Ten years ago the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) launched a pioneering report – Zero carbon Britain – showing that we have the technology and solutions to reduce our carbon emissions down to zero.

Following the historical global Paris climate agreement, agreed in 2015 and ratified at the end of last year, last week CAT launched ZCB: Making it Happen which explores how we can overcome the barriers to developing the low carbon future that is urgently needed.

We are also celebrating a year since the establishment of the first Future Generations Commissioner in Wales, which means that it’s almost a year since I, and a few colleagues along with the Commissioner, attended the Zero Carbon Britain short course in Machynlleth.  The course was inspiring and gave us a fascinating insight into:

  • Why we need to paint a picture of a positive future, so that we can help to create it
  • How we can power down our energy demands & power up using existing technologies
  • How we can make small changes to our own lifestyle and diets to support emission reduction
  • Inspirational stories from elsewhere on how other countries are planning to get to zero.

Their findings from Making it Happen are just as important, if not more so, than all the technological fixes that we already know about. We need to understand what’s stopping us from getting on and doing it – and the report looks at a range of political, social, cultural and economic barriers. As well as seven national well-being goals for a more prosperous, low carbon and resilient Wales, we also have a duty to set carbon budgets and reduce emissions by at least 80% by 2050 (under the Environment Act). We are working with Welsh Government to make sure that the pathways they are developing (to achieve the emissions targets) are also delivering against the seven goals.

An overarching conclusion is that we all need to work together to Make it happen – and one quote from Paul Allen, who has lead this excellent work, has stuck in my head: “our hesitation to believe that this transition is possible is, in itself, one of the key barriers to achieving that shift”.

We know that a pathway to zero emissions is possible, the question is how quickly will we achieve this in Wales?  We know we need to convince more people to make it happen, and quickly; and we all need to ask ourselves – what role am I going to play? So, with the unmistakable tones of Swansea-born Bonnie Tyler’s voice singing in my head (“I need a hero”) I’m on a mission to find all those Zero (carbon) Heroes that can work with us to make this a reality in Wales.

More information on the report can be found at:



Eurgain Powell - Policy Advisor