Voting in the General election

In the United Kingdom today around 24 million people will walk, cycle or drive to a polling station – in a Church Hall, Community Centre or in a school and cast their votes in a General Election and in a local government election. There will probably be a change of Government and a change of Prime Minister but the electorate has a habit of making pundits look foolish. Continue reading

Time for the climate change talk to stop

To permit the climate to change or not to permit the climate to change; that is the question. You can read, see and hear about the importance of address climate change every day. Most of the talking is done by scientists and politicians. The former group can see the evil of climate change that threatens us and the latter group do the talking, but the talking by the politicians give rise to very little action. Continue reading

The energy and environmental policies of the Conservative Party

Every political party wants to appear to have “green” policies these days. Green is the new black. The policies of the Government in the United Kingdom are well defined but inchoate, and more observed in their talk than in their action. They talk the talk but do not, when push comes to shove walk the walk. Continue reading

Mr Brown’s new deal for the environment

In November Genersys hosted the Green Party’s launch of the “Green New Deal” Policy and the Green Party Leader, Caroline Lucas, explained her party’s policy of a plan for creating 100,000 new jobs by substantial investment in renewables and other environmentally friendly processes. I thought that this policy was exactly right and called upon all political parties to have a consensus about this. Several weeks later I provided some evidence and calculations of the number of new jobs that take up in the solar thermal field would provide, which the Solar Trade Association asked me to do and which I understand they have now sent to the Director of Heat at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
I should now turn to Mr Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister. I have criticised him in the past on various policies but in 2008 he did what I have urging for seven years and created the Department of Energy and Climate Change, so we can expect some better joined up thinking from government and their officials on these keys matters. I can also hand Mr Brown another plaudit (hard to win but very easy to lose) for his adoption of the Green Party’s policies on a Green New Deal.
Mr Brown is now talking about substantial investment in renewables as part of a larger public works policy, which he expects will drive the recession away and create new jobs. On the climate change side we have so far invested (as a nation) pitifully small amounts in addressing climate change but the recession now provides an opportunity to enable all developed nations to create a lower carbon infrastructure.
Logically there should be investment in these key areas to create a nation that emits much less carbon than at present. Please note that I am not suggesting that we can eliminate all carbon emissions but that we should do what we can to reduce emissions, rather than leaving it to “choice” and to a very few good people doing more than their bit.
o Microgeneration: solar thermal is the key here and there should be a plan to install solar water and/or space heating on one million dwellings a year; the carbon saving will be at least half a million tonnes each year. In addition there should be a plan to install photovoltaic panels on one hundred thousand offices a year. The savings would be less, but still very worthwhile.
o Large scale renewables; I favour building small new gas fired power stations close to city centres, so that the heat emitted as part of the electrical generation (40% of the energy used to make electricity is wasted at heat) can be captured and recycled as heat for buildings and, where suitable, for industrial processes. I also favour the building for more wind turbines, but not small turbines in city centres or in the suburbs.
o Transport; here there is an opportunity to make very large savings but it will require a radical reorganisation of the delivery of public transport. We need more train services, more bus services but most of all we need cheaper public transport. It should be almost free at the point of use. I would also favour much more stringent taxes on large vehicles especially the gas guzzlers.
o Carbon capture and storage needs to be given a far higher priority than it has at present. The Government seems to think that the “competition” it has organised and which the energy companies are participating may solve the problem; it will not. What may solve the problem is international co-operation on the scale and with the resources of the Manhattan Project, which created the Atomic bomb in 1945 by collecting the finest research, engineering and theoretical minds which then managed to create a bomb before the Axis powers could.
o It might be a good time now to abolish all the various carbon trading schemes; I cannot see that they will add any actual emission savings in the present climate as industry scramble for survival.
o Finally, and this is perhaps the easiest and most cost effective thing that could be done, is to take the spending of money on energy saving and renewables away from the energy companies who collect the money from consumers for these purposes. Perhaps I am being simplistic, but the energy companies sell energy (mostly from fossil fuel) and that is how they make their money. You do not put the fox in charge of the chicken, or turkeys in charge of the voting fro Christmas.
Overall Mr Brown’s new deal is very welcome. We now have to see what actually happens and whether he has the resolve and determination to see these ideas turn into actual measures.

Training the new eco warriors

At last week’s at Green Party launch of their “Green New Deal” campaign in Genersys’ London offices, we took the opportunity of filming me and the leader of the Green Party, Dr Caroline Lucas discussing solar thermal. In fact in my enthusiasm I see, having looked at the clip, it was more of a speech by me extolling the endless virtues of solar to a patient Dr Lucas, rather than a discussion. Continue reading