My goldfish died in the night. I’ve posthumously named him ‘Gordon’. It seems rather propitious that their floundering exit coincided. And I couldn’t be more delighted. Not about the fish but about the departure of Labour. New, progressive or just tired, I was thoroughly fed up with them.
There are so many developments on the political front that it’s hard to keep up – it’s very exciting. But one of the things that pleased me most was the prominence of environmental issues in the coalition deal, right from the start. For example, David Cameron’s first offer to the Lib Dems acknowledged that both parties want to create a ‘low carbon economy’.
Caroline Lucas makes history as the first green MP. And Zac Goldsmith, former editor of the Ecologist, and a prominent green wins his seat in Richmond. Things are looking up. And Liberal Democrat, Chris Huhne, has been appointed Minister for Energy and Climate Change. His first radio interview talking about his position on nuclear power was excellent.
So I thought I’d take the opportunity to create my own eclectic green manifesto for the incoming government.
1. Switch to decentralised energy: Instead of large-scale decentralised power stations, whether coal, gas or nuclear, we should be setting up a system for home-produced energy from a range of sources. This will mean significant investment in changing the National Grid. Click here for Greenpeace page on decentralisation.
2. Source more energy from the sea: If we put more investment into wave and tidal power, we could get a sizeable part of our energy needs from the sea. Click here for The Renewable Energy Centre.
3. Line motorways with wind turbines: We need a substantial increase in wind turbines and one idea might be to site them in places where people will find it hard to complain about their visual impact. Click here for Ecotricity’s plans for Wind Parks.
4. Use methane from rotting waste: There’s huge untapped potential for using gases released from rotting waste to power vehicles and heat buildings. Click her for my blog on biogas.
5. Change electricity charging: Let’s pay power companies more money if they sell less electricity and encourage them to charge high energy users more per unit of electricity rather than less.
6. Introduce planning laws to make green building mandatory: All new buildings should be super-energy and water-efficient, with LED lighting, high levels of insulation and draft proofing, as well as smart metering. Click here for Ecos Trust and here for Exploration Architecture.
7. Require schools to set targets for reducing carbon emissions: Every school should be required to publish details of their energy and water consumption, along with targets for reduction. They should also ensure that climate change and other environmental issues are well covered in the class room.
8. Make cooling climate-change friendly: Cooling gases used by supermarkets, other retailers and in transport vehicles should be climate-change friendly – see Chilling Facts campaign for further details.
9. Rethink government policy on electronic waste: We need to reduce, re-design, re-use and recycle E-waste, taking into account the life-cycle impacts of products and promoting closed loop solutions. This should include scrapping the compulsory switch to digital radio. Click here for Guardian article on electronic waste and here for BBC article.
10. Introduce a comprehensive waste policy for the health service: There are real opportunities to dramatically reduce medical and hospital waste, as well as encourage energy recovery from hospital incinerators. Click here for my blog on hospital waste.
11. Remove the obstacles to commercial recycling: Current laws actually make it more difficult for pubs, clubs, restaurants, retailers and other commercial premises to recycle, as the focus is on domestic waste – this needs to be sorted.
12. Legislate for fuel-efficient cars: All new cars should be required to do at least 50 miles to the gallon – or even more. Click here for Green Car Guide.
13. Provide incentives for low-impact travel: Innovative, low cost public transport systems should be introduced throughout the UK, as well as incentives for cycling and car-sharing. Click here for Campaign for Better Transport.
14. Increase the costs of flying: Tax aircraft fuel in the same way as fuel for cars so that air fares are significantly more expensive. And stop proposals for building any new airports or runways. (It’s the first day of the Government and the news is that plans for a third runway at Heathrow have been scrapped). Click here for details of Greenpeace Airplot campaign
15. Switch the army to re-chargeable batteries: Billions of disposable batteries are used by the army every year – often they’re discarded only partly used. Rechargeables would save both money and resources. .
16. Carry out an environmental audit of all government departments: They should be setting an example and leading the way in green procurement. Click here for Forum for the Future report on green procurement.
17. Legislation to reduce the climate change impact of food: Agriculture accounts for less than 1% of UK GDP but contributes about 7% of our total GHG emissions – we should be doing more to reduce it. Click here for Food Climate Research Network
18. Set up marine reserves and support sustainable fishing: Extensive Marine reserves should be set up to help preserve fish stocks. And the government should be promoting sustainably sourced fish. Click here for Fish Online.
19. Protect forests: Draconian measures should be introduced to protect forests from agricultural expansion, such as from soya or palm oil. Click here for the Princes Rainforest Project.
20. Introduce legislation for greener death: A new process known as ‘Resomation’ using water rather than fire, should be replacing cremation. With one quarter the carbon footprint and no mercury pollution ‘bio-cremation’ as it’s sometimes called is being held up by the need for government legislation. Another benefit is being able to safely re-use gold fillings and artificial joints. Click here for my blog on resomation and here for link for Resomation Ltd.