Sunday, 19 October 2008

Green energy is not a middle-class conceit, more the only way forward

A Green New Deal is essential if we are to enjoy a sustainable prosperity, argues Geoffrey Lean
Sunday, 19 October 2008


The UK's largest carbon-neutral development, at Beddington. Investment in renewable energy is a growth area
So that's it, then, choruses the commentariat. Collapsing confidence, crashing stock markets and credit-starved banks spell doom not just for the economy, but for environmental concerns. Saving the planet may be all very well in the good times, but is an unaffordable luxury when things turn bad.
The argument is pervasive, persuasive and gaining ground. Even some environmentalists half-accept it, believing they should mute their message. But it is plain wrong. Never have green concerns and measures been more important.
How so? The second best reason is that this financial crisis is mild compared with the environmentally driven ones ahead. The climate crunch, the Stern report concluded, will cost a staggering 20 per cent of global growth if not averted. Peak oil – when the cheap and abundant fuel that has powered our growth becomes scarce and expensive – is likely to be even worse in its impact, reducing supplies of humanity's main source of energy, for the first time in history, before another can take its place.
And neither can wait. There's a growing consensus that emissions of carbon dioxide must head sharply downwards within a decade if global warming is not to run out of control. And peak oil, a growing number of experts believe, may well arrive even sooner.
But the most important reason is wholly positive. Developing a new green economy is our most promising path out of the present crisis. It is the best available new engine of growth, with the best chance of creating the tens of millions of jobs that will soon be desperately needed.
This Wednesday, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will be making precisely this point, when it launches a new campaign in London. Its multi-million-dollar Green Economy Initiative – already being funded by the German and Norwegian governments and the European Commission – aims to convince the world, that, far from restricting growth, tackling the growing planetary environmental crisis would accelerate it.
UNEP plans to "make and communicate a strong and convincing economic case". As The Independent on Sunday exclusively reported last week, it envisages a Green New Deal to create jobs, revive the international economy, slash poverty and head off environmental disaster.
The launch comes not a moment too soon, for the tide is already flowing strongly in the other direction. Last Thursday it threatened to sweep away the prospects for agreeing a strong successor to the Kyoto Protocol – the best, and last, chance to bring climate change under control.
Eight European leaders – led by Donald Tusk the Prime Minister of Poland, and Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's controversial premier – revolted against ambitious targets for increasing renewable energy adopted at a similar summit just 18 months ago, saying they could no longer afford to meet them. The revolt is serious because it threatens to undermine the authority of the EU, which is leading the drive towards a new climate treaty, and to give other countries the excuse not to act.
It is also shortsighted, for renewables are one of the most important, and fastest growing, parts of the already booming green economy. Worldwide, investment in them grew four-fold, from $33.4bn (£19.3bn) to $148.4bn between 2004 and 2007, Michael Liebreich, CEO of analysts New Energy Finance, will report in the next issue of the UN's environmental magazine, Our Planet.
Renewables' share of Germany's electricity supply has almost tripled to more than 14 per cent over the past 10 years, creating 250,000 jobs. In China 600,000 people are employed in making and installing solar water heaters: they are now used in one in 10 of the nation's homes – a proportion forecast to rise to one in two by 2030. Chinese wind-energy capacity has doubled in each of the past two years, while its production of solar cells soared from virtually nothing in 2005 to the biggest in the world last year. Worldwide, renewables now employ 2.3 million people, a figure expected almost to quadruple by 2030.
The global market for environmental goods and services now stands at $1.37 trillion and this is expected to double within 12 years. Clean technologies attract the third largest amount of venture capital in the US after IT and biotechnology. And a recent UNEP report concludes that the green economy is driving invention and innovation – long acknowledged to be the principal drivers of economic growth – on a scale not seen since the industrial revolution.
If all this has been happening under the old, now failing, economic regime, which has not been at all favourable to green growth, what might happen if the world decided to promote the new green economy? For a start there would be many more jobs. Renewable energy, says Professor Daniel Kammen of the University of California, Berkeley, "has been shown to generate three to five times more jobs per dollar, or yuan, invested, than comparable investments in fossil fuels". Similarly, recycling creates 10 times as much employment as dumping rubbish in landfills, while the International Labour Organisation reports that worldwide move to energy-efficient buildings could create "tens of millions of new jobs".
But the initiative to be launched in London next week goes further, envisaging a massive programme of work – like the huge infrastructure programme at the heart of Roosevelt's original New Deal – to restore the vital natural services that underpin the world economy. UNEP points out that policies that have concentrated on their short-term exploitation, without considering how they should be used to sustain long-term prosperity, have led to the climate and energy crises – and to the rising food prices that have already plunged an extra million of the world's poorest people into severe hunger. World growth has doubled over the past 25 years, but 60 per cent of the natural resources that provide food, water, energy and clean air have been seriously degraded.
"The 20th century economy, now in such crisis, was driven by financial capital," says Achim Steiner, UNEP's executive director. "The 21st-century one is going to have to be based on developing the world's natural capital to provide the lasting jobs and wealth that are needed, particularly for the poorest people on the planet." He cites Mexico, which is already employing 1.5 million poor people to plant and manage the forests that conserve the country's soil and water supplies.
It makes economic, as well as environmental sense. If the world's two billion desperately poor people can be economically enfranchised, they will become a huge new market, helping to create a new world prosperity.
Utopian nonsense, some economist will retort. But these are the very people who told us we should put our faith in a banking system balancing on a basis of toxic debt, that the grotesque greed of the few would cause wealth to trickle down to the poor, and that tackling poverty or environmental crisis would ruin the world's financial system. Who, then, has been living in a fantasy world?
Could the Green New Deal ever take off? It is certainly a million miles from the economic fashion of the past 30 years, but that is now as bankrupt as Lehman Brothers. When one philosophy fails, the world grasps at an available alternative, as it did at monetarism three decades ago when Keynsianism was thought to have run out of steam. And this is the best candidate around.
It also has a surprising amount of, at least verbal, support from business and political leaders. In June the chief executives of 100 of the world's biggest companies called on the world's governments to launch "a green industrial revolution" by adopting tough measures on climate change. At about the same time, David Cameron said that going green was essential for future prosperity. Its time for their money to follow their mouths.

The Sunday Times

October 19, 2008
Energy giants plot revival of coal power
Jonathan Leake, Science Editor

Britain's electricity generators are planning to build several coal-fired power stations despite the controversy over the greenhouse gas emissions that they would produce.
The firms say they need to replace existing coal-fired stations because so many are being closed by European directives aimed at cutting pollution.
New coal-burning power stations will infuriate green groups, who fear that they will jeopardise Britain’s pledge to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.
This week Gordon Brown will give a speech to the British Wind Energy Association’s annual conference, supporting its plans to add another 5,000 onshore wind turbines to the 2,000 already built.

This would add several gigawatts of renewable power generation capacity to the national grid but would “industrialise” many of Britain’s most beautiful landscapes.
The generating groups have pledged to make any new coal-fired power stations ready for carbon capture if trials of the technology prove successful.
Bob Taylor, managing director of generation at E.ON, the German energy group which is one of Britain’s biggest power companies, said: “Between now and 2030 we have to replace 60% of Britain’s power generating capacity. If we ignore coal, that leaves us relying on foreign gas suppliers and that would be a bad position to be in.”
E.ON’s plans are the most advanced. It has already lodged a planning application for a power station at Kingsnorth in north Kent.
This weekend RWE Npower, another generator, confirmed that it was considering lodging applications for two more coal-fired stations within the next few months.
“We are studying sites at Tilbury in Essex and Blyth in Northumberland,” RWE said.
ScottishPower also wants to expand or upgrade its two coal-fired stations including Longannet, Fife, which is the second biggest source of greenhouse gases in Britain, producing 10m a year. tons of CO2 Similarly, Scottish and Southern Energy is drawing up plans for a £250m upgrade of its Ferrybridge power station in West Yorkshire.
In Britain coal still generates about 36% of the nation’s electricity.
James Hansen, a leading Nasa scientist who has described coal as “the enemy of mankind”, said: “We need an immediate moratorium preventing additional coal-fired power plants being built.”

Scotland has sights on 'Saudi Arabia' of marine energy as firms bid to build big windfarms

Published Date: 19 October 2008
By Jeremy Watson

SCOTLAND has taken a major step towards becoming a green energy powerhouse after more than a dozen companies applied to build a series of giant offshore windfarms.
The Crown Estate, the agency which owns the British seabed out to the 12-mile territorial limit, has revealed that 14 private development consortiums are bidding to build the farms in 23 locations off the east and west coasts.Each farm is expected to have scores of 1,000-tonne turbines, up to 300ft high, anchored to the seabed and spread over tens of square miles. Although only a selection of the farms will be built, each one is expected to produce around 500 megawatts of power – enough to light about 300,000 homes – and make a significant contribution to Alex Salmond's dream of turning Scotland into the "Saudi Arabia" of marine energy.Difficulties and long delays in gaining planning permission for large onshore windfarms because of environmental concerns are fuelling the move offshore into territorial waters. Advances in deep-water windfarm technology – gained from North Sea oil industry expertise – have made offshore farms more viable.They are likely to be sited several miles offshore to avoid opposition to their visual intrusion that has dogged onshore turbine developments. Potential locations include the northern Irish Sea and the outer reaches of the Solway Firth off the coast of Dumfries and Galloway, where undersea cables could be constructed to connect the farms to the national grid via existing nuclear power stations at Hunterston and Chapelcross. Sea areas to the east of the Angus and Lothian coasts are also strong contenders.Scotland currently produces 4.5 gigawatts of renewable energy, putting it just 400MW away from meeting its targets of generating 31% of its electricity demand from renewable sources by 2011. At a conference earlier this month, Salmond said he was confident of meeting the future target of producing 50% energy from renewables by 2020 as by that time there would be "gigantic stuff offshore".As an incentive, the Crown Estate is offering exclusive development rights for locations to developers and will also pay for up to 50% of the cost of gaining planning permission, a sum likely to be worth millions of pounds.The Crown Estate opened the bidding for Scottish territorial waters in June, saying the rapid development of offshore wind capacity was central to the delivery of the UK's share of the European Union target of 20% renewable energy by 2020.The deadline for applications was on October 10. Ian Pitchard, the Crown Estate's head of offshore operations, said: "We are encouraged by the strong response. There have been applications from 14 developers involving 23 locations spread around the Scottish coast."The Crown Estate will now carry out an initial assessment of the applications, with decisions being made in December. Scottish Natural Heritage, the Government's nature adviser, says it has been approached for environmental advice by a number of developers. It revealed in a report that it has also been told by the SNP Government to "ensure that conservation issues and other potential constraints are addressed and do not create a barrier to development".The minimum size of development asked for by the Crown Estate, which will earn money for the Treasury from leasing seabed sites, was 100MW, but commercial windfarms can now be five times that size.Among the likeliest candidates to be among the developers are Scottish and Southern Energy, which is already involved in building the world's largest offshore windfarm, at a cost of £1.2bn, off the Suffolk coast. Another will be Ramco, an Aberdeen-based energy company. Jason Ormiston, chief executive of the Scottish Renewables Forum, an industry lobby body, said: "We are pleasantly surprised by the level of interest. It seems we are gearing up for major developments off the coast of Scotland but at this stage we don't know whether we will get a handful or many more.A spokesman for Ramco offshoot SeaEnergy said: "We are interested in bidding, especially as this is our home patch. There is a better wind resource out at sea and you don't have the problems of visual impact that you have on land."Environmental groups – many of which have opposed windfarm developments on land because of their visual impact – welcomed the move offshore. Dan Barlow, head of policy at WWF Scotland, said: "We have tough renewable energy targets to meet and offshore windfarms will help us to do that."

Shell pulls out of its last UK wind farm project

The Sunday Times
October 19, 2008
Danny Fortson

ROYAL DUTCH SHELL completed its withdrawal from the UK wind-energy sector after quietly selling out of the last project it had in this country.
The oil giant recently agreed to sell its stake in the £800m Cirrus Shell Flat Array, a 270MW project off the Blackpool coast, to partners Scottish Power and Dong Energy.
Its exit, three months after it walked away from the world’s largest proposed offshore wind farm, the London Array, will raise questions about the government’s ambitious wind-energy targets.
The decision will also anger environmentalists already critical of Shell’s push into dirty-fuel sources such as Canada’s tar sands.

Shell said: “Our focus for new projects is North America. We are committed to wind projects that make economic sense.”

Miliband's blueprint for greener homes

The Government has made its target to cut carbon dioxide emissions more ambitious, and the new Energy and Climate Change Secretary is examining incentives to help us meet it, reports Geoffrey Lean
Sunday, 19 October 2008

David Sandison
Ed Miliband's plans which are scheduled to be published at the end of next month are expected to include tough targets for cutting energy use in the country's 26 million homes

Ed Miliband, the new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, is drawing up plans for a "big shift" in the way Britons heat and power their homes, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.
The plans – which are scheduled to be published at the end of next month – are expected to include tough targets for cutting energy use in the country's 26 million homes, notoriously the worst insulated in Europe, and generous incentives to make it easy for householders to meet them.
The drive has the full backing of the Prime Minister, who has decided that promoting energy saving should be a top priority for the Government because it will create employment, save families money as fuel prices rise, combat climate change and make it easier for Britain to achieve energy security.
Yesterday Mr Miliband, who is already shaking up his department's priorities in order to place much more emphasis on reducing demand for fuel, told the IoS: "Over time we need a big shift in the way we use and conserve energy and the Government must play a part in making this happen."
Senior officials will present him with the first draft of the plans on Wednesday, in the middle of the Government's official Energy Saving Week. They will focus on reducing energy wastage from Britain's housing stock, which is responsible for 27 per cent of the entire country's emissions of carbon dioxide.
Ministers have already laid down an ambitious programme for new housing, which requires all new homes to meet strict zero-carbon standards by 2016. But this only scratches the surface of the problem, which arises overwhelmingly from the leaky state of the country's s existing homes.
Last week Mr Miliband accepted a recommendation from the official Committee on Climate Change to increase Britain's target for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from 60 to 80 per cent by 2050.
But if the country is to have any chance of meeting this – the most radical commitment so far made by any nation in the world – it will have dramatically to improve the energy efficiency of existing homes, since 85 per cent of them are expected still to be in use by the middle of the century.
Gordon Brown took the first step towards achieving this last month by making cavity wall and loft insulation available half-price to every household – and free to the poor and to pensioners. Firms report a sharp increase in demand as a result. But he, and Mr Miliband, realise that further measures will be needed.
Among the initiatives that the new Energy Secretary is expected to adopt are:
Targets for reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from British homes. Last week a report by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), partly funded by the Government, called for this to be "at least 80 per cent" by 2050. And it added that "interim targets" should be set for every five years between now and mid century, to ensure that the policy stays on track. The report says that "the scale of this challenge is somewhat daunting", but that there was a "consensus" that "it can be done", provided policies change. Certainly no lesser target has a chance of doing the job.
New ways to enable people to fund the improvements needed to make their homes energy efficient. Most energy-saving measures more than pay for themselves over time, but most families still find it hard to find the initial sum of money needed to buy equipment and install it.
The UKGBC report suggests that the Government, banks or the energy companies should offer 100 per cent, interest-free loans that could be repaid through local taxes, the energy bill or the mortgage. One imaginative idea is that householders should pay back a proportion of the money they actually save on fuel bills from making the improvement, keeping the rest as an incentive. But the loan would have to be tied to the property not the individual, staying in place when a home changed hands.
Other financial incentives could include reducing the rate of VAT charged on home improvements and offering rebates of council tax, income tax or stamp duty to owners of energy efficient homes.
Much better advice and information to householders on how to make their homes more energy efficient. A wide consultation by the UKGBC found that the most important obstacles to them taking action are "a lack of knowledge about what can be done to upgrade a home, and confusion about where to find reliable advice, installers and information".
This might be best achieved through a "whole home energy plan", which lays out how to make it energy efficient, what measures should be made when, how to get the money needed and how to ensure aftercare. There would also need to be some scheme for formally accrediting installers.
A drive to train builders and tradesmen to enable them to carry out green refurbishment projects, often at the same time as they are doing other building work on the property. The improvement of the energy efficiency of British homes is potentially a huge source of income and employment: the UKGBC report calls it an "enormous business opportunity", worth an estimated £3.5bn-£6.5bn a year, and likely to create "tens of thousands of new 'green-collar' jobs".
Experts believe Mr Miliband is shaking up the notoriously conservative official attitude to energy, which has placed a low priority on efficiency. He is seen as a great improvement on his predecessor, the arch-Blairite John Hutton, who was particularly focused on building new nuclear and coal-fired power stations. Paul King, the UKGBC's chief executive, said: "Ed Miliband's first few days have shown that he is determined to push the agenda forward. I believe he will be looking to set bold targets for existing houses."
Downing Street said Gordon Brown regards energy conservation as "a very high priority" not least because it will provide much-needed jobs and enable people to keep fuel bills down.
But the Conservative Party seemed to have missed the point – and let its green positioning slip – last week when Chris Grayling, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said the Prime Minister's interest in creating jobs through energy efficiency measures shows "how out of touch he is with what is going on in the real economy".
EU moves to toughen law on insulation
Families that extend their homes will be forced to insulate their whole houses under new plans being drawn up by the European Commission, confidential documents reveal. The documents, seen by 'The Independent on Sunday', detail proposals for toughening European energy conservation laws. They will be put before commissioners next month.
The measure will embarrass ministers because it will make them do something that the Government had itself proposed and then abandoned. Shortly before the last general election, it put out a consultation document on the proposal – but dropped the idea despite an overwhelmingly favourable response. It then promised another consultation, but this never materialised.
The thinking behind the proposal is that when a home is extended it increases its carbon footprint, and that work should be carried out to reduce it instead.
Up to now, the EU has required this only when buildings with a total floor area of more than 1,000 square metres are extended. The new measure will apply to all buildings, including private homes, when the extension is equivalent to more than a quarter of their size or value. The EC officials who have drawn up the proposal believe it will lead to €25bn in energy savings by 2020 and provide tens of thousands of jobs.
Andrew Warren, director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, said: "This would be one of the biggest breakthroughs for years in reducing the amount of energy used in homes and other buildings. It will make an important contribution to fighting climate change and create a lot of new jobs in the construction industry."
Geoffrey Lean
10 ways to a more energy-efficient house
Eco hat
A rooftop gadget that uses warm air rising through the house to heat domestic water or re-circulate it through the home. Some types act as an internal chimney, capturing some of the heat from extracted air to be reused to heat incoming air.
Ground source (or geothermal) heat pump
This works by extracting heat from the ground and consists of a length of pipe containing water and antifreeze which is pumped around, absorbing the heat. The pump can cost from £6,000 to £12,000 but is able to generate £1,000 worth of electricity a year.
Air source heat pump
This exchanges heat with the air rather than the ground. A system costs about £7,500 but can produce £750 worth of energy a year. Grants are available from the Government's Low Carbon Buildings Programme for eco heat pumps and other green technologies such as solar, wind and hydro power.
Hydro turbine
People with streams or rivers on their property can use a hydro turbine, the most efficient of the renewable energy technologies. Up to 90 per cent of the water's energy can be converted to electricity. A small hydro turbine can cost between £4,000 and £10,000 depending on size.
Energy meter
A Wattson energy meter displays your energy consumption at any given time in terms of pounds per year for that level of consumption. This allows you to track just how much you are using and prevent catch-up bills from energy companies that may have previously billed on estimated usage.
Triple-glazed window
Double-glazing has been superseded by triple-glazed windows, with cavities filled with argon gas, which is a better insulator than air. Commonly used in Canada and Scandinavian countries, they are more efficient than traditional double-glazed windows.
Biomass burning boiler
These burn pellets made from compressed waste sawdust to heat water and provide central heating. They cost from £5,000 to £10,000 to install. But a typical system can produce up to £1,000 worth of energy a year and saves six tons of carbon dioxide compared to a traditional boiler.
Underfloor heating
Usually powered by ground source heat pumps, underfloor heating is more energy efficient than radiators. Because the floor has a larger space than a standard radiator, the water can be heated to a lower temperature than usual.
Solar-powered charger
For about £30 you can get a portable solar-powered charger to keep mobile phones, satnav units, laptops and other electronic gadgets fully charged.
Wind turbine
By installing a wind turbine on your roof, you can meet some of your energy needs. Although it can cost from £1,500 to £5,000, grants and long-term savings make this a viable option.
Jonathan Owen
and what you should be doing already
Using energy-efficient lightbulbs
Turning down your thermostat by at least 1C
Switching to a green energy supplier
Making sure your home – including potentially wasteful areas such as the loft space – is well insulated
Turning off appliances such as computers and televisions when they not in use, rather than leaving them on standby
Using energy-efficient washing machines and fridge-freezers
Getting a free Home Energy check by logging on to

Blow to image of ‘green’ reusable nappy

The Sunday Times
October 19, 2008
Marie Woolf, Whitehall Editor

A government report that found old-fashioned reusable nappies damage the environment more than disposables has been hushed up because ministers are embarrassed by its findings.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has instructed civil servants not to publicise the conclusions of the £50,000 nappy research project and to adopt a “defensive” stance towards its conclusions.
The report found that using washable nappies, hailed by councils throughout Britain as a key way of saving the planet, have a higher carbon footprint than their disposable equivalents unless parents adopt an extreme approach to laundering them.
To reduce the impact of cloth nappies on climate change parents would have to hang wet nappies out to dry all year round, keep them for years for use on younger children, and make sure the water in their washing machines does not exceed 60C.
The conclusions will upset proponents of real nappies who have claimed they can help save the planet.
Restricted Whitehall documents, seen by The Sunday Times, show that the government is so concerned by the “negative laundry options” outlined in the report, it has told its media managers not to give its conclusions any publicity.
The report found that while disposable nappies used over 2½ years would have a global warming , impact of 550kg of CO2 reusable nappies produced 570kg of CO2 on average. But if parents used tumble dryers and washed the reusable nappies at 90C, the impact could spiral to . 993kg of CO2 A Defra spokesman said the government was shelving plans for future research on nappies.

‘Greedy’ electricals use up energy savings

The Sunday Times
October 19, 2008

The carbon emissions created by luxury electrical appliances has undone the benefits of energy-saving CFL light bulbs

PLASMA-SCREEN televisions and large American-style fridge freezers — coupled with the greater use of energy-gobbling tumble dryers and dishwashers — are leading to increased carbon emissions as Irish electricity usage soars, thereby undoing the benefits gained from switching to CFL light bulbs.
The trend has been described as “ worrying” by Brian O’Gallachoir, a lecturer in energy engineering at University College Cork. “More than 90% of our electricity generation at the moment is from fossil fuels, so every additional unit of electricity generated to meet the growing needs associated with these new appliances is going to lead to an increase in emissions,” he said.
“We’ve seen a significant growth in electricity usage per household due to the increase in use of high energy-using appliances such as clothes dryers. This has more than offset the technical improvements made in lowering the energy usage of appliances and the effect of labelling schemes on purchasing behaviour.”
He said the other main contributing factor to the problem is the increase in size of electrical appliances such as televisions and newer gadgets that have not yet been captured in the statistics, such as satellite/cable set-top boxes, DVD players and games consoles.
In 2006, the most recent year for which figures are available, the average Irish dwelling consumed 5,591 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, a 24% increase on the 4,526kWh recorded in 1995. This was 20% above the average for the UK.
The acceleration in the trend for Ireland coincided with the economic boom, which was when the increased demand for more and bigger appliances began.
According to a report from the Environmental Protection Agency, ownership of tumble dryers and dishwashers has more than doubled in the past decade.
Almost 62% of homes have a tumble dryer now compared with 27% in 1995. Only 19% of households had dishwashers 13 years ago, compared with 50% now. Almost half of homes have two or more televisions today, compared with 29% in 1995. Home computers are also in 56% of homes, versus 16% in the previous decade.
Like many retailers Discount Electrical no longer stocks the traditional cathode-ray tube televisions, which consumed as little as one-third of the energy of modern flatscreens. A 42in plasma television switched on for five hours a day will consume 766kWh of electricity over a year, compared with 222kWh for a 28in standard television.
Energy consumption is not an issue for people buying televisions, said Joe White of Discount Electrical. “Usually they get a 20in set for the kitchen and a 26in set for the bedroom,” he said.
Many new appliances are left on stand-by when not in use, instead of being switched off. Of the annual 766kWh that a 42in plasma television eats up in electricity, 125kWh is wasted by leaving it in stand-by mode.
O’Gallachoir said a campaign similar to the promotion of energy-saving light bulbs should target luxury electronics. Each household produces about eight tons of carbon dioxide emissions, with electricity usage representing 40% of this total.
Aodhan MacPhaidin, an energy consultant with Power of One, the government-backed campaign to reduce energy use, said: “If you replace all the light bulbs with CFLs, but then you have the dryer on all the time, you’re undoing the good you get. We are noticing a lot of tumble dryer use. They are being used during the summer as well, so we are trying to encourage people to use clothes lines.”
Switch off, firms told
COMPANIES and state agencies that leave lights burning at night are to be asked to switch off.
The Dublin offices of Ulster Bank, Irish Nationwide, Eircom, the Helix in Dublin City University and the Irish Aid office have been criticised for using high-energy lighting 24 hours a day.
They are among the offices likely to feature in a documentary by John Callaghan, an environmental campaigner, who plans to project graffiti-like images onto buildings that remain lit. Some owners say they need to leave lights on for security and late staff.
The film-makers will use a laser light pen to create graffiti images on the “offending” buildings. The art work will feature in Turn It Off, a short film claimed to be the world’s first non-emissions production, using solar panels in the studio and bicycles for all travel.
“I was looking at Dublin from the mountains and there were so many lights pointing upwards that there is an orange glow around the city,” Callaghan said.
David Moore, chairman and founder of Astronomy Ireland, said his organisation is launching a campaign against light pollution. He estimates that the nationwide public lighting bill could be cut by up to €70m a year.
Alan Breen, from Dublin city council which plans to cut city energy use by 33% by 2020, said there is no legal standard for public or commercial lighting.