Communities and governments are switching to localized alternative energy systems

Overview of recent initiatives by the Encounters newsletter:

(the original has all the links; ENCOUNTERS is an e-newsletter publication of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns’ Faith Economy Ecology Program)

“Creating and strengthening local energy systems that are locally controlled is a key priority for communities preparing for a post-peak oil reality and all around the world we see this happening. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) recently released a report detailing the advantages of local ownership of energy production versus communities using out-of-state (or country) corporations. ILSR also documents a variety of community and state initiatives in local energy systems and other areas where communities are localizing their economies.

Interfaith Power & Light is a “religious response to global warming” that helps congregations of faith to reduce their energy usage and convert to renewable energy systems. Since the year 2000 they have assisted thousands of faith communities to understand their role as stewards of God’s Creation. Their website has an excellent compilation of resources on ecology from a faith-based perspective including sample sermons, prayers and other worship resources, study guides for groups, and religious statements on climate change.

The organization Go 100% has identified “eight countries, 46 cities, 52 regions, eight utilities, 21 non-profit/educational/public institutions, totaling more than 48.1 million people (and counting…) who have shifted or are committed to shifting within the next few decades to 100 percent renewable energy in at least one sector (e.g. electricity, transportation, heating/cooling).” Their website provides a wealth of concrete examples of communities uniting to remove fossil fuels from their economies, as well as detailed studies of how different communities could become 100 percent renewable.

The International Renewable Energy Agency also provides some inspiring case studies of cities “where local governments have successfully adopted measures to promote renewable energy and sustainability.”

A collection of civil society organizations in Ireland recently released their Community Energy Policy Position Paper, defining community energy as “a broad term that describes citizen and local ownership and participation in renewable energy generation, distribution and energy efficiency.” The paper describes the different barriers that such initiatives face and how government could facilitate the implementation of more community energy projects. As communities in other countries face similar barriers, the paper is helpful beyond the borders of Ireland. Erik Jan van Oosten provides a less technical explanation of the paper looking at the societal, technological and financial aspects of what needs to be done.

The British Columbia Sustainable Energy Association has a good four-part investigation of how the Canadian province could become a 100 percent renewable energy region, considering electricity, building heating and transportation.

Sweden has become a world leader in garbage recycling, currently recycling 99 percent of its garbage. It is so efficient that it has actually run out of garbage and now imports hundreds of thousands of tons of garbage from other countries to be used as a source of energy. But the program is not without its problems. Close to 50 percent of Sweden’s trash is burnt in incinerators that have a number of negative environmental effects including the release of dioxins that are especially toxic pollutants. The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) argues that a true zero waste program would not use incinerators, but other options such as extending producer responsibility for their products after their useful life, using clean production techniques to avoid pollution, moving toward circular production systems that create no waste, and comprehensive composting of organic materials. GAIA points to other cities and regions that are implementing true zero waste programs without the use of incinerators. “

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.