Climate emergency, Green New Deal and Rapid Transition - opportunities?

So a lot has happened here in the UK in recent weeks, what with David Attenborough taking a big stand on the climate, Greta Thunberg’s visit, and Extinction Rebellion.

The zeitgeist has changed very quickly and politicians are finally responding.

We are hoping that there might be space for inclusion of unconditional support for ambitious ecodesign measures and Right to Repair, and a broader discussion about the need to promote the repair economy as “green jobs”.

Developments that we are tracking, and perhaps you are too? Perhaps this resonates with the situation in other European countries, even the US?

• Climate Emergency declared in Scotland, Wales, move for a Climate Emergency to be declared by Opposition today in the House of Commons - massive rally in Parliament square tonight
• Indications the government will move to amend the 2008 Climate Change Act to add binding net-zero emissions targets by 2050
• Cross Party Commons tabling of a Green New Deal “Decarbonisation and Economic Strategy Bill”
IPPR Commission on Environmental Justice - focus on green jobs and a rapid transition, led by Caroline Lucas (Greens) and Ed Miliband (Labour)
Greenpeace’s Climate Emergency Plan - with mention of resources, circular economy in the industry section

The Greens have been supportive since forever of the Right to Repair agenda and ecodesign. But we’ve had trouble getting through to Labour (via SERA) or the Conservatives (via CEN). We’ll be urgently in touch with connected policy friends to gauge whether some kind of push to include strong language on repair and reuse might work.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear your comments and ideas, event if you are outside of the UK.

Is it worth drafting or getting examples of the kind of language / wording we want in there?

Personally, I’d like to see repair feature heavily in any educational policy too - STEM obv but also arts edu

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Definitely yes, I was perplexed with the wording in Greenpeace’s Plan, strangely worded. Here’s just one example

• Extend the standards currently in EU Eco-design standards so that
manufacturers need to improve the resource efficiency of all products and appliances by more than 2% per year through increased lifetime/durability, ability to be repaired and recycled

@Lara_Houston says she might have some capacity to help us draft something ourselves, but I think we might also want to be clear on what process we would contribute to, or where our language can make an impact.

This is vitally important if we are to move to a low carbon economy. There needs to be a massive change in how we view our tech and electricals. Manufacturers need to supply the parts, knowledge and allow repair to be undertaken - affordably. You guys are great at passing on and teaching skills. Repair cafes also play a massive part in this.

Goods needs to be designed to last, to be upgraded and repaired, with any luck that change is coming. Great initiatives like Restart have a strong role to play in this and you have achieved great things already. Hopefully this is just the start

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Absolutely agree @catherine_causley! And BTW, total solidarity with the local government officials trying to make this happen :raised_hands:

We need leadership from central government and it’s encouraging to see these developments.

I was thinking about how the Manchester Declaration could turn into an agenda for action on consumption / resources.

We already have some of the top-level language, we just need to get a little more granular in policy terms, and continue to make the link to the economy and jobs.

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I guess “Extend the standards …” should read “Extend the requirements …” - or do you mean some other aspect of the wording is odd?

But by my calculation compounded 2% annual improvement will barely add up to 80% improvement in 31 years i.e. 2050, which is inconsistent with the first para in Circular Economy section demanding a doubling of resource productivity by 2020 instead of 2050. Maybe the numbers refer to different resources.

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We were a bit perplexed by this percentage measure of resource efficiency per product, not sure this is something even discussed but could be proven wrong. We’d more like to focus on meaningful and enforceable measures, for key product categories. That said, it is a tough one, SMART targets for the ecodesign process.

I’m no expert but it would seem to be a useful concept - if the per-year-of-life carbon/resource/energy footprint of a product can be steadily reduced at source (whether by amortising its manufacturing cost over more years of life through higher-quality design+manufacture, by life extension through repairability, or by continually reducing the the stuff/energy needed to manufacture it in the first place) wouldn’t that be a desirable thing to mandate, assuming it can be quantified/measured.

There’s the rub. As far as we know there is no standard for a “resource efficiency” measure per product, and moreover, most manufacturers do not even adhere to ISO standards in their lifecycle assessments, or allow them to be audited by third parties. (Come to think of it, these two latter points might be something to insist on?)

Sharing here that Green Alliance is promoting a report about how to reach NetZero, and they cite a really interesting paper on waste/resources in UK industry, and how to reduce its footprint. It’s now six years old, but deserves a close to read to see if they identify any barriers to remanufacture that are also barriers to repair.

For example

The Ellen McArthur Foundation paper on the circular economy calculated that the
collection of 50% of mobile phones (of those, reusing 38%, remanufacturing 41%, and
recycling 21%) would result in a 16% energy use reduction in mobile phone manufacturing.

And

Manufacturing sub-sectors that offer the greatest opportunities to capture significant value from circular resource use are:
• Electrical, electronic and optical products
• Machinery and equipment
• Transport equipment
For just these three sub-sectors, remanufacturing can create £5.6bn to 8bn p.a. of value for
manufacturers, support over 310,000 new jobs that are skilled and rewarding and reduce UK
greenhouse gas emissions.
The key barriers to achieving these remanufacturing benefits are: senior executive leadership, information, skills, design, infrastructure, legal constraints and collaboration.

So perhaps we need to reframe the British Green New Deal to really focus in on these kind of jobs, and how they can help boost regions that have been overlooked and neglected?

From Green Alliance:

Keeping in mind, the barriers to reuse/reman and repair massively overlap.

We just made an attempt to connect some of the dots above, in a blog post.

But we’re sure this can go a lot further. We’re just scratching the surface…

cc @Lara_Houston

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We’re making progress bringing our reflections and perspectives to a wider audience, finally also to political parties. We’ve started to focus on targeting progressive political parties in the UK, given the additional visibility of environmental themes in the last couple months. Here are our current updates:

  • We’ve received interest from the Green Party to support our Manchester Declaration

  • We’re soon meeting Clive Lewis MP, who - together with Caroline Lucas - is behind the “Decarbonisation and Economic Strategy” proposed bill

  • Next Thursday we’ll speaking at this event organised by the New Economics Foundation, responding to Vince Cable MP, and bringing our perspective on repair - (free) tickets still available:

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Big news from us here in the UK. We’re asking signatories of the Manchester Declaration to contact their MPs and seek endorsement of the document, and start a conversation about Right to Repair

Let’s hope the Green and Lib Dem endorsements can create some FOMO, at least in the Labour party…

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Just noting for the record we met with Lewis’ Economic Adviser and had a very positive conversation which we hope to follow up on.