Tackling climate change comes with big political decisions, major tech breakthroughs and worldwide changes. But it also comes with heroes in there just ploughing away at tackling climate change.
Wales has plenty of those - people doing their bit, but not getting much of the credit they deserve for their inspiring work. And since we’ve just celebrated St David’s day, what better time to shine a spotlight on some amazing stories of climate hope from Cymru?
1. Plas Newydd mansion
The 300 year old mansion set on the beautiful Anglesey coast used to be the National Trust’s biggest oil user. So in 2015 they installed a marine-source heat pump. The clean heating system works by collecting warmth from the sea and using it to heat the house. And this is not just any heat pump - it’s the UK’s largest and provides enough warmth for the entire mansion. As well as stacks of carbon savings, it cuts Plas Newdd’s heating bills by £40,000 per year - money they can spend on keeping the old place fit for the 21st century.
2. Elwy Working Woods
The Elwy woods were planted 25 years ago, and six businesses came together to form a co-operative to manage them. Not only are woodland beautiful, but they breath in and store CO2 - helping battle climate change too. There are twelve co-op members now, all working in woody things like saw-milling, basket making and tree planting. Using the local wood means far less emissions from transport, and keeping the financial benefit from their woody trades local.
3. The Swansea tidal lagoon
Ok, this one hasn’t happened yet, but it’s going to be super awesome. The tidal lagoon will be a UK first. A sea wall will be built around the bay so that as the tide comes in and out, turbines under the sea will turn and generate electricity. The tidal lagoon will last 120 years and be big enough to generate electricity for all the homes in Wales.
4. Siop Pwllglas
When the community owned shop in Pwllglas, north Wales, was struggling to keep going, the local church chipped in and raised enough money for 45 solar panels for the shop roof. The low carbon power is great for the environment, and the purse too - the money they save is enough to cover their rent and cut their energy bills in half.
And the carbon savings don’t stop there. The next nearest shop is four miles away, which would have meant lots of car trips if this shop had closed. Plus they sell plenty of local produce - everything from honey to chocolate to bread to beer - also cutting food miles and emissions.
5. Energy Local
Energy Local (or Cyd Ynni) is an innovative trial project happening in Bethesda, north Wales to make the most of local renewable energy resources. 100 households have come together with their local hydro turbine to form an energy club. When it’s been raining, the people share out the power the hydro is generating and pay a reduced rate for it. They’re already making savings on their bills and getting smarter about when to use their power.
6. Llandegfan School
When Llandegfan school decided to get serious about sustainability, they made sure the pupils were right at the centre. They set up an eco watch team for pupils to make smart use of energy at school by switching things off after use and recording how much gas, water and electricity they’re using. Then, to make sure that electricity is clean, they fundraised £9000 for 24 solar panels for the school roof. The pupils designed promo posters, wrote fundraising letters to businesses and ran stalls at fairs to rake in the cash. And all that meant they learned a lot about energy, inside and outside of science lessons.
7. Canolfan Beaumaris
In a time of belt-tightening at the council, this leisure centre was going to be shut down. So the community took it over. For them, saving cash meant saving energy. They installed thick loft insulation and bought new super-efficient boilers. Right now they’re looking at adding cavity wall insulation. And that’s not to mention 100 solar panels on the roof. Thanks to all those carbon cutting improvements the leisure centre has the cash to keep going and run community events that they wouldn’t have been able to without.