How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Climate Change

This is a guest blog by John Taylor. John is a climate change and energy specialist and currently works for the Greater South East Energy Hub, helping LEPs and Local Authorities across the South East of England accelerate the delivery of local energy projects. Prior to this he studied for a PG Dip Advanced Energy and Environmental Studies at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, and was a contributing researcher on CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain report. He also gives public talks to raise awareness of climate change solutions and is an advocate for the community energy sector. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organisation or any other group or individual.

Edit: I tend to get lost in detail when I write. When I read this piece John had written I found it so refreshing that I asked his permission to publish it here.

The stages of grief include denial, bargaining, anger, depression and finally acceptance, and grief comes about when your expectations of the future are suddenly taken away from you. With the School Strikes and Extinction Rebellion, more and more people are being confronted with the realities of climate change and with the potential loss of what we love about the natural world and our current way of life. As a result, I’ve noticed a rise in those first 4 stages, whether through the protests or the confessions of despair and anxiety across social media. All are healthy reactions, but, if we are really going to solve this crisis we need to help everyone move on to that last stage, acceptance. For then we can refocus that anxiety and anger into something determined and hopeful, and recreate a new vision of the future that can be healing, inspiring and worth striving for.

So what does this better future look like? What does a net zero world actually mean? How do we get there? It starts by recognising that the way we live today is not as good as it gets.

To get things started, I’ve listed what I would like to see as a way forward. Everything here already exists today, we just need scale it up.

John’s Climate Emergency Action Plan

1. All new homes built to the BRE Renewable House standard (design from 2009!) http://www.bre.co.uk/…/Innovatio…/RenewableHouseBrochure.pdf

2. An Energiesprong style energy retrofit scheme for whole neighbourhoods where homeowners pay for comfort, not fuel with the cost of improvements recouped through the savings on their energy bills over 20-30 years. https://www.energiesprong.uk/how-does-it-work

3. Farm systems and landscapes optimised to maximise carbon sequestration whilst also producing food, building materials for 1 &2 and renewable electricity from solar and onshore wind. http://www.organicresearchcentre.com/…

4. Phased scrappage scheme starting with most polluting petrol and diesel cars/vans with low interest finance for electric cars/vans or subsidised public transport season tickets.

5. Similar scheme to convert HGVs and buses to run on hydrogen, biogas or electricity.

6. Energy cooperatives based around substations providing all those connected with community level renewable energy generation and smart grid optimisation through batteries and demand side flexibility management. (links with 2) https://openlv.net/…/owen-square-community-energy-initiati…/

7. More offshore wind farms and tidal energy linked to the National Grid and hydrogen generation hubs (existing nuclear fleet linked to hydrogen production as well to provide flexibility).

8. All the above financed through Community Municipal Green Bonds and Community Shares via ISAs and pension funds. https://baumaninstitute.leeds.ac.uk/…/FinancingForSociety-L…

This list is could and does go on… flights, clothes, diet all have a part to play. As the saying goes, the best way to predict the future is to create it.

If you want to check out your own personal carbon footprint I recommend: https://footprint.wwf.org.uk

If you’re interested in how all this fits into the UK’s Net Zero advice from the Committee on Climate Change visit: https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Net-Zero-Chris-Stark-Presentation.pdf

If you want to dive deeper then there are some great resources from CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain (which started researching how a Net Zero UK would look back in 2007, it’d be interesting to compare how it’s actually panning out) here : https://www.cat.org.uk/info-resources/zero-carbon-britain/

Westmill Wind and Solar Coop

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