Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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I no longer blog on this site. You can now find me, my general blogs, and the work I am doing researching my forthcoming book on imagination, on my new blog.

28 Feb 2006

Eco-Build ’06. Talk No.1. Stephen Tindale – Greenpeace

**Eco-Build ’06. Talk No.1. Stephen Tindale – Greenpeace**

tindale*Over the next 3 days I will report on 3 of the best talks I attended at EcoBuild. While my notes are not comprehensive, I hope they will convey something that you will find useful*. Stephen Tindale is the Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, and his talk was called Tackling Climate Change. Much of his talk was arguing the case the climate change is a reality, which I won’t talk too much about here as I am assuming the if you are visiting **** you are already familiar with the concept. He argued that rather than a long term problem, there is actually a very small window of opportunity in which to be able to address the problem. What interested me most was at the end of his talk when he addressed energy use in buildings.

Buildings, he said, are responsible for over 50% of carbon emissions in the UK. Why is it that when Scandinavian countries can address this challenge in their buildings the UK is so inept at doing so? The UK Government is currently preparing a Sustainable Building Code, which has rather got lost in reviews and consultation (the one thing the Blair administration has excelled at). When it does appear, Tindale said, it should be mandatory, rather than seen merely as guidance. It will also require rigorous and well resourced enforcement to be of any use.

td2He then made a very passionate case for decentralized energy, something that Greenpeace argued for in its recent excellent report of the same name. In our current system 2/3rds of primary energy is wasted, much of it as waste heat up power station chimneys. He said that if the Government were to move from 5% CHP (the present amount) to 50% (Greenpeace’s recommendation), it would be the single most important energy and climate policy.

It should also be mandatory for all new buildings to integrate renewables, Merton in London has set a requirement of 10% of the energy requirement of the building, but Tindale argued there is no reason why it couldn’t be 50%. It should also be compulsory, he argued, that all new developments incorporate CHP.

But surely all this would be very expensive, burdensome for industry and so on. Not, he said, given the scale of the challenge. We have to get a grip on this problem (and on peak oil of course, not that he mentioned that unfortunately). The moral case for regulation is very strong at this point , waiting for self-regulation is not an option. It may be more costly (although not necessarily so) but only by a few percent.

He also advocated the use of fiscal incentives, reducing Council Tax for energy efficient buildings, or buildings that integrate renewables. If we can start to link house prices with energy and efficiency then we can get the middle classes whose favourite topic of conversation at dinner parties is the value of their houses discussing energy efficiency. He was a very good speaker, arguing passionately for urgent action and putting forward some useful solutions. He didn’t make the link between local energy, local food, local currency, local manufacturing, but maybe that’s one for a different lecture.