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Future Proof Kilkenny

On 18th September we held our first event of the season, a seminar on sustainable transport solutions. We heard from the car sharing company, GoCar and electric car company Greenaer but for us, the most interesting aspect was to hear from the existing individuals and organisations within Kilkenny already implementing and pressing for sustainable transport solutions. Ring-a-Link, Kilkenny Cereals, Malcolm Noonan, An Taisce and The Green schools program. This is the strength of the Transition process – to network different groups together in the context of peak oil and climate change.

Josephine Plettenberg attended and wrote an excellent review of the morning for her column in the Kilkenny People. We are very grateful to her for allowing us to reprint it.

Due to interest, inclination and training, I have often gone to environmental seminars, workshops and other talks. Quite often these are depressingly negative, meetings where people of similar convictions give out, rant and loose themselves in negativity. Last week, I went to a half day seminar on transport organised by Future Proof Kilkenny, hoping against hope that this would be constructive and interesting and reasonably rant free. Hours later we left invigorated, optimistic and full off new ideas, with the car fanatic of this family having enjoyed a trial run in an electric car around the car park. Eerily silent and totally free of emissions, the car moved like a space age vision of our future, a future which, as we heard yesterday, could actually be preferable to the past.

No negativity, no scare mongering was even hinted at,  as we listened to Brian Dillon of Future Proof Kilkenny talking about climate change and peak oil and the geological inevitability of a low energy future. We heard how efficiently some people plan for this, about energy descent actions plans and transition towns, about “skilling up for powerdown”, about an exciting future that could be as adventurous and powerful as the time of the industrial revolution, the last time seriously new things happened.

New ideas, new vision and above all new technology is enabling us to deal with the low energy future, technology that will no longer be reliant on oil and high energy inputs. As we learn to consume less energy and resources and as we begin to rely more on local economies and each other, the future could actually be a good and exciting one. All we need to do is accept the inevitability of change.

GoCar from Cork where there to show how they entice cars off the road by hiring their small fleet out to customers for as low as  6 Euro and hour – all in. No cleaning, no petrol costs, no road tax, no insurance and above all no hassle. A change of mind set, as we try to reduce our reliability on our own cars. Ring- a – link were there as well of course,  to outline how they hope to do this in rural Ireland with their no-profit, community based and flexible door-to-door bus service. And then there was the little car, smaller than the Smart and silent as a bicycle, the REVA drives up to 80 km/h and has a range of 80 km. After that you plug it in, same plug as your kettle, same low cost. It all sounds fascinating and seems a dream for a short commute. Presuming you drive under 80 km a day and can use night electricity to recharge, you can get the cost equivalent of 600m/gallon!  So far the REVA is tiny but apparently the boy toy, a car called “Lightening”,  that accelerates from 0-60 km/h in under 4 seconds is out there as well and the family car is around the corner.

As we sat there and dreamed of a time when we shall all drive cars that cost us little and the earth nothing, An Taisce took over with their schools programme, explaining how school transport is now incorporated into their green flag scheme and how they hope to reduce the use of the car for the school run. Councillor Noonan told us about cycling in Kilkenny and a public consultation document, published recently by the Department of Transport, called “2020 Vision for Sustainable Travel and Transport in Ireland”. Here the Minister states that  by 2020 “there will be a considerable shift to public transport , cycling and walking…. and  a completely changed public attitude which ensures that, where feasible, the car becomes the travel mode of last resort”. So, on your bike, I reckon and maybe – until we get there and those brand-new motorways become redundant –  while we are still depending on our gasoline cars, we could fuel them with local rape seed diesel, an option outlined by Michael Prendergast.

“Slow down, go further” was the title of last weeks seminar and Future Proof Kilkenny is the crowd you want to look out for. Very interesting, very optimistic about the future and no ranting, no political bashing, no depression in sight. One of the speakers quoted Victor Hugo, the great French author, artist and statesman of the 19th century who said that “no power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come”. These will be exciting years. In 2020 our youngest will just be contemplating his leaving cert. It’s around the corner – and we shall be cycling to the Ploughing.

One Comment to “Slow down, Go further – a review”

  1. […] “for The Head” continued the awareness raising with seminars on sustainable transport, oil vulnerability auditing, and a timely presentation by FEASTA called “The Money Bubble: From […]

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