Although not yet compulsory, a number of companies have voluntarily been auditing and reporting on their carbon emissions, and many companies are seeing the benefits, a report commissioned by the government has revealed.
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With promises of a million low carbon jobs and investment in renewable energy, social care, housing and public transport, it makes it clear why 34% of people are considering voting for the Green Party at tomorrow’s election.
The plans for the London Array, originally proposed in 2001 and which have stood in jeopardy for the last few years have finally been approved thanks to new funding secured by the UK government in last month’s Budget.
The government has given the go ahead for a new generation of coal fired power stations with the caveat that carbon capture and storage technology must be installed by 2025.
It’s a well known fact that for the last few years, Britain’s bee populations have been in decline. With the national population of bees estimated to be down by 15%, an amount which is still increasing, the British government has pledged £10m of funding to research into the reasons behind the drop in numbers.
Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, is to release a radical target of carbon emission reductions along with the upcoming budget.
With the unveiling of 11 proposed sites for new Nuclear Power Stations announced by the UK government last week, a period of public consultation has now begun to get feedback from the British public about their thoughts and feelings regarding the locations put forward.
April 2008 saw the government declare that a small percentage of biofuels would be added to the make-up of petrol and diesel in the UK. However, revealed in a research paper released by Friends of the Earth yesterday, the biofuels may be contributing up to twice the amount of CO2 as the fossil fuels they have replaced in the fuel mix.
The extra CO2 emitted by the biofuels has been estimated at roughly 1.3 million tonnes or the equivalent of putting an extra half a million cars on the UK’s roads. The CO2 calculations are being made on how much rainforest is being destroyed to make way for the growth of biofuel crops to supply the UK. The biofuel crops are not as efficient at removing CO2 from the atmosphere as virgin rainforest, resulting in a net increase in CO2.
Living in a country where a rise in sea level of 1.5m would see your entire nation looking like the next Atlantis is bound to leave you feeling concerned that the global community is doing enough to stop climate change changing the look of the world as we know it. In light of this, President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, has pledged a 10 year target for the country to be carbon neutral.
The country wants to achieve this by installing solar panels, erecting 155 wind turbines and burning coconut husks as fuel. The country is looking for international investment to help them achieve their goals, and stated in a video broadcast to viewers at Sunday night’s premiere of Age of Stupid that if the developed countries don’t help them now, they won’t be here to be able to help the developed countries at their hour of need.
Following the broadcast, once the cheers of support for the Maldives had died down, director of the film, Franny Armstrong, welcomed Ed Miliband on stage and challenged him to answer when Britain would be carbon neutral. And Britain’s official response? We will have cut 80% of our carbon emissions by 2050. So ok, we shouldn’t complain that the government is actually making targets, and substantial ones at that. First for the cynical point of how often does the government manage to meet targets? Secondly, how, when a developing nation of 1200 islands can make a pledge to be producing no overall carbon emissions within 10 years, does a developed, technology rich country, with money, have the gaul to say we’re still going to be producing 20% of our carbon emissions after 41 years of trying. Come on Britain, is this really acceptable?
With the approaching Budget next month, environmental group Friends of the Earth are putting pressure on Gordon Brown to make a move towards making Britain a greener place, expressing concern that environmental policies should be “at the heart” of the Budget.
This pressure comes at the same time that Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband – Climate Change Secretary, and Peter Mandelson – Business Secretary, jointly hosted the Low Carbon Economy Summit, a gathering of leaders from the business sector, government representatives and other key shareholders meeting to collectively discuss the logistics of a ‘low carbon future’ and how businesses within the UK would be able to survive within this environment. Andy Atkins, Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director, commented that,
“This summit is an encouraging development, but Ministers must grasp the scale of the challenge we face. We need urgent and decisive action, not more token gestures and hot air.”
Friends of the Earth are pushing the Government to make more substantial progress towards introducing a “green industrial revolution”, claiming that investment in this sector would help form a two pronged attack on both the recession and the resulting levels of unemployment, and would also help the Government to make significant inroads into their carbon reduction targets. Additional pressure is being put on the Government to make these reductions by changing environmental practices and processes within the country, rather than by ‘buying’ carbon credits from overseas.
Although recommendations that the CCC made to the Government stated that they should be aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 34% in 2020 in relation to figures in 1990, and only increasing this to 42% once a global deal to reduce carbon emissions has been agreed, Friends of the Earth believe that the UK should be making the commitment to reduce their emissions by 42% now. They argue that in addition to being a boost to the UK’s environmental credentials later this year for the UN climate negotiations that will be taking place in Copenhagen, indications from recent scientific findings state that unless there is a reduction of at least 40% by the industrialised world as a whole by 2020, a “climate catastrophe” will be nearly inevitable.
Could the government be doing more to help the recession? Should the government be doing more with regard to sustainable housing and greener building practices on the whole? Friends of the Earth certainly think so, and it seems that maybe ministers themselves are realising that green issues are not something that will go away, but are a concern for everybody and a responsibility that people in power need to awaken to and do something about.
Last month the government announced plans to reduce household fuel bills and implement policies and processes to cut emissions, but have factored in four years for these plans to be implemented. Executive Director at Friends of the Earth, Andy Atkins said “An ambitious target to cut household emissions by a third by 2020 is certainly needed to help meet the challenge we face – but this won’t be achieved if we wait four years for major work to begin.”
To return to my first question, if the government were to invest money into small scale energy production for new and existing building projects, this could be just the lifeline factories and their employees have been waiting for. Throwing money into failing industries that nobody can afford to buy into just postpones the inevitable and doesn’t offer much hope long term for employees, never mind tax payers and the economy as a whole. However investment in key areas such as solar and wind technologies would give purpose to the factories, meaning they don’t end up being shut down, gives advances to greener technology to help the government reach targets for emissions reductions, and would also potentially create thousands of jobs. Win-win?