It’s a new year and a fresh start for the Energy & Climate Change Group. We have many new faces and a chance for a renewed focus. 2010 saw the group actively involved in promoting 10:10, a campaign to persuade every sector of society to reduce their carbon emissions by 10% in one year. The project won the support of Birmingham City Council, as well as many other local organisations and individuals. The challenge will be to continue the emissions cuts into 2011; 10% is easy, another 10% on top of that is much harder! The group have also put together a comprehensive response to the City Council’s Climate Change Action Plan, and will continue to foster open dialogue with them.
The measures that need to be taken to meet the targets set in the Climate Change Act will all contribute to this, so it’s vital that we show the way in ensuring that government policies at local and national level aren’t in conflict with this.
The outcome of the 2010 Cancun Climate Change Conference was similar to Copenhagen. There was no binding treaty and the pledges made are very likely to lead us to pass two degrees of warming in any case, which will commit us to runaway climate change. Birmingham Friends of the Earth filled a coach to take people down to the Wave in 2009, as did many other organisations in the area and we need to harness that sense of urgency and collaborative energy to push for a strong global deal again this year.
However, we must remember that the work we do to prevent climate change will be just as vital in a warmer, more unpredictable world. Resources will be scarcer, which means we must use them more efficiently. We must waste less. We will need to be much more self-sufficient in energy and food production. We must promote locally produced products and recycled goods. It is important to ensure that the city and its residents are prepared for the unavoidable impacts of climate change.
Heating the 440,000 homes in Birmingham is responsible for a third of the city’s carbon footprint. This must be improved if the Council is to meet its target of 60% cut in carbon emissions by 2026. The Warm Homes Campaign was set up to tackle the energy waste in our leaky homes. There are still many poorly insulated homes in Birmingham, especially in rented accommodation, and it is estimated that 40% of the worst insulated properties could be improved for less than £1,500. Fitting Smart Meters to homes showing how much energy is being used, and at what cost to the consumer, is a must if we are to achieve the reductions we need.
As one of the new leaders of the group, I will be reaching out to Birmingham’s other environmental groups. I would like to see a much closer co operation among the separate organisations. We can achieve more if we have a united voice and work together to achieve our common goals. I will be contacting our three universities with a view to having student representation at our meetings and upcoming events.
Do you feel angry and disempowered that all the effects of climate change are obvious, yet not enough is being done about it? Come along to one of our meetings and harness that energy to join people who feel more should and can be done.