Potential to save up to £20 million annually
A new campaign, launched today by the Carbon Trust, offers students and teachers an opportunity to combat climate change by cutting the energy they use in school. The scheme could save schools and further education (FE) colleges in England with high energy bills up to £20 million on their collective energy bill each year – unlocking vital cash for extra resources for students and staff.
Alongside the cash saving, the Carbon Trust’s new campaign is set to cut the carbon footprint of these schools and FE colleges in England by up to 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year – equivalent to the entire annual emissions of the City of Durham.
Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test, argued in the House of Commons climate change debate last Thursday, that the capping and trading of carbon emissions was critical in the fight against climate change but that for it to work effectively there needed to be strict quotas.
Dr. Whitehead said:
“In the context of environmental taxation, does the hon. Gentleman accept that capping and trading carbon emissions is a development from taxation, in which the market undertakes the work that taxation might otherwise do? Would he include in his analysis what is happening to European emissions trading and will he be active in ensuring that the emissions trading system 2008-12 really works?”
Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test, rattled Lib Dems and Tories alike with his probing questions in the parliamentary debate on green taxes.
Dr Whitehead is clear that we need a coherent answer to climate change that encompasses taxation, regulation and trading arrangements. One or the other would not be enough to tackle climate change head on. However, that is all that was offered in the climate change debate on Monday.
Last March I came across a Sunday Times news report about the businessman Johan Eliasch. Johan had just bought a part of the Brazilian rainforest larger than the size of London. His goal was to protect any more of the forest from being destroyed by illegal logging.
Like lots of Sunday Times readers, I know that the world is almost at the tipping point on climate change beyond which there is no return. We must all act; last week’s World Bank report by Sir Nicholas Stern is the latest stark warning to world leaders, especially George W Bush, that the climate change issue cannot be stalled by claiming economic competitiveness would be damaged by taking action now. I believe that if we are to save our planet a totally new kind of politics is required.
Johan’s rainforest estate comprises more than 400,000 acres of trees. I thought I might stretch my resources to buy 40 acres, a sniff in comparison with Johan’s impact. But it occurred to me that there were out there tens of millions of ordinary people like me who would jump at the opportunity of “buying” forest to save the planet. I e-mailed Johan asking if he would be interested in setting up an international trust to protect the rainforest, which acts as the world’s lungs. I have a certain track record of trying to get ideas adopted and know from bitter experience that it can take 20 years to sell an idea to the political bureaucracy. Dealing with Johan was quite different: within 20 seconds he had replied and we had fixed a planning meeting. Cool Earth, Johan’s title for our great adventure, was born from that initial meeting.
Emily Thornberry is the Mayor of London’s latest convert to his new green buses. After having a ride on one of the Mayor’s test fleet this week, Emily said: “these new green buses are fantastic and I’m going to campaign to bring them to Islington. I wanted to drive this one back to Islington immediately but I was told they’re not ready yet!”
The new green buses are cleaner and quieter than regular buses. They run largely on an automatically-recharging battery which is topped-up by small car-sized engine which kicks in when necessary. This cuts poisonous nitrogen oxide by almost 90% and uses 40% less fuel, as well as cutting noise dramatically.
Emily went on one of the six new buses being trialled in central London with a group of local councillors and residents from Islington. When asked if they thought these buses should come to Islington first, the verdict was unanimously “yes”, and so Emily has launched a ‘Green Buses for Islington’ campaign to ask Ken Livingstone to put the first round of green buses on routes in Islington.