Tag: Climate change

For your average closet climate change denier or otherwise-stuck-in-the-mud politician, the Balance is a great weapon to deploy against evidence-based policy. “Of course we want to tackle climate change”, the argument goes, “but we must strike a balance between this and [insert contradictory aim here]”. If they understand the science of climate change, and have read the work of the Committee for Climate Change, they’d quickly realise they were asking for a balance between right and wrong, or more correctly and plainly for the wrong policy; you can’t really find a middle ground. So lately we see lots of senior Tories running this trope in an attempt to rein in the green public face of the Conservative Party (despite the party demoting most of its green lights to the back benches). Riding the resurgence of denial in the Telegraph and Spectator, these MPs are boldly defending their right to ignorance.…

Read More Can you balance right and wrong?

My paper about BedZED in was published in the Environment and Urbanization journal last month, there’s a free PDF for download. Aside from the many nitty gritty technical lessons learned from the UK’s first and still-largest Zero Carbon development, I took away two basic lessons for green policy. The first is that good urban design really can influence behaviour, making for a better sense of community and more environmentally friendly lifestyles. The old rule of thumb – make good choices the default and easy, bad choices more effort – bore fruit. The second is that the prevalent “save you money” view of selling sustainability needs a good kick in the teeth. Of course bill savings can be a good motivation for some people, but where did BedZED residents spend their savings? Flights; the now well-documented rebound effect at work. If you save money somewhere, do you automatically think “Great, I’ll…

Read More How close are we to zero carbon communities?

This one is a no-brainer for blog action day. The UK’s Committee for Climate Change has called for it, Boris Johnson of all people includes it in his air quality strategy, and it will help people save money as energy bills rise. The Government should set-up a boiler scrappage scheme (and you should sign the petition). Let people trade in old, inefficient boilers for new ones, or at least to get a massive discount. They did it for cars to help an ailing industry, why not do it with boilers to promote jobs across the country, cut carbon and help vulnerable households? This fun little gimmick is of course one small piece of the unprecedented housing puzzle. How exactly do we cut emissions from heating, cooling and electricity by 90-100% across all the nation’s buildings in the next twenty to thirty years? The technical challenges are big enough, and with…

Read More Scrap those old boilers, politicians

I took some time out of my brief in-between-jobs holiday to speak to some students from Alleyn’s School in East Dulwich. The Geography Society invited me to talk about climate change and the Green Party. What do you say in 25 minutes to young people who areĀ  amongst the highest consumers in Southwark, but also potentially dedicated citizens who can do a lot to tackle the problem? I think my talk got a bit confused, but perhaps that’s OK because I really wanted to help them understand just how complicated the whole topic is. Beware the doomsayers who claim there’s nothing we can do, but also beware optimists who offer the solution in the form of ten easy steps! On reflection, these would be my two main messages to young people. First, recognise that climate change fundamentally changes the way we think about politics and our personal lives. Just as…

Read More Climate change in 25 minutes

What a bank holiday! Saturday morning out leafletting for the European elections with Jenny Jones, followed by an afternoon in the wonderful Bussey Building with the Peckham Power Company. Never mind the sandwiches, the sun brought out a great mix of people, including a policy expert from DECC no less. Anna from the PPC took us through the mix of energy we currently use — nice to see people quite so shocked by the proportion of energy ’embodied’ in the stuff we buy; next, the mix of energy we could physically generate in the UK; and finally some realisation of the challenge both for the UK and for Peckham in responding to the triple crunch of the recession, climate change and peaking fossil fuel reserves. The recipe for Peckham and The Lane area? That’ll be lots of refurb, solar thermal & PV, a ground-source heat pump system under Peckham Rye…

Read More Power for Peckham

I cheap mlb jerseys gave up flying a few years ago, and my carbon footprint is 46% lower than the UK average. I really like this calculator and action plan tool, which helps individuals work out how they of can reduce their carbon emissions and ecological footprint. But I’ve gone past the suggestion that it’s our individual responsibility to somehow reduce our impacts down to a sustainable level on our own. Not cheap jerseys only is this message impossible to sell to anyone outside the “keen green” demographic (because it’s too hard); it’s also fundamentally wrong! Here are 3 reasons why: We won’t change people’s values by being angelic, we merely reinforce how different we are to the norm, which is heavily marketed by government and business. It’s good to avoid charges of hypocrisy, but it’s also important to explain cheap jerseys with humility why you — like most other…

Read More Why I’m not an eco-angel