I received a text message this morning from the Customer Welfare Team at Electricity North West:

We’re getting in touch to make you aware of our free energy-saving service. If you’d like to benefit from advice on how to save both money and energy then please reply to this message with your postcode and we’ll arrange for Cumbria Action for Sustainability, one of our local partners, to contact you. Thanks.

The name rang a vague bell, then I remembered that I’d seen it on a poster on the notice board outside our local library last week. It had a picture of a globe, and was headed “Puzzled over the climate crisis?”. It went on:

Reading for a zero-carbon Cumbria. Want to take action but don’t know where to begin? Join one of our FREE climate reading groups to read, learn & discuss the climate emergency with others in your area throughout Cumbria.

Make friends. Make sense. Make change.

Groups meet in libraries, cafes, pubs, homes [where covid regulations allow] or online.

Book bundles distributed to groups by Cumbria Libraries.

At the foot of the photo were logos for Cumbria Libraries, Cumbria County Council, Emergence Foundation and Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS). A telephone number and email address were also supplied for the named individual who it seems has been appointed to make all this happen. However, I won’t spoil his week by naming him or supplying his email address or telephone number here.

I feel no such inhibitions regarding CAfS, as they have a websitei and they do seem keen that people contact them. Their website describes them as being “Cumbria’s climate change and sustainability organisation” and goes on to say that “We’re here to help Cumbrians to reduce their carbon footprint and prevent damaging climate change.”

I’ve lost count now of the number of stories about small endeavours, however well meant, and organisations such as this where the words (or some variation) “prevent damaging climate change” appear. The implicit assumption is obviously that all climate change is damaging and must be stopped (I wonder if I’d be allowed to attend one of the reading groups and ask awkward questions, or should sceptics not apply?). The other assumption seems to be that they actually can prevent climate change. I know, I know, lots of little steps add up, but if everyone in Cumbria ceased emitting CO2 overnight, it wouldn’t make the blindest difference to anything.

As for that poster, advertising a reading group, a visit to the CAfS website puts it rather differently:

Around 400 people across Cumbria will be more empowered to take action on climate change in 2021 through a programme of community training on climate science and solutions, funded by the Emergence Foundation.

The interactive activities include short online training sessions and climate conversation cafes, and they’ll be delivered by a network of 20 volunteers, supported by our CAfS training coordinator. The programme got under way in March 2021 and continues until September 2021.

Taking action on climate change is a journey. The first step for most people is to know that there’s a problem, to care about that problem, to understand what the solutions are and what they can do about it. Knowledge is power, and that’s where our new series of community climate training comes in.

Not so much a reading group, then, and more a training (dare I say propaganda?) session.

But back to the website more generally. They benefit from charitable status, and they proudly state that they receive “no government or other unrestricted statutory funding” and then a pie chart shows that they earn almost one quarter of their funding, with a small further amount in the form of donations and investment income, but that 70.31% of their income is grant income. A visit to the Charity Commission websiteii tells me (for the financial year ending 29th February 2020):

Total income includes £674 from 2 government contract(s) and £90,739 from 6 government grant(s).

And a quick look at their most recent filed accounts shows grants from South Lakeland District Council, Lake District National Park, Eden District Council, Cumbria County Council, Cumbria Council for Voluntary Service (itself a registered charity), Historic England, Innovate UK (which, according to my friend Wikipedia, is “the United Kingdom’s innovation agency, a non-departmental public body operating at arm’s length from the Government as part of the United Kingdom Research and Innovation organisation), Electricity North West (hence my text message, I suppose) and NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group.

Their workforce is not insubstantial:

Management and Administration

Chief Executive Officer

Administration Officer

Development Manager

Finance and Resources Manager

Project Management and Development

Project Manager: Fellfoot Forward

Climate and Carbon Literacy Training Manager

Project Manager: Low Carbon Communities

Community Carbon Literacy Coordinator

Electric Vehicles Project Team

Low-carbon Development Manager

Project Officer: Electric vehicle chargepoint programme

Energy Team

Programme manager: Energy services

Project manager: Retrofit for Cumbria

Project manager (x5):Cold to Cosy Homes

Zero Carbon Cumbria Partnership

Project Manager: Zero Carbon Cumbria

Project Support Officer: Zero Carbon Cumbria

Cumbria Sustainability Network Coordinator

Central Support

Marketing & communications manager (x2)

Events & project support officer

Project support officer

They are also currently advertising for a senior marketing officer and a marketing officer.

I suppose these are some of the quality green jobs we are always being told are being created as part of the drive to net zero. If I reply to my text message, I wonder which one of them will get in touch and help me to work out which gadgets I need to switch off.

i https://cafs.org.uk/

ii https://register-of-charities.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-details/?regid=1123155&subid=0

7 Comments

  1. Hang on Electricity North West: are not a retailer
    We have Northern Powergrid here, they don’t contact us

    When I was in Cockermouth 2013 ? I passed a shop with ridiculous Global Warming poster and photo-ed them
    wonder if it’s the same folks ?
    I checked, seems not

    Is it bit like BT phoning you up
    “We have a community charity fund , we’ve put Socialist Worker in charge of it ” ?

    Like

  2. ‘It used to be bad teeth.’

    Still is. My face-mask stopped being about covid months ago.

    Like

  3. That’s an extraordinary post on the back of a single text message.

    David uncovers Goliath through his web browser. But, let’s face it, it’s only a tiny tentacle of Leviathan.

    I’m going to have to work on my metaphors. But great post.

    Like

  4. The scale of that organisation is staggering. No doubt all the other regions have something similar going on, all at the taxpayer’s expense, of course. No wonder there’s never enough money for essential services, etc..
    “I know, I know, lots of little steps add up” reminds me of a quip from the late David MacKay – “If we all do a little then only a little will get done”!
    Like you being tempted to attend one of those groups, I’ve thought about going along to my local U3A’s Climate Crisis group. However experience of discussing climate issues with friends and acquaintances puts me off because, generally speaking, Joe Public doesn’t have much knowledge so the discussion usually derails quickly, ending up with some variant of “all those scientists can’t be wrong”.
    It has also struck me that folk are often uncomfortable with information which challenges their habitual acceptance of what the government/experts say. A lot of people still trust the BBC, for example.

    Like

  5. “Sustainable Carlisle organising event to kickstart Carlisle’s Big Green Week in Carlisle”

    https://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/19566926.sustainable-carlisle-organising-event-kickstart-carlisles-big-green-week-carlisle/

    “A SUSTAINABILITY group in Carlisle is preparing to kickstart a week of events in Carlisle which aim to highlight and inform people about the climate crisis.

    To kick off Carlisle’s Great Big Green Week, which is being supported by Carlisle City Council, Sustainable Carlisle will be organising an event in Carlisle city centre between 10am and 2pm on September 18.

    A variety of local organisations and artists will be on hand to provide information and workshops.”

    More taxpayers’ money going on this sort of thing, I see. Sustainable Carlisle has a website:

    http://www.sustainablecarlisle.org/

    I wasn’t too bothered, when I read about things like farmers’ markets, since I’m quite a fan of localism. But then I found the “About us” section:

    “We are a network of people and projects in Carlisle, that want to make our city more sustainable for ourselves and for following generations. We wish to help create a peaceful, vibrant, resilient future based on common sense, ecological wisdom and social justice.

    We will do this by:

    Increasing awareness of local and global issues surrounding Climate Change and Peak Oil.

    Helping to reducing Carlisle’s overall Greenhouse Gas emissions and dependence on Fossil Fuels.

    Whilst we do this, we will take every reasonable step to minimise the Greenhouse Gas emissions resulting from our groups’ activities.”

    Then there are activity packs for children (this seems to be the brainwashing section):

    “Sustainable Carlisle are delighted to introduce and launch our activity packs!

    These activity packs aim to teach children and young people about environmentalism in a creative and enjoyable manner.

    There are three different packs suited for varying levels of experience and knowledge, which ensures everyone, from ages 4 to 24, will be able to find something that interests them.

    Read on to learn more and download your packs!

    Pack 1 ”Bronze” : For those who are starting to explore the world and play in nature. Fun and creative, this pack will set it’s participants up for learning about the fundamentals of the climate crisis.

    Pack 2 “Silver”: For those who want to learn more on how to help with the climate crisis and have their voice heard. Positive and empowering, this pack will help it’s participants feel like they can make a difference.

    Pack 3 “Gold”: For those who want to know more in depth issues around the climate crisis and how to campaign as a young activist. Full to the brim, this pack will ensure it’s participants will feel confident in their activism.”

    Do click on the activity packs to discover the full extent of the brainwashing:

    http://www.sustainablecarlisle.org/activity-packs

    Like

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