Our history

Switched on since 1979

CSE came into being in 1979, though in those days we were called the Urban Centre for Appropriate Technology (UCAT). We began as a sister organisation to the widely known and well-respected Centre for Alternative Technology, and have always been based in Bristol where we are putting down strong roots in the community.

In 2009 we celebrated our 30th anniversary. It was interesting to note that many of the issues facing the world in 1979 – looming economic crisis, oil price shocks, concerns about environmental limits to growth – are still with us.

Despite this we were (and still are!) able to see signs of hope: new commitments to radical cuts in UK carbon emissions; a major push on renewable energy; and an enhanced role for communities in the shift to a sustainable energy.

Simon Roberts, CSE’s Chief Executive said “We used our anniversary to share our 30 years of experience and show how the best of our work can stimulate and support the sweeping transformation needed to tackle climate change and end fuel poverty.”

And looking back on the moment a generation ago when four people got together in a pub to develop the idea which became CSE, he added: “Without their initial spark, CSE would not now be in the position where we can genuinely help to turn these national commitments into practical, deliverable initiatives and to support communities and local authorities to realise their ambitions for a low carbon future.”

To mark our 30th anniversary we published a small book called Switched on since 1979.

On 30 June we held our 30th anniversary conference at the Watershed Media Centre in Bristol. Attended by around 200 people, it was entitled Shaping a (local) sustainable energy future: the next steps and you can click here to read more

And we rounded off the year with a 30th anniversary policy workshop at the Coin Street Community Centre, Southwark, London on 30 November. This took the theme of ‘energy justice’: prospects for fairness in UK climate policy and was attended by policy-makers and industry insiders. Click here to read more

Hugh Barton is one of CSE's founders. Founding Faith is his personal reflection on the the politics, the philosophy and the people surrounding CSE's foundation in 1979. Download it here.

 

Our 25th anniversary

In 2004 we published ‘Shaping a Sustainable Energy Future’, detailing seven lessons we had learned and (as we said at the time) still struggle to apply. Download it here.

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