Manchester Green Summit – Hosted by Andy Burnham

Posted by on Mar 22, 2018 in Articles, News | 0 comments

It was a privilege to participate in the Manchester Green Summit yesterday as the event was heavily over-subscribed. I found the meeting very stimulating with a wide range of views about how Manchester could become the “Greenest” City Region in the UK. Here are my semi-random thoughts on the event…

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, started proceeding by setting out an aspiration for Manchester to become a zero-carbon city  – although he did not pledge a specific date to achieve this, he did suggest that we should be bold and commit to achieving this at least a decade earlier than the current 2050 target date.

The reason we need this level of urgency was starkly presented by Kevin Anderson from the Tyndal Centre. His brilliant talk cut through all the complexities surrounding emissions goals and reminded us that there is only one thing that matters – the absolute CO2 emissions that we put into the atmosphere. According to research by him and his colleagues we (Greater Manchester) have a budget of just 71 million tonnes of CO2 in order to meet the 2 ºC target we signed up to in the Paris Agreement.  At current rates of emissions we will spend this in just 5-6 years.

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UK Sustainability Expo – shame on you

Posted by on Mar 9, 2018 in News, Uncategorized | 0 comments

This Monday I received an email from John Bent, Event Manager with the The UK Sustainability Expo.

“I was wondering if you would like to discuss the possibility of speaking at The UK Sustainability Expo which is a conference and expo being held on the 26th June in the Ricoh Arena, Coventry”

I am quite regularly approached to speak at events and make a point of carving out the time to attend a few engagements each year. So I checked the date out and responded that I would be available to speak on that date and would look forward to discussing their requirements and seeing if I could cover the subject-matter. It was an event I was unfamiliar with and I like the idea of speaking to new audiences.

A couple of days later I received a phone call from one of the team and was told that “over 500 people had expressed interest in speaking” and that they could offer me a speaking slot as “part of an exhibition package“.

If the basis for their selection of speakers is who is willing to pay for the privilege, then I suspect the presentation will simply be one dull sales pitch after another. Which is sad given the importance of dialog around many of the challenges facing sustainability and efficiency practitioners.

I for one will definitely not be attending, and I thought it would be helpful to let colleagues know.

 

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EU Energy Efficiency – Governments resist the Commission’s vision

Posted by on Mar 6, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The notion of energy efficiency as an energy resource is now widely accepted. Indeed, since the widespread Demand Side Management programs of the 1970’s, these “Negawatts” (a term coined by Amory Lovins) have been quantified in financial terms and compared with supply-side infrastructure investments and shown in most cases to deliver the lowest cost per unit of energy (LCOE), as well a significant environmental benefits such as lower carbon emissions.

Thus it is with some alarm that I have read this morning that elements within the European Council are resisting formally prioritizing efficiency measures in the EU Energy Strategy. For those unfamiliar with how the EU works, here is a simplifcation

  • The Council represents the nation states in the EU and it sets the overall policies and goals
  • The Commission is the EU’s civil service and takes the Councils mandate to draft legislation
  • The legislation is approved by the Parliament and the Council and becomes EU law
  • Nation states then implement the laws and if they do not they can be challenged in the European Court of Justice

According to a report by EUObserver, some member states – through the Council –  are resisting the notion that energy efficiency should be considered a priority. Their argument is that of “subsidiarity”, which is the principle that the EU should not bring in rules and regulations which should more properly be dealt with at a National level. On the one hand we have the Commission and Parliament both proposing that energy efficiency is a core priority – an “energy efficiency first” approach – and on the other hand we have some elements in the Council who want to let member states determine their own priorities (with the suggestion that this is intended to favor new generation from gas plants).

Subsidiarity is a valid concept. Given, however, that the CO2 and other pollutants produced from energy generation do not respect borders, it is questionable whether this principle should apply in this case.  Friends of the Earth have suggested that the objection to prioritizing efficiency is coming from Bulgaria – which currently holds the rotating Chair of the Council and so has great influence in drawing up the response of the Council. This is very troubling as the environment minister of Bulgaria is reported to be a denier of climate-change.

It is essential that we do not give a veto to countries and politicians whose agenda is harmful to the interests of the people of Europe or, indeed, the people in their own nations. Let us hope that the other elements of the triumvirate (the Parliament and Commission) as well as those nations in the Council who recognize climate change to be the existential threat that it is – and understand that efficiency is the obvious first response – can prevail in this argument.

As with all such decisions the more visible and open they are the more we citizens and stakeholders can bring to bear our views. Please share this post to help spread the message.

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review from BEC Green in Canada

Posted by on Jan 3, 2018 in My Book, News | 0 comments

Energy and Resource Efficiency without the tears has been reviewed by Cathy Rust on her great green buildings site BEC Green…. This site is a great resource for all things green buildings and sustainability-related.

What I like about Cathy’s posts is that they are so wide-ranging – recent articles have covered: a circular-economy incubator in Rotterdam (entitled “Blue Roof – A Roof Made From Sewage Products“); an update on Californian regulations requiring that out-of-state suppliers of specified building materials (carbon steel rebar, flat glass, mineral wool board insulation and structural steel) submit an Environmental Product Declaration confirming that the products meet the specified carbon emissions; a review of a no clog, low-flow toilet; through to her personal reflections on test-driving an electric car.

The site also has links to a wealth of other sustainability resources and sites, as well as other book reviews.

I must warmly congratulate Cathy on her terrific contribution to her fellow sustainability practitioners and would urge folks to sign up for her blogs which are thought-provoking, insightful and very useful.

 

 

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Key lessons from the EU-ETS BREXIT chaos

Posted by on Dec 6, 2017 in Articles, Blog | 0 comments

The complexity of disentangling the UK from European institutions has been put in sharp relief by the intricate manoeuvring taking place around the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Politicians have been at pains to talk up the simplicity of any transition and the ease with which existing EU environmental legislation will be translated to the UK statutes through a “Great Repeal Bill”. In practice the process is proving to be much more complex.

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Funding for Energy and Resource Efficiency

Posted by on Oct 18, 2017 in Blog, My Book | 0 comments

Survey after survey** of energy management professionals show that a lack of resources is the most commonly cited cause for rejecting investments in energy and resource efficiency projects.

At the same time, the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2012 reported that for their “Efficient World Scenario” that “Additional investment of US$11.8 trillion in more efficient end-use technologies is needed, but is more than offset by a US$17.5 trillion reduction in fuel expenditures and US$5.9 trillion lower supply-side investment.” 

Clearly, a key to success in achieving a more efficient world is down to our ability, as efficiency practitioners, to obtain funding.

The excuse given by decision-makers that “we don’t have the money” is rarely true. If we are honest with ourselves, this response is often due to our own inability as practitioners to create a sufficiently compelling business case – one that addresses the many non-financial barriers that exist. My 840-page book on energy and resource efficiency is largely dedicated to sharing my own experience of these barriers and how they may be overcome:

  • By properly quantifying the value that efficiency generates (e.g. dealing with hidden and missing costs, and valuing co-benefits)
  • By understanding structural barriers (such as split incentives, irreversibility and term issues)
  • By addressing psychological barriers (sunk costs fallacies, loss aversion, certainty bias etc.)

But let’s, for a moment, assume that there really is an availability barrier – i.e. no money.  What then? Well, my book also describes 12 methods, in addition to conventional outright purchase, which can fund efficiency projects. Click the link below for a poster setting out the financial flows, pros and cons of these methods.

For a practical, comprehensive exploration of these challenges, please do download the free PDF of the book available on my website, which also describes each funding technique shown in the poster in detail. The book is full of real-world case studies and useful techniques that can help efficiency practitioners in any organisation, small or large.

In time decision-makers will gain appreciation of the great skills and value that our profession brings to organisations and communities. Indeed it us – efficiency practitioners – who are the key to solving the major challenge of our age: “how to do more with less”. Please do share this link with others to spread the word and share the knowledge.


** see for example: Prindle, William, and Andre de Fontaine. A Survey of Corporate Energy Efficiency Strategies, ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Industry 5, 13 (2009) or Institute for Building Efficiency. 2013 Energy Efficiency Indicators (2013)

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Why I remain optimistic.

Posted by on Aug 4, 2017 in Articles, Blog | 0 comments

Several pieces of news have caught my attention in the last few days which have challenged my generally positive outlook on climate change issues. Despite this, I remain stubbornly optimistic about our ability to rise collectively to the challenges we face, as I will explain…. first though, the bad news…

 

Let’s start with the report from the BBC of a recent study by  Eun-Soon Im, Jeremy S. Pal, and Elfatih A. B. Eltahir. This considered an aspect of global warming which, I must admit, has passed me by – that is the impact of temperature on human survival. Not, I hasten to add, the conventional “dry bulb” temperature measurement we are all familiar with from weather forecasts (and which are hitting all-time highs in Europe in the last few days, in excess of 43 °C in Cordoba, in the south of Spain, for example) but rather the more esoteric “wet bulb” temperature.

This measurement is the lowest temperature that can be achieved by evaporating water from a surface. In a low humidity environment, the wet bulb temperature can be considerably lower than the dry bulb temperature (as heat energy – aka latent heat – is needed to evaporate the liquid water, so lowering the temperature of the surface). As the moisture in the atmosphere rises, however, the potential for further evaporation decreases and so the wet bulb temperature approaches the dry bulb temperature until we reach 100% humidity, when both temperatures are the same.  

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