The success of two recent events, the decision to reject plans to frack in Lancashire and the recent landmark ruling in the Dutch courts to accelerate action on climate change, symbolise a significant shift towards people being able to have a real impact on decisions being made by policy makers on the environment.
They suggest a move towards a true democracy where the people can mobilise to make a difference in their communities.
Fracking in Lancashire
Local councillors rejected Cuadrilla’s application to frack at Preston New Road, near Blackpool. This decision was made across party lines due to the local councillors’ belief that these plans would have an ‘unacceptable’ impact on the local landscape and residents.
Although this decision could still be overruled at the appeal stage, this is an important event. This represents local councillors taking action which supports local residents in their fight against big companies who are unconcerned with the environmental impact on local people and landscapes.
Case against the Dutch government
Following a recent court case, the Dutch government has been ordered to cut its carbon emissions by at least 25% within the next five years.
Previous to this ruling the only legal requirements for states to take action on climate change were international treaties. This ruling suggests that the state has an obligation to its citizens, not just other states, to have a positive impact on the environment. By framing the case as a human rights issue, the focus is on the impact of climate change on Dutch residents. There is hope that this case could spark similar legal action on climate change in other countries.
Taking action on climate change
There two examples represent ways in which people are taking action on climate change locally. It is becoming increasing clear that people want to have a say in decisions impacting on the future of the environment.
According to a recent study by BHESCo partner Climates, a social network for people taking practical action on climate change, 90% of people want the policy makers to take ambitious action to tackle climate changeat when they meet in Paris for the UNFCCC conference in Paris in December.
Community energy groups, such as BHESCo, are one way to take action with minimal risk involved. Being part of an energy cooperative means being able to have a say in the future of energy generation in your local community. Since half of us believe that it is our individual responsibility to take action, you can become a member of BHESCo to reduce your carbon footprint and tackle climate change.
On the 4th June 2015, the Chancellor, George Osborne announced £4 ½ billion of cuts including £70 million to be cut from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) budget.
The Carbon Brief released a report previous to this on the 3rd June 2015 highlighting the limited scope for cuts within the DECC and the potential impact if cuts did take place.
With the Conservative government promising to decrease public spending, whilst protecting health, pensions and education, unprotected departments such as the DECC are likely to be the focus for cuts.
Impact of cuts
Carbon Brief analysed the 2013/14 budget of the DECC which was £3.4 billion. The money spent on managing the UK’s military nuclear waste and decommissioning legacy accounts for 65% of this budget. The core departmental priorities accounts for the remaining 34%.
The Carbon brief concluded that 87% of the overall budget was essential and would not be eligible for cuts. This 87% is made up of costs relating to the nuclear legacy, international agreements and legal liabilities from formerly nationalised energy industries. Therefore, 13% of the budget could potentially be cut from the DECC’s budget. Currently, 2% (£70 million) of their budget has already been cut.
The impact of these cuts will mean there is less money to dedicate to research on energy and climate change as well as schemes to help people out of fuel poverty.
One example of a scheme which the Carbon Brief suggests is likely to be cut is Green Deal. This a government scheme lead by the DECC which helps people find the best way to pay for energy saving improvements they want to make to their homes including energy grants, like the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund. These improvements can include insulation, heating, double glazing and renewable energy sources which can help reduce long-term energy costs. Without the support of the government, less people will have access to the funding needed to make important improvements to their homes.
Importance of community energy
When the government is demonstrating that they are willing to make cuts to energy and climate change services, the need for community energy projects becomes clear.
Community energy projects which favour renewable energy sources can help to create a more secure energy future for the community in addition to helping reduce the impact of climate change.
Access to cost-efficient local energy benefits all members of the community but is especially essential to people who are living in fuel poverty.
BHESCo is hosting an event to give you more information about our Co-operative, what we have accomplished so far, the renewable energy and energy efficiency projects we are investing in, our innovative business model and most importantly – how you can participate.
Be the Change You Want to See in This World
4 June 2015, 6pm – 9pm
Brighthelm Centre, North Road, BN1 1YD
BHESCo is an ethical, not for profit social enterprise aiming to become a community owned energy supplier. Our business model helps to lower energy prices sustainably. Pop in to our event, meet the Board of Directors of the Co-operative, learn more about how you can earn up to 10 times what you are currently earning on your savings by investing in a Co-operative that will pave the way for energy groups across the country.
THIS IS A FREE EVENT
30 Mar 2015
Everyone will get an opportunity for their question to be asked, questions will be submitted before the event.
Through this event, we aim to:
– Encourage young people/first time voters to engage
– Gain a better understanding of the l…ocal candidates stance on environmental issues
– Encourage lively debate and awareness of the issues
– Give you an opportunity to question your potential MP’s
The event is sponsored by Community Energy South – a new umbrella group for local community energy groups across Sussex and surrounding counties.
Ticket Prices : £5 and concession £3
Doors and bar open: 7.00pm
Deadline for submitting questions: 7.30pm
Debate starts: 8.00pm (prompt – please be in your seats!)
A Zero Carbon Society
Thursday, 26 February 2015
6 – 8:30pm
registration starts at 5:30pm
Sallis Benney Theatre, Grand Parade, University of Brighton
Introductions and keynote speech will be made by Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion
Come watch the presentation and Q&A by Paul Allen, contributing author to the Zero Carbon Britain report, the Centre for Alternative Technology’s (CAT) flagship project that details how a modern, zero emissions society is possible using technologies that are available today.
Roundtable discussions will be lead by local experts in the field of Transport, Energy, Housing and Food from the Food Partnership, the Science Policy Research Unit from the University of Sussex, C Change sustainability group from the University of Brighton and the Bike Train.
The discussions will be followed by networking with drinks and nibbles to fuel your discussions. This is a great opportunity to meet and speak to people who are on the frontlines of the transition to a zero carbon society. Create links and share best practice with the local community during this inspiring event. Book your place for free to avoid disappointment.