Moving Our Town Towards Zero Carbon using Doughnut Economics

Doughnut economics is an approach, or tool, for transforming our economic system to take full account of social and ecological issues so that planetary boundaries and social inequalities are addressed. It was developed by Kate Raworth, formally with Oxfam and now with Oxford University, originally to challenge the way the global economic system functioned to the detriment of most people and the planet.  The doughnut is the ring of a ‘safe and just space for humanity’. The hole inside represents the shortfall experienced by those who do not enjoy all the elements which a just and fair society would provide: housing, food, energy, equality of opportunity, education, income and work, political voice, etc. The dough ring represents the safe and just space for people, bounded on the inside by a social foundation and on the outside by the ecological ceiling. Outside the doughnut are the ecological challenges or planetary boundaries that are currently being exceeded, including biodiversity loss, climate change, air pollution and so on.

At the request of Amsterdam City government, Kate Raworth is now working on how to develop the tool for use at city level, and there is no reason why it could not be considered for even smaller areas of governance like our own town and community area. Key to the tool is establishing fora for discussion on:

What it would mean for all citizens to thrive?
What would it mean for the town to thrive within its natural habitat?
What would it mean for the town to respect the wellbeing of people worldwide?
What would it mean for the town to respect the whole planet?

Of course, Bradford on Avon can be self contained in only a few ways, and many possible changes could only be achieved by the support of individuals, businesses in the town, and of course Wiltshire Council and the government. But discussing these issues, ideally in a local mini citizen’s assembly could lead to some creative ideas, especially given the great network of street champions that has developed during the lockdown. We cannot expect our small band of Town Councillors to transform our town to zero carbon, nor to do all the organising for developing a way forward. Is this tool the one worth exploring, to open up debate away from particular projects, to the broader vision of a zero carbon future for our town?

from our chair, Rachel Berger