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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