We need to do more to reach UK carbon zero. The U.K. was the first country to commit to net zero by 2050, but this is just a target, and, as we have seen with other targets, talk is cheap. It now turns out that the Conservative government’s ‘green homes grant’ will probably help just 124,000 households, according to the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, far short of the target of 600,000 households. The missed target is because the Government is pulling the plug on funding. Are the Government’s environmental promises empty? 40% of UK carbon emissions come from households, so it’s vital that our country transforms the way people’s homes are heated. Green home grants should be enhanced, not slashed. The Gulf Stream is at its weakest in a millennium, due to climate change, according to new data published in Feb 2021 from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research, putting the UK at risk of cold stormy winters and summer heatwaves – events that would cost lives and money. As a nation we must act now to avert the climate disaster, as its within our collective power to cut emissions.
Locally, we could also do more. At the Local Plan Consultation for UDC on 24 February, a researcher from Newcastle Uni suggested ideas to support our rural economy, including a ‘Community Smart Building Project’ (which has been trialled in Northumberland where there are over a thousand community rural buildings). Rural buildings have big energy costs for heating and lighting, so the project aimed to install renewable energy, battery storage and intelligent building management in 12 buildings (village halls and churches and other public rural buildings), with equipment owned and maintained by a Community Interest Company, to minimise energy costs and give all profits back to the community, linking the systems together to create a distributed power plant that enables management of energy by providing balancing services, creating an income stream and jobs for rural communities in a circular local economy. Using such ethical green investment would greatly benefit our local area – I hope our local council will explore this idea.