Monday, 29 September 2014

Jersey in Transition, for politicians, 2014.

Here are some of the ideas thrown out by Jersey in Transition. While I don’t agree with all of them, I think it is a list worth studying. It’s a tidied up list from their Facegroup page. But also see their website,, which has a very good case for Farm Shops, and also for practical initiatives.

One of the chief problems with some of the items on the list is that it is good as a wish list, but does not really specify how something would be done. For instance, “Reduce the island's dependence on the finance industry” is something I suspect even politicians like Philip Ozouf would actually agree with, but what is not clear is how that is to be done.

I’ve heard and seen it on countless manifestoes both this time, and in the past. All kinds of suggestions are made, such as (in the time of the e-commerce boom) that Jersey would be a centre for e-commerce. There always seems a gap between aspiration and implementation. Digital Jersey seems the latest incarnation. But what is needed is to successfully bridge the gap, and that is, I think, incredibly difficult to do, and that’s what needs to be addressed.

But among the list are also some very practical applications – home insulation for example. I have always thought that there are limits to growth imposed by our finite water capacity, and better use of water has to be a priority or we will face drought conditions and water rationing again. The loss of one vessel shows us how flimsy our food security is, and that’s something we should also consider.

Jersey in Transition, for politicians, 2014.

Here are some specific points that JiT has identified where the States of Jersey could make changes that would lead to immediate benefits in the island. In a global transition to a more fair and sustainable way of living on the planet, it is important that the people of Jersey are neither caught unaware nor left behind.

The coming decades will be ones where communities that are more resilient and better connected will be able better to adapt to the changes that we all will face. Preparing for such changes are often win-win strategies - people who experience life in more open, more caring, and less wasteful societies, and those with less class distinction, are happier and feel more satisfaction in their lives.

* Home insulation - reduces outgoings and carbon footprint, pays for itself quickly. Building regulations can insist on high 'passive home' standards, and other buildings can be retrofitted.

* Less car use - better public transport, more walking and cycling, health improvements etc. Subsidise buses, more cycle paths, Boris-style bikes to borrow, trams, minibuses, cycle rickshaws around town.

* Reduce imports - increased diversity of local industry and local job opportunities. Reduce the island's dependence on the finance industry, which remains a dangerously large single point of potential failure, and does not suit everybody.

* Better recycling - All types of plastic. Separate recycling capability for each type of plastic (1-5) and non-ferrous metals, aluminium, copper, lead, brass etc. Electronics. Glass should be recycled, not used in land reclamation. Importation of goods or packaging that cannot be recycled should be taxed (see externalisation of costs below) The goal should be to run the incinerator for only a day a week, or a few days a month.

* Increase local organic growing - e.g. add import tax onto harmful and increasingly expensive agro-chemicals, use extra income to encourage organic growers.

* Reduce externalisation of unsustainable costs - e.g. potato growers who saturate land in fertilisers etc make a quick profit, but cause water purification problems for waterworks, green slime on beaches that put off tourists, soil erosion for future generations etc.

* Marine life - no-take zones and other marine protected zones should be established in local waters to allow fish, the sea-bed and invertebrates a chance to recover and to breed in peace.

* Strict controls on building on green land - the island cannot be resilient to problems like food security, species extinction, replenishment of our fresh water aquifer, soil erosion etc, if green spaces are increasingly paved and built upon.

* Edible hedges, forests and parks - there is a win-win-win combination of planting increasing areas with combinations of native and non-native food-bearing and other trees, shrubs and plants that mature and self-seed largely at their own pace: soil improvement, biodiversity, people's engagement with the countryside and town parks, food security, building local know-how and skills including plant recognition, foraging, preserving and preparation, and re-building a better sense of small localised communities.

* Local diverse energy supply - a sensible feed-in tariff would encourage householders and local businesses to innovate. It would be fairer if all utilities had small consumers paying a lower unit-rate than large and massive users - a simple start in this direction would be to scrap standing and upfront fixed charges.

* Divest States funds and pension schemes from unsustainable businesses especially those based largely on the heavy and continuing use of fossil fuels.

* Have a health care system that is separate from the current illness system - actively engaging people on diet, exercise, and healthy lifestyles.

* Introduce a universal social dividend.

* Where are the new multi-generational homes? Cannot have real family and community care unless the homes people can live in are suitable.

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