On 13th March, BANZAI organised a local screening of The Oil Machine, a powerful documentary made available to us by Edinburgh Climate Coalition and directed by local documentary filmmaker Emma Davie. After the film, a panel consisting of Councillor Ben Parker (Morningside Ward), local activist Annie Lane, and Outreach Coordinator Rachel Caplan shared their thoughts, and locals asked questions, leading to some stimulating and thought-provoking discussions.
One of the key topics was how to manage the energy transition, taking into account practical issues of appropriate technology, the need for politicians to recognise the urgency of taking action, and the importance of ensuring that the costs are spread fairly across communities and socio-economic groups.
Ben Parker was asked about the feasibility of requiring new housing developments in Edinburgh to adopt low-carbon heating infrastructure from the outset. He commented that this had not yet been explored but pointed to steps towards district heating systems such as Edinburgh’s first net zero development at Granton Waterfront. He touched on the difficulties of interacting with commercial developers and how the City of Edinburgh Council is currently focussing on the challenge of retrofitting its own housing stock.
In response to the question of how to persuade Councillors to give more priority to the climate emergency, Ben suggested that writing to them personally could be very effective, as was requesting face-to-face meetings with specific Councillors.
After the event, I wrote to Ben and mentioned a great retrofit initiative called Energiesprong for council housing — this started in the Netherlands but is now in the UK too and he said he’d make some enquiries.
Annie Lane discussed the importance of giving a platform and voice to those who have been marginalised but increasingly affected, e.g., by the cost-of-living crisis which sees people needing to choose between feeding their family and heating their homes. The idea of a Just Transition is that no one gets left behind.
She also spoke about how being a climate activist can be lonely until you find local groups and communities to act with and support/be supported by. She encouraged people to connect with local groups and bring a pal along to events. This was nice to hear and made me appreciate the BANZAI community and events like this — of which I know we’ll hold more.
The discussion highlighted the need for places and spaces to talk and how these have diminished as funding has been squeezed. This is so critical and part of being a community; it seems to me that the more time and space we allow ourselves, the more impactful and empathetic our actions can be. Again this made me appreciate the space BANZAI is holding here and the importance of maintaining and growing this.
Whilst The Oil Machine is a sobering film, the post-film discussion was extremely valuable: such an important example of the time and place we need to engage about the greatest issues we’ve ever faced as humanity.