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     Dec 10, 2013


This innovative programme presents a model for action that can be used by any individual or community concerned about climate change and social inequality.

“My responsibility to my children and grandchildren is uppermost in my mind. The signs are, what my generation will leave is pretty precarious. It’s a failure of stewardship, and I don’t want to be a part of it.” John Pontin said. By thinking big and refusing to accept the status quo, John Pontin co-founded The Converging World, which uses innovative means to create environmental, social and community change.

His village in the Chew Valley near Bristol was well-known for its positive approach to sustainability, but Pontin realized a number of years ago that he and his neighbours wouldn’t make a huge amount of difference if they only confined themselves to local action. Many considered wind energy not to be a viable renewable energy solution in the local area. However, Pontin had heard about a small village in an impoverished, rural area of Tamil Nadu in Southern India, where he and his neighbours could make difference by supporting sustainable energy projects and local NGOs. The respective sizes of the two villages (the village in the Chew Valley and in Tamil Nadu) also corresponded to the 1:5 population ratio of the developed and developing worlds.

So the Converging World program was born and John Potin – together with the community of Chew Magna – developed a groundbreaking non-profit scheme: an energy system based around wind turbines in Tamil Nadu, which would not only reduce the community’s reliance upon fossil fuels but would also provide, on a local level, a sustainable income source. The carbon credits produced from the wind turbines were sold in Chew Magna to individuals and businesses to offset emissions. The results were clear: while Chew Magna grew closer to producing zero waste, Tamil Nadu’s carbon emissions and poverty levels were being reduced accordingly. The whole idea of a Converging World has its origin in the principle of ‘contraction and convergence’. This is the idea of ensuring that carbon emissions across the world converge, becoming, per capita, equal globally, and at a level with which the planet’s natural processes can cope. This involves reducing the total carbon footprint of some, whilst increasing that of others – aiming for equality. It means having an ideal of social justice, as well as economic redistribution and environmental protection.

This inspirational story presents a ‘model of action’ which can be used by any individual or community concerned about climate change, environmental damage, social inequality, and the plight of developing nations. To find out more about the project ‘ The Converging World’, read the article previously published in IM Magazine (written by Sónia Ramalho and Sofia Teixeira and with design by Rui Matos).


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