Climate Change, Fracking & Community-Led Housing

Great news! On 5 October, the threshold for entry into force of the UN Paris Accord on Climate Change was achieved. 81 parties of the 197 signatories have so far ‘ratified’ the agreement. (The UK has signalled it will do so soon.) The Paris Accord will therefore enter into force on 4 November 2016.

Some disturbing news is that the very day after the Paris Accord announcement, the UK Government overturned Lancashire Council’s rejection of a fracking site at Preston New Road. Four fracking wells will be drilled there. Earlier this year, one well was approved in North Yorkshire. The dash for home-drilled gas is seen as necessary for energy security to supply the gas which provides most of our heating and provides 30% of electricity through gas-fired power stations. However, is small, densely populated England really able to accommodate drilling of numerous wells and mass movement of tankers of chemicals and pumping water without significant detriment? At the same time, it is difficult to rationalise how the UK will achieve its commitments to cut carbon emissions under the UN Paris Accord, while locking us into a fracking future. Labour, the Lib Dems and the Green Party have widely condemned the Government’s decision. Barry Gardiner MP, Labour’s shadow energy secretary said “The Government decision bulldozes local democracy and risks locking Britain into an old-fashioned dirty energy infrastructure when we should be seizing opportunities for new long-term jobs and investment in a clean energy future”.

While in the UK, we continue to wait for our politicians to set the country on a path to a clean, green, sustainable future, Ecology is working in the global community. We are proud to be part of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, putting people before profit. The 20 October was #BankingOnValues day, a global campaign to inspire people to invest their money to achieve positive economic, social and environmental impact in their communities.

Also, at the global level, we are inspired by the New Urban Agenda, announced at the UN Habitat III conference this week. By 2050, the world urban population is expected to nearly double, making urbanisation one of the century’s transformative trends. As the population grows, economic activities and cultural interactions, as well as environmental and humanitarian impacts are increasingly concentrated in cities, and this poses massive sustainability challenges in terms of housing, infrastructure, education, decent jobs, space and clean air, among others. The New Urban Agenda aims to guide the way cities and human settlements are planned, designed, financed, developed, governed and managed over the coming decades and makes both a heartening and astounding read. The Agenda recognises the importance of integrated, coordinated efforts, by everyone, at a range of levels, from global to regional as well as, national to local. At Ecology, we recognise the importance of liveable, sustainable homes and communities, be they in cities, towns, villages or beyond. Ecology may be small, but we are well known agitators for change. For example, recently we have been invited to give oral evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Housing and Planning and National Housing Taskforce inquiry into new sources of supply, where we are strongly advocating support for community-led housing, affordable housing and improved energy efficiency.

Finally, Ecology is going on tour! As part of Good Money Week, we will be hosting our ‘Good Money Talks’ Event at BALTIC in Gateshead on 4 November. Ecology is bringing together some of the UK’s leading ethical finance organisations: Shared Interest, the world’s only 100% Fair Trade Lender, Castlefield Advisory Partners Ltd, Ethex, UKSIF, and Good With Money. After lunch, our Ecology Members’ Meet-up (all welcome) will provide an opportunity to meet some of the Ecology team, share your views on our work and have a direct input into Ecology’s policies and practice.

Good Money Talks starts at 10 am on 4 November at the River Terrace, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, South Shore Road, Gateshead, NE3 3BA.

Hope to see you there!

Alison Vipond, Deputy Chair, Ecology Building Society
Alison Vipond, Deputy Chair, Ecology Building Society

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Published: 27 October 2016

Author: Laura Baines