15 July 2009

Low carbon transition plan

The morning news is full of low carbon stories in advance of the UK Govenment publishing their Low Carbon Transition Plan to meet the ambitious 34% carbon reduction targets by 2020 . The aim is to reduce the country's dependency on fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas which produce a lot of carbon dioxide, and to switch to renewables such as wind, solar, water and biomass. This switch is not going to be easy in a country that is so hooked on oil and coal. Renewables are not such a convenient source of energy, being much smaller in scale and by necessity being located in places that are generally away from the end consumer. Although the efficiency is getting better, the cost per unit of energy from these sources is much higher than the conventional energy sources, so the cost of electricity may rise . Other measures will probably include financial incentives to improve insulation, smart meters in every home, cycling and electric vehicle initiatives.

Several of the BBC news items featured the village of Ashton Hayes, a village near Birmingham with the ambitious plan to become Britain's first carbon neutral community. I have been following since the project was set up in 2006 and will watch the news items from the village today with interest. For more on the scheme visit their webpage http://www.goingcarbonneutral.co.uk/. If more communities follow their lead, the transition to a low carbon economy may be much easier. And mention of the word 'transition' leads me to the Transition Towns movement. The movement want to encourage communities to move towards a more sustainable future by reducing their carbon footprints and becoming more self-reliant on food, energy, health care, jobs and economics. The leading light in the UK is the town of Totnes in Devon. There websiteis an interesting read: http://totnes.transitionnetwork.org

Another energy source is nuclear - always contentious but probably a necessary evil. Although our own nuclear energy stations are being wound down, we are still dependent on nuclear energy to meet the demands. Many people are unaware that we buy in electricity from France, a country that generates about 90 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power stations.

As usual Ecoscene has a fabulous selection on images to illustrate any story on low carbon initiatives and a light box of images can be found here : http://www.ecoscene2.captureweb.co.uk/lbshow.php?lightboxid=173521027109

Watch out for updates on this story once the white paper is published.

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