‘Building Back Better’ – Climate Conscious Post Pandemic Recovery

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The concept of a ‘green recovery’ seems to be one of the buzz words at the moment as we begin to plan beyond the current crisis.

Activists, businesses, academics, and politicians across the spectrum are calling for ambition and action to tackle the climate emergency as we forge our path out of lockdown.

With a significant economic downturn forecast, governments around the world look to balance the public health emergency with the need to take action to save the economy. But pressure is also mounting for recovery to focus on sustainability.

We’ve had to adapt quickly to respond and to safeguard our health – habits and behaviours have had to change overnight. With less traffic and less pollution, it has become clear from early on during lockdown that people are looking for something better – with cleaner travel and a more flexible approach to work close to the top of the agenda. Experts on climate have recognised this and are arguing that this moment should be seized to accelerate progress towards a low carbon economy. Temporary gains for the environment and climate during the pandemic must not be lost.

To ensure positive soundbites become actions we need leadership, agents for change and co-operation to deliver. This is where M-SParc, is well placed to play a key role.

The climate agenda has been this north Wales science park’s focus since it opened in 2018 – providing space and support for low carbon knowledge-based business to thrive. Taking these principles further post Covid-19 will be key to ensuring environmental benefits to recovery by sharing knowledge and experience with partners locally and further afield.

M-SParc’s iconic BREEAM excellent-rating building was designed with climate and low carbon principles at its core.  From its energy efficient solar PVs powering businesses inside to EV charge points, and importantly, an ethos which compels tenant businesses and partners to constantly consider their impact on climate.

Pryderi ap Rhisiart, Managing Director at M-SParc, explains:

“Now is the time to raise our game and ambition in terms of climate and carbon reduction. We have an opportunity to take stock and build back better – this is exactly what we aim to do here at M-SParc. Over 60% of our tenants are already from the low carbon sector – and this is something we want to increase as we move forward.

“We’re not standing still though and through this crisis we are looking at how we can play a part in a green recovery – by helping our businesses to adapt, as many have already done so, but also by facilitating the discussion around a climate friendly bounce back. This is why we held our first virtual ‘Egni 2020’ conference recently. Part of a series of events usually held on site, the theme this time was very much focused on the impact of Covid-19 and how we can plan for a better future.”

Speakers at Egni 2020 came from a broad range of low carbon technology projects including community initiatives, renewables and clean energy. Their messages reiterated conversations heard on a global level, calling on decision makers to grasp the positives from this crisis and push for a sustainable recovery with reducing our impact on the climate an important part of this.

Egni panellist Rebecca Colley Jones of Anglesey-based Ynys Resources identified some of the key elements she believed should be linked to the post-pandemic recovery in her talk. Her emphasis was on community, co-operation, and innovation.  These principles were echoed by the other speakers at the on-line event.

A regular at Egni conferences, Ynni Ogwen’s Meleri Davies explained how their work at the hydro energy project is a perfect fit with the aims of a green recovery.  Ynni Ogwen Cyf is a community benefit company, operating for both the environmental and social well-being of Dyffryn Ogwen in Gwynedd – with any surplus income used to fund local green and community projects.

Staying with renewable energy sector, panellist Paul Carter of off-shore wind company, Innogy, explained how north Wales is poised to become a key player in clean energy generation. With on and offshore wind as well as the development of tidal energy in the region, serviced by the likes of M-SParc, he believes north Wales is well positioned to be at the heart of an accelerated transition to renewable energy post pandemic.

Clean energy alternative, hydrogen was also on the agenda with Guto Owen of Ynni Glân adding his voice to calls for a green recovery. Guto has long promoted hydrogen as a zero emissions energy and was keen to challenge policy makers and industry to be innovative in order to accelerate changes to our energy consumption habits.

Following the virtual Egni 2020 Pryderi said that he is keen to build on progress and to continue to promote the good work already taking place in north Wales. He explains:

“With research by Centre For Towns and the University of Southampton showing that the Welsh economy will be worst affected by the pandemic we must take collective responsibility and play our part in the recovery beyond the current crisis. But we need to do this in a way which supports sustained climate action.”

Pryderi adds:

“We hope to share our message of promoting a green recovery amongst our partners to help small businesses rebuild responsibly and put climate at heart of how they plan their businesses models post Covid19. Our message is simple – we have to seize the opportunity. We cannot let what has been such a challenging time pass without learning important lessons on how we can do things differently. Better, cleaner and for the good of our climate – not just for the now but for the long term. After all, if the climate is healthier then this must be a positive for our health too.”