On September 23rd we held our first event of the year: we took a field trip to visit CAT, the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth. Being just a thirty-minute bus- or train-ride away from Aberystwyth, it was an ideal opportunity for our research group to not just invite speakers to come visit us but to go to where the speakers and the interesting topics are.
CAT is “an education and visitor centre which demonstrates practical solutions for sustainability.” Their topics cover “all aspects of green living: environmental building, eco-sanitation, woodland management, renewable energy, energy efficiency and organic growing.”
We went to CAT to hear a specialist lecture on ZERO Carbon Futures which is based on a report published by CAT by bringing together a wide-array of researchers on “ZERO Carbon Britain 2030: a new energy strategy”. The report is far-reaching and ambitious, aiming at transforming Britain into a zero-carbon society by 2030 through generating all energy using 100% renewable sources. It touches upon all aspects of live from transport, to land-use, to energy production, as well as behaviour change. During the presentation we had a chance to debate some of the details of the report. One of our concerns was the seemingly strong focus on CO2 reduction at the expense of for example other considerations such as biodiversity. We were also astonished at the far-reaching implications of this report that would require fundamental changes in the areas outlined, including the behaviour of individuals. We were wondering how to bring this about.
The second part of our visit was a tour of CAT’s wonderful outdoor exhibitions. We learned about energy usage and generation, about gardening, about sustainable building and many other aspects. This was truly inspiring. So was the fact that we were able to get a glimpse at some of the work students do as part of their master degrees at the Graduate School for the Environment at CAT. It’s a truly inspiring place to visit!