. Butthere are common themes – and what they told us mirroredour own research on what makes breakthroughs happen 46 .Financing looms large. So does leadership, ownership andcommitment. Working in partnership is frequently cited too.For some of the showcased ideas, the ones at an earlystage, we see a need for further research – and backingto get it done. Others, already more advanced, are nowat the stage where they need to build critical mass, getmore people on board, and be supported and reinforced bychanges in policy.The solutions aren’t always proven. New technologies arealways on the horizon. But there’s a powerful sense that itcan’t be right for government to wait until such time as allthe answers might be in. Too often there is a long lag periodfrom when an idea is first mooted to it becoming a reality.Given the scale and speed of transformation needed in oursociety, the time traditionally taken between the genesisof an idea and its deployment at scale must be radicallyshortened. As a nation, we have to get better at this.This project has identified something else, too, thatgives food for thought; there is no one space, or central‘hub’, where good ideas are coming together to be sharedand embraced.One thing is certain, though. It’s time to get seriousabout implementation. We need to pin down what stepsare needed to progress these ideas. We want to securecommitment for taking those crucial steps – as well as toidentify where the UK can make simple (and not so simple)wins, to enable and support more innovative thinking forthe future.As for the SDC, as the Government’s independent advisor,we will be seeking out opportunities for progressing theseideas through our own work, and through the advice we giveto government departments across the UK, and will continueto promote the urgent need for breakthrough thinking inthe UK.3Natural values: Outdoor experiencesDevelopmentof ideaBody ofsupportPolicy levers:Some significantpolicies alreadyin placePolicy levers:Changes ineducation policySkills andtraining:Teacher training,standards,continuedprofessionaldevelopmentAwareness:Greater recognitionof the value ofinteraction withnature; overcomingperceived risksPartnerships:Connecting theresearch & policycommunities;agreementof formal‘entitlement’9From ‘pre-pay’ to ‘pay as you save’Developmentof ideaBody ofsupportFurtherresearch /development:Best routes fordeliveryPolicylevers:Changes tothe supplierobligationLeadership& ownership:Policy communitybacking &promotionFinance:Public &PrivateSkills andtraining:Need pool ofskilled labourDemand:Uptake fromhouseholds12Making cycling mainstreamDevelopmentof ideaBody ofsupportAwareness:Overcomingperceived risksand promotingbenefitsInfrastructurechanges: Betterstreet design,reduced trafficspeeds/volumesFinance:GovernmentfundingprogrammeLeadershipand ownership:Serious politicalcommitmentDemand:Make it easy– promotions,advice, facilitiesWHERE WE ARENEEDS36 Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

List of Breakthrough ideas contributorsDavid Adams (KnaufInsulation)Benjamin AgbasiAnthony AlexanderKathryn AlfordSteve Anstice (Environmental Strategies Ltd)John ArnellNick BardsleyJohn BarryMalcolm BartonPaul BaruyaSandra BayesSeb Beloe (Henderson Global Investors)Sheila BerridgeErik Bichard (Salford University)Mia BirdRichard Blundel (BRESE, Brunel University)Brenda Boardman (Lower Carbon Futures,Environmental Change Institute, Universityof Oxford)Richard BondGregory Borne (South West Life-LongLearning Network)Phillip BratbyMichael BrightAlan Brown (Linlithgow Climate Challenge)Keith Budden (Be BirminghamEnvironmental Partnership)Carlos Burgos (Pedro Achata Trust)Nick ByrneJohn Canton (Institution of Civil EngineersEast of England)Jon Cape (Renew)Steve Carney (Origin Energy CIC)Ian Cheshire (Kingfisher)Kate Clifford (The Rural College)Prof Mick Common (David LivingstoneCentre for Sustainability, University ofStrathclyde)Jill CooperAnna Coote (NEF, SDC Commissioner)Lindsey Colbourne (SDC Commissioner)Jon Cracknell (Environmental FundersNetwork)Vic CrispLouise Crompton/Anne-Marie Shields (SDC)Liz Crosbie (Strategic EnvironmentalConsulting Ltd)Andrew CurryDonald CurtisKath Dalmeny (Sustain: the alliance forbetter food and farming)Ian Davenport (NATS Ltd)Maurice DaviesMarc DeBloisJohn Dembovskis (Aequalitas Ltd)Prof Andrew Dobson (Keele University)Mike Duckett (Royal Brompton Hospital)Chris DunabinPeter Duncan (Gale production/Scouts)Samuel During (Project & DevelopmentConsultants (PDC) Ltd)Joyce Edmond-SmithWilliam Edrich (Kirklees Energy Services)Pete Eggleston (The Green Party)Paul Ekins (Kings College London/GreenFiscal Commission)David Elliott (Open University)Phil EvansProf Stephen Evans (Cranfield University)Nick Eyre (Environmental Change Institute,University of Oxford)Stephen FarrantMark Felton (Natural England)Ann Finlayson (SEEd, SDC Commissioner)Sue Flack (MRC McLean Hazel)Erica FlintJulie Foley (Environment Agency)Nick Gardner (Project Dirt)Christina GaridiSteve Garrett (Riverside Community MarketAssociation)Neil Gavin (University of Liverpool)Jetske Germing (PLANED)Gordon GibsonPeter GlassDebbie GosmanLiz Gray (Sheffield Community Renewables)James Greyson (Blindspot)Martin Harper (RSPB)Tony Hawkhead/Graham Duxbury(Groundwork UK)Rebecca Hawkins (CESHI Ltd)Heather Haydock (AEA)Peter Head (Arup)Richard HeathcoteMayer Hillman (Policy Studies Institute)Prof John Hills (Centre for Analysis of SocialExclusion, London School of Economics)Sue Holden (Woodland Trust)Rob Holdway (Giraffe Innovation Limited)Ingrid Holmes/James Cameron (ClimateChange Capital)Helen Holroyd (Supreme Master Television)William Houstoun (Society for theEnvironment)Andrew HowesDave Hughes (Environment Agency)David Hughes (BERR)Nigel Hughes (Green Light Trust)Hamish IronsideKirsty Ivanoski (Local GovernmentAssociation)Andrew Jeffrey (South Yorkshire HealthAuthority)Kate Jeffreys (Geckoella EnvironmentalConsultants PVT Ltd)Chris Jofeh (Arup)Ian Jones (Cornwall Centre for Volunteers)Peter JonesTony JuniperPeter Karran (Fujitsu Services)Tim Kasser ( Knox College)Duncan Kay (SDC)James KellyMary KellyIrene Kempton (Armagh City and DistrictCouncil)Neil Kermode (European Marine EnergyCentre)Prof Julia King (Aston University)Michele KingstonEllie KivinenProf Richard Layard (LSE)Richard Leafe (Lake District National ParkAuthority)Tim Lenton (University of East Anglia)Derek Likorish (Lickorish Consulting)Anita Longley (RWE npower)Maria-Pilar Machancoses (Centro)David MackieIan Marchant (Scottish and SouthernEnergy)James Marriott (PLATFORM)Dr Stephen Martin/Maureen MartinGuy MartinRichard MassonCatherine Max (Trustee, Equinoxcare)Sustainable Development Commission Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century 37

Prof Lord Robert May (House of Lords/University of Oxford)John Mayher (Scottish Environment Link)Nick Mayhew (Oikos)Caroline MaynardEd Mayo (Consumer Focus)AJ McConville (SDC)Peter McMannersBryan Metcalfe (TANDBERG)Clive MitchellAlice MoncasterAlan Moore (Renewables Advisory Board)David MorrisRoger MosesStan MowatJohn NielsenNick Nielsen (Envision)Jo Nurse (Department of Health)Prof. Avner Offer (University of Oxford)Helen OgilvySusan OrganPaul Ormerod (Volterra)Paul OsborneDuncan Oswald (Ecodyn Limited)Jennifer OtoadeseGary Pass (Basker Leitch)Ken Peattie (BRASS, Cardiff University)Chris Peck (CTC – The National Cyclists’Organisation)David Pencheon (NHS SustainableDevelopment Unit for England)Pat PicaAnne Power (LSE, SDC Commissioner)Robert Pringle (Sustech Ltd)Eric PritchardJolanda PutriGavan RaffertyJane RafteryKaren Raven (Places for People)Joe Ravetz (Centre for Urban & RegionalEcology, University of Manchester)/StuartBond (WWF-UK)Dr Kate Rawles/Dr Chris Loynes (Universityof Cumbria)James ReaMike Reardon (Manchester City Council)Shivani Reddy/Denny Gray/Alice Williams(SDC)Ben Rhodes (SDC)Iain RichardsSue Riddlestone (BioRegional)Philip RobertsProf Ian Roberts (London School of Hygieneand Tropical Medicine)John RobottomJane Rochelle (Connaught Partnerships)Chris Rose (Campaign Strategy Ltd)William Ross (Linlithgow Climate Change)Chris RowlandsPatricia SandersonDr Phyllis SantaMaria (Microfinance withoutBorders)Rachel SargeantPhilip SargentRupa SarkarJamie SaundersGraham ScottCharles SeafordAndy SeeneyPenny Shepherd (UKSIF)Robert SiddallDavid Sigsworth (SEPA)Jonathan SilverMike Small (Centre for Stewardship)Adrian Smith (SPRU)Pam Smith (IGD)Tom SmithJuliet SolomonProf Kate Soper (ISET London MetropolitanUniversity)Kevin SoulsbyElizabeth SparkFreer Spreckley (Golden Valley EnvironmentGroup)Dave Stanley (e3)Stuart StapelyIan Stephenson (Johnson Matthey plc)John Stewart (HACAN)Ed Straw (Demos)Kate Swatridge (Food Up Front)Matthew Taylor/Steve Broome (RSA)Matthew Taylor MPAlex Templeton (The Farm Energy Project)Denise ThomasOliver Tickell (Freelance/Guardian)Nick Timms (Barnes Construction)Joanne Tippett (University of Manchester)Cris Tomas (Carmarthenshire Association ofVoluntary Services)Jon TownleySolitaire Townsend (Futerra SustainabilityCommunications Ltd)Pam Warhurst/Fred Hunt (Incredible EdibleTodmorden)Peter WaughDebby WellerNorman WheatleyDebbie Whitaker (Standard CharteredBank)Mark Whitby (Ramboll Whitbybird)William WhiteCaroline Wickham-JonesDr Christopher Wiliams (University ofGlasgow)Dr Will Williams (Natural EconomyNorthwest)Gage Williams (Renewable Energy Officefor Cornwall)Peter WillsAngus WillsonJonathan Wilson (Earthscan)Kath WinnardProf John Wood (Goldsmiths University ofLondon)Tom WoodNicki Woodhead (Vodafone UK)Jane Woolmer (Twcross House School)Tony Wray (Severn Trent Water Ltd)Martin Wright/Peter Fraenkel (MarineCurrent Turbines Ltd)Dr Einer Young (Welsh Institute for NaturalResources, Bangor University)38 Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

References1. Speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Centerfor Scholars in Washington. 14 May http://intranet/news/2009/defra-0515.asp2. The response of civil society to climate change: NewEconomics Foundation, 20083. Lindsey Colbourne (2008) Sustainable Development andResilience: A think piece for the SDC4. From a poll undertaken for the BBC by GfK NOP duringOctober 2005. Results available at: DWP data quoted by Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Defra (2008) Sustainable Development in Your Pocket7. ONS (Oct 2008)8. Department of Health (2007) Tackling healthinequalities: 2004-06 data and policy update for the2010 national target9. ONS (2006)10. SDC (2008) Health, place and nature11. Child Poverty Action Group (Spring 2009) Child wellbeingand child poverty: Where the UK stands in the Europeantable12. Defra (2008) Sustainable Development in Your Pocket13. Defra (2008) Sustainable Development in Your Pocket14. Sustrans (2007) The National Cycle Network: Route UserMonitoring Report15. Home Office (2008) Crime in England & Wales. 2007/0816. UK Green Buildings Council (2008) Low Carbon ExistingHomes17. BERR (2008) the UK Fuel Poverty Strategy: 6thAssessment18. Energy Action Scotland (March 2008) Estimate of fuelpoor households19. For example Consumer Focus and Friends of the Earth,200920. SDC (2008) Health, place and nature21. Defra (2008) Sustainable Development in Your Pocket22. Play England (2008) Playday Survey23. Environmental Audit Committee (2008) ThirteenthReport24. United Nations Environment Programme, October 200825. Global Footprint Network (2008) Ecological FootprintAtlas26. Defra (2008) Sustainable Development in Your Pocket27. HM Government (2007) Energy White Paper28. Defra (2008) Sustainable Development in Your Pocket29. www.greenvoice.com31. www.low.communitycarbon.net37. www.projectdirt.com38. Wanless, D (2002) Securing Our Future Health: Takinga Long-Term View. Based on 2006/7 figures Preventing chronic diseases: a vital investment. WHO, SQW Consulting (2008) Planning for cycling, Report toCycling England42. www.feasta.org43. HM Government (April 2009) Building Britain’s Future:New Industry, New Jobs45. Financial Times, 8 April 200946. See Development Commission Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century 39

We are gratefulto the followingorganisations forsupporting theBreakthroughs eventon 1st July 2009.The Carbon Trust’s mission is to acceleratethe move to a low carbon economy,by working with organisations to reducecarbon emissions now and developcommercial low carbon technologies forthe future.Wessex Water congratulates The SustainableDevelopment Commission for its leadershipin developing the understanding andapplication of sustainability principles inbusiness and regulation, a role of real andfuture value to the UK.Left unchecked, climate change is thegreatest threat we face, and has thepotential to wreck livelihood’s andecosystems. The Co-operative is recognisedas a leader in the fight against climatechange; we’re working hard to reduce ouremissions, help communities to reducetheirs, and campaigning to get the rightlaws in place to speed up the transition toa low carbon economy.NESTA (National Endowment for Science,Technology and the Arts) is an independentbody with a mission to make the UK moreinnovative. We are a leading authorityon how to grow new ideas and stimulateimaginative solutions to pressing socialchallenges.WRAP (Waste & Resources ActionProgramme) encourages the efficientuse of resources by helping individuals,businesses and local authorities to reducewaste and recycle more. We work to createthe case for change, support change anddeliver change.To meet the challenges presented byclimate change we need local solutions toglobal problems. Ashden Award winnersare breaking through barriers for a moresustainable world and a better quality oflife for all.Ecotricity, the worlds first green electricitycompany. Turning electricity bills intowindmills.Willmott Dixon was recently ranked in theSunday Times Best Green Companies List asbest performing contractor. The companyaims to be carbon neutral and send zerowaste to landfill by 2012.Over the next 20 years business will haveto change radically in order to becomemore sustainable and the Breakthroughsevent offers exciting and challengingexamples of the lengths we will have to goto deliver change on this scale.Natural England wants to transform howpeople connect with nature, ensuringwe all understand how the economicand health benefits of a well-balancedenvironment contribute to healthier,happier communities, better able to adaptto the impacts of climate change.40 Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century Sustainable Development Commission

The small printThis report is made entirely of that paper you put out every weekfor the council to recycle.It was printed with inks made from vegetable oil and without usingany water or alcohol (the main materials used by most printers),so it will all wash off nicely when you recycle it.The report’s production was powered by renewable energy andthe whole process, including transportation, is carbon neutral.Sustainable Development Commission Breakthroughs for the twenty-first century 41

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