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A unique opportunity to prepare for sustainable choices in 2021

April 1, 2020 9:30 AM
By Marion Wolstencroft

Marion Wolstencroft (Marion Wolstencroft)A unique opportunity to prepare for sustainable choices in 2021.

Graham's 'Chair's Briefing' in Challenge Winter 2019-20 was timely. Most people accept the reality of climate change, some of the consequences and the need for us to change; but there is NO direction, policy or leadership in how ordinary people can start to make changes. Business and public organisations are beginning this process for their particular operations and will continue to do so if public policy demands this.

While government etc. are fully engaged in the pandemic, and 'getting Brexit done' has gone out the window, those of us in enforced isolation at home have a unique opportunity to consider and address that huge gap in public knowledge and the lack of robust tools which enable citizens to determine their best actions to address their own carbon footprints.

There are two projects which Green LibDems should be working on right now:

Project 1 - Climate Change and how to address it - one household at a time.

To change your carbon footprint you need to know where you start and then what the options for change are.

There are a number of carbon footprint checklists available on line - simple/complex, focused/confusing and none of them provide a robust, straight forward tool for answering the question:

'How do I calculate my carbon footprint, what are the individual elements and in each case what are the practical options for improvement in the short and medium term?'

Every Liberal Democrat, in the first instance, and then every household needs to be able to carry out this evaluation. Green LibDems could help develop the best tool for the job. The resource links on the website provide excellent background material but do not provide a suitable tool, as yet.

Project 2 - What replaces fossil Natural Gas?

While it is right to review all the many options for moving to a sustainable range of power production/consumption systems and in the very long term reducing power consumption levels substantially, the short term requires realistic options for converting to sustainable power for transport and household heating.

For sustainable transport the debate is ongoing and the options are already out there. For private transport choices the equipment lifetime is well under 15 years so major change will be achieved by 2035 .

In the case of domestic heating systems equipment lifetimes are more like 20 - 40 years. Of the 23 million UK households which use natural gas , only 1 million use sustainable natural gas rather than fossil fuel. What is the speediest, most economical, most sustainable strategy for converting the other 22 million? The public debate has hardly begun, the options and how they are to be delivered are not clear . This is the next most urgent area for review and communication.

Marion Wolstencroft