A recording of this year’s Annual General Meeting can be found here.
The AGM this year gave us a chance to talk about how we can develop, grow, and refine the Bristol Energy Network ‘Member Offer’, in fact the discussion suggested that perhaps it should be called a ‘Member Agreement’.
The discussions raised points that fell into the following categories:
What we want as members of the network:
- Shared and trusted space to share learning and failings
- Collaborative space to share resources -to make better use of the googlegroup
- Share our skills with each other
- Use voluntary skills to meet our needs
- Clarify the role of individual members
How to make more of the combined expertise of the network
- More collaboration between members
- Make member expertise and asks visible to enable matchmaking
- Targeted invites to the network
- Use combined effort to put more pressure on local government
How we want to interact with the public:
- Open and accessible network
- A means to communicate our goals in lay terms
- To be seen and work as a valued community space
- To be part of the community
- To provide a cheap and health-conscience way to interact
- Create innovative projects that can be replicated by our Local Authority and other cities
- Be a leading community voice on sustainability
We will take all this helpful feedback and distil it into a new document that will be presented to both current and potential members. Thank you for your input!
Next we had the formal AGM business with the presentation of the Board Report and Accounts from the previous year. We also introduced our wonderful new Board Members: Kirsty Hammond, Aisha Stewart, Ruzanna Chitchyan and Paul Chandler. Between them they bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to Bristol Energy Network and we are excited to use this to the network’s advantage! Our outgoing directors Caroline Bird, Jenny Howard Coles, Rebecca Windemer and Sam Willits will be greatly missed. They have all been such assets to BEN with their different skills and expertise. Bristol Energy Network would not be what it is without the time, effort and knowledge that they have imparted and we are very grateful. We’re not going to say goodbye as I’m sure that we will encounter them at various events over the coming weeks and months but we will say a massive THANK YOU!
The second half of the AGM was dedicated to the question ‘What is your message for Emilia and Dave to take to COP26?’. There was one clear general message that came from all the different discussion groups and that was:
‘What’s the hold up?!’
Everyone agreed that climate change is real, it’s happening, and it will not discriminate and that we have the technology out there to help address the problems but that leaders are not responding quickly enough.
Other messages that came up were that we want strong leadership, that people want to make changes but it needs to be encouraged and facilitated by our governments. The infrastructure needs to be laid for the transition to net zero to allow for change: insulation and retrofit of homes, EV charging, removal of barriers and provision of financial support for community energy projects, replication of successful low carbon models to name but a few. There was also an understanding of the need to promote the co-benefits of action of climate change. Looking at retrofit, it is not just the planet that will become more healthy when our homes are using less carbon (due to being well insulated and using low carbon heating such as heat networks or air source heat pumps) but that it will benefit the health of Bristol’s citizens not to mention boosting skills development and creating jobs. Funding was a major issue on the table. The members of Bristol Energy Network know what needs to be done to help towards the shared city goal of net zero by 2030 but without funding for home retrofit, renewables projects, addressing fuel poverty, and community energy projects, it will not be possible.
Finally, the topic at the heart of many of the discussions was that of community action. Waiting around for the politicians to do the right thing has not been working so communities are taking it upon themselves. Community innovation is a powerful tool and if it cannot be directly supported then the barriers at least need to be removed. Finding out what communities want and co-creating projects from there, with consideration of skills and job creation, is a strong way forward and has been evidenced here in Bristol. Our message to COP- learn from the community and support their needs, the carbon reductions will follow!