For the consideration of the members of the Citizens' Assembly
The current crisis within the Island is a microcosm of the global one but with a more immediate and visible effect in that it is changing the face of the Island on an almost daily basis.
The causes are also a reflection of those that are affecting the whole planet, and in the same way it is not possible to act in any one area in isolation to all the other interconnected causes.
The overriding cause of most environmental problems is population pressure and the drive for an ever-greater appetite in that population for more and cheaper goods and services.
In Jersey we have been victim to a delusion that prosperity is linked to an ever-growing population, without regard to the fact that we have finite space, it is this same ‘Ponzi scheme’ that argues for more inward migration to fill a pension shortfall.
Over the last 20 years we have, in broad terms seen the population grow by 20,000 and productivity drop by 20%, Guernsey by comparison has kept an almost stable population and seen productivity increase by a similar amount.
There are many ways to control and regulate the population, but a starting point should be to close the door until we have a long-term strategy agreed and implemented. A decade ago, the States set a target of 325 per annum, and then set about shattering that target every year thereafter.
This is negligence on an epic scale.
Why the contribution is important
Key areas of concern.
Transport: there is a painfully slow process going on to develop a Sustainable Transport Policy (STP), with a major focus on private vehicles, bicycles and walking, this misses the point.
Most private vehicles spend less than two hours a day on the road, buses, refuse lorries, skip lorries and other heavy commercial vehicles spend 8-10 hours a day on the road to pay their way. Private vehicles are renewed/replaced every 3-5 years and every new model is cleaner and more efficient than the previous one, commercial vehicles often have a working life of 25-30 years.
Establishing a hydrogen electrolysis plant, powered by our ‘green’ electricity, and buying a fleet of 50 hydrogen fuel cell buses (HFC) would cost about £30m. if you want to find out about the benefits look at the long-term trial in Aberdeen, they have run nearly a million kilometres with their HFC buses, many other jurisdictions have done the same.
If that is too major a change then as an interim move all commercial vehicles to one of the biodiesel fuels in the short term and migrate to HFC over a longer period.
Waste: Jersey at last count was sending 14,000 tonnes of food waste to the EFW plant to be incinerated resulting in carbon dioxide and other gases and also requiring the energy to evaporate approx. 8,000 tonnes of water, this is profoundly stupid and totally unsustainable. The vast majority of this food waste, together with almost all the approx. 18,000 tonnes of green / organic waste can all be composted today, numerous schemes have been running for decades in other enlightened jurisdictions.
As a benefit, the resultant compost can be used upon the land to help reverse the last 70 years of damage caused by chemical farming. Higher levels of soil carbon (SOM, soil organic matter) improve water retention of the land reducing damaging runoff and in time produce higher nutritional levels in crops and reduce the chemical levels in food.
The carbon thus sequestered in the soil can be measured and quantified and monetised into ‘carbon credits’ that have a commercial value which can then be used by individuals and organisations to offset their carbon footprint. A Channel Islands carbon exchange is being created at present.
Construction: Every building and structure has a value of embedded carbon and energy; every time developers demolish a building those components are released to the detriment of the Island.
Every developer from the States down is wedded to traditional concrete and steel construction methods, the most damaging methods known, since the adoption of the STP and Climate Policy not one single major project has engaged in sustainable practices. The next JIFC building, without any tenants, is not sustainable, the three 11 floor blocks of flats destined for the Waterfront will be traditional construction and there will be no carbon cost accounting published because it would show them to be unsustainable and not economically viable.
There is a simple alternative, sustainable timber-based construction.
Again, this has been around for years and is tried and tested, generally used in sub 20 floor high rise buildings, more than enough for Jersey, the tallest timber structure announced so far is to be 85 floors, Sumitomo Corp in Tokyo, timber also happens to resist earthquakes and typhoons very well, with climate change the latter might be useful in Jersey.
This raises the next point; nothing has been done to raise the standards of thermal efficiency and energy sustainability for construction in Jersey.
Infrastructure: the failure to control population also brings with it an ever-increasing load upon water supplies, electricity, telecoms, and sewerage. The new Liquid Waste Treatment plant being built in Bellozanne is not yet in commission, it has a design capacity of a population of 118,000, how long before we have to spend millions enlarging it?
Currently there is no provision within the designs for an integrated method for handling all the biosolids that will be produced, this is going to be very high in carbon and much as the food waste could be simply fed into the EFW to make more carbon dioxide or it could be treated and processed to be used to sequester the carbon in the ground, this requires some joined up thinking, it has all been done elsewhere and can be researched far more cheaply by civil servants than by expensive consultants who may not have any experience of the processes involved. A couple of the engineers at NMC are knowledgeable on this subject but to date nobody has asked them!
Public Works: The States of Jersey as the ultimate client on behalf of the public appear to be unaware of the consequences of many decisions, often taken in isolation and ignoring longer term benefits. A modular sustainable hospital on the Waterfront would have a far lower carbon footprint than that proposed at present but that site was deemed more financially viable as offices and flats. With the crash in 2008/9 and Covid the office model is broken, with the need to restrict population growth the plan for flats is also in jeopardy, maybe a hospital is the answer? The Waterfront came second in the list of sites at about 82% against the Park at 84%, no other site scored more than somewhere in the 60% range.
Another argument against the Waterfront was the risk of flooding due to sea level rises associated with global warming, luckily this has been addressed by the adoption of the Shoreline Management Plan.
Neither of the substantial development plans for the Airport and Harbour make any significant efforts to be environmentally friendly or sustainable, both of these projects fall under the control of the government and yet there is not a sign of any control or even guidance being imposed upon them. Both are areas where the government could and should set an example and establish the ‘tone’ for the future, they could become models for others to follow.
The Economy: The transition of Jersey to carbon neutrality and sustainability could become a major source of economic benefit for many years into the future, building a whole new range of financial services.
Jersey has the resources and the potential to build upon the pioneering work of others and to then export the models to a global market, every project that sets new levels of sustainability offers potential for green investors. If it is not strangled by bureaucracy the CI Carbon exchange could provide a model for a couple of hundred small island jurisdictions and potentially a locally controlled global market.
The HFC bus project might be adopted in Guernsey before Jersey, a couple of Caribbean Islands and Madagascar have expressed interest.
Orkney is now about 110% energy sufficient from renewables, they are looking to run an HFC ferry and to export energy in the form of hydrogen.
Jersey could be growing 200+ varieties of food crops, all with high nutritional values and low chemical levels. It could even be possible to use bioremediation in the water table to reduce PFAS/PFOS.
Please note: This was a written submission made by a member of the public to the citizens' assembly on climate change.
by GoJResponse on April 01, 2021 at 10:49AM