Bill Clinton, Stephen Hawking, Ed Miliband, Prince Charles, Sir David King – quiz question: what do they all have in common? Well, they’ve all opined that global warming and climate change is the greatest threat to our planet that presently exists. I agree with them. And that’s why I have spent a fair amount of my time in Parliament on matters relating to this threat, and what we in the UK should do about it. And as soon as you look at it, it becomes obvious that the key to action in the UK is reducing radically the carbon emissions we put out – so that we can meet the ambitious targets we have set ourselves through the Climate Change Act to cut emissions by 80% by 2050, by 36% by 2030 and to keep to five year carbon budgets that ensure the downward pressure on emissions.
And the key to those emission reductions lies in the way we create, deliver and use energy in our homes and our economy. If we radically reduce the 30 odd per cent of emissions that result just from the operation of power stations (much of it coming from wasted fuel as we convert it to power in a spectacularly inefficient way) and if we radically decrease the energy used in our homes (also responsible for 30% of emissions) by making insulation and home energy use far more effective, then we will have gone a long way to meeting our emission targets in the UK.
That’s why I think the way we use our energy, where we get it from, and what we do with it is a vital part of any plan to decarbonise our economy. And that is why I have also spent a great deal of time in Parliament pressing for better ways to use it – through renewables, microgeneration, energy efficiency and network delivery efficiencies.
There are many things happening in the energy field right now – some good some bad, some plain alarming. Many of the decisions on energy use that will potentially lock us in to a more dispersed, low carbon energy future or force us along high carbon centralised routes for a generation are upon us now – and we need to get them right, in Parliament and locally. That’s what this blog will be (mostly) concentrating on. I hope it will be of some use in the debates we will need to have on where we go next if we are to achieve and sustain, a low carbon, energy efficient future.