There are 10 item(s) tagged with the keyword "renewable energy".
How do you build a new greener social, economic and environmental operating system at a local authority level? One small step at a time but with an unrelenting focus on the bigger picture of why these small steps matter.
That larger vision starts with the Climate Change Act, which commits the UK to being net zero by 2050. The trajectory of progress along the route map to that goal is monitored by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) through regular updates; the recent sixth carbon budget report being one of these. The majority of Council’s now have climate change declarations, which set out the scale of their ambitions, with many now having action plans in place to commence operationalising their drive towards carbon neutrality.
Most in local government are committed to the achievement of the aspirations behind tackling climate change but want to know what they need to do within their own service area. The five pillars outlined in the CCC report for action by local government buildings; transport; waste; land use; and electricity generation are a useful lens to look at this through.
COVID – 19 has had a polarising effect on society, organisations and individuals within them, in so many ways. At one extreme we have people who want to argue that staff and services should all shift today into cyberspace, never to have human contact ever again, whilst at the other we have those who believe that this sort of leap of blind faith will lead to the biggest waste of time, resources and effort since preparations for the millennium bug. The answer of course probably sits somewhere in between.
Faced with the prospect of a potential return to mass unemployment in the coming months and with fewer resources than ever, local councils are going to have some major decisions to make to prioritise what little they have available, to ensure better outcomes for local communities.
A hugely important invest to save opportunity that delivers on so many cross-cutting issues is to give some renewed focus to tackling the climate emergency, whilst attempting to build back better and create a sustainable local economic recovery. There are a number of ways we can do this which create significant numbers of jobs, including apprenticeships, boost local supply chains and deliver significant energy savings, whilst alleviating fuel poverty for many.
It is inarguable that the last decade in local government was tough financially. Every public policy initiative, every council budget was seemingly dominated by relentless austerity. That has not gone away. However, with climate emergency declarations by local councils now standing at 65% coverage across the UK it would appear that this, not austerity, is our zeitgeist for the next decade.
Declaring an emergency is only a statement of intent; a recognition that urgent action is needed. Some have found that their passionate pledges in the council chamber can give birth to a much starker reality. Action on climate change is devoid of quick fixes. As a first step councils need to establish what is within the scope of their declaration. Is this just about decarbonising councils’ services or is it broader? Looking at supply chains or sub-regional economies? And what pledges can be made about those areas where the council is not simply the sole-trader such as municipal airports or transport infrastructure which invokes national agencies? When we start to peel back the covers issues may seem insurmountable. But this is not the case if action is properly planned.
In early July the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published the initial findings of Roger Witcomb’s investigation into the UK energy markets. With the average UK household currently spending around £1,200 on energy each year, energy prices have turned up the heat on politicians.
The Witcomb findings suggest that we need to make the energy market work better for consumers. But do we really believe that after a 75% rise in electricity and 125% on gas prices over the past decade we can simply tweak the medicine of market regulation in order to make those markets work better? I would beg to differ.
Following on from the launch of APSE Energy at Westminster in June, it was the Scottish launch event in Edinburgh today.
The theme was about distributed energy where local authorities can act as suppliers within local areas along with partners.
Waste not, want not
Whilst much of the focus of the graph of doom theorists has been on adult social care and children’s services, local authorities haven’t forgotten that they also continue to have statutory responsibilities for collecting waste and that this waste needs to be disposed of in a cost effective and environmentally friendly way.
Huge efforts are being made to eradicate waste in the first instance by encouraging a reduction in unnecessary waste and the reuse, recycling and recovery of any materials of value that can be derived from the waste stream, prior to going to landfill. With this in mind authorities are looking to develop integrated strategies that deal with all stages of the waste hierarchy.
I recently had an opportunity to examine Barcelona City Council’s approach to waste management and found an impressive approach that also links closely to wider ambitions around renewable energy.
Hardly a day goes by of late without headlines about gas and electricity price hikes or political rows over energy policies.
Ensuring a sustainable, affordable energy supply is a priority for councils, communities and economies and can be a way of demonstrating real community leadership. As well as needing to cut costs as major energy users, positive action can help tackle fuel poverty and carbon emissions, promote local jobs and investment and ensure a secure power supply for the future. Councils up and down the country - including Stockton-on-Tees, Dudley, Reading, Portsmouth and Southampton to name but a handful – are leading impressive energy initiatives at present.
Someone who has influenced my thinking on local government greatly over the past couple of decades has this week published a new book, 'A Guide to Solar PV Projects - in Local Government and the Public Sector'. The first books of Stephen Cirell's that I read were thick local government law encyclopaedias around Compulsory Competitive Tendering, followed by similar tomes on Best Value, then the Private Finance Initiative and Charging and Trading. So how does someone go from this background into the arena of climate change, renewable energy and energy efficiency? And do they know anything about the topic?
Participated in meeting of Greenlink today in London. This is the body bringing together organisations involved in the parks and open spaces sector, an area that is being particularly hit hard by cuts at present. Many of the organisations present where third sector and social enterprises, who depend heavily on local authority funding and contracts to survive. This is a point the group has pursued at a recent lobbying meeting with DCLG Minister Andrew Stunnell, along with concerns on skill erosion and a reduction in perceived Government supportiveness for the importance of quality green space.
Today has been one of those days where your diary catches up with you, it’s my third flight in 3 days and this one is delayed! I am supposed to be speaking at an energy expo at the Olympia in London with Steve Cirell but as it becomes apparent that I am going to miss the start we exchange slides by email.