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Reasons to be cheerful? Sustainable energy and the UK

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The respected Committee on Climate Change suggests that Britain may struggle to meet its climate targets in the 2020s. Looked at another way, though, it also says we will likely make the carbon reduction goal for 2017 – it’s rather that the committee feels a ‘policy gap’ might cause the ball that’s been got rolling to slow up after this point.

So, rather than a fixed prediction of a future of failure, what we’re seeing here is a warning; a call to cull all short-termism and focus on continuous, long-term change in the way we do things, energy-wise.

All is far from lost. While arguably the UK’s most high-profile energy debate is around shale gas and fracking, little has been made of the fact that the Green Investment Bank is well and truly up and running. So far, £635 million has gone into projects, and £800 million more was pledged in the recent Spending Review.

On the home front, there’s Green Deal – and yes, we’re well aware there’s been negative reporting around that too. We’re still confident there’s the will there for things to take off – we get hundreds of calls to our Advice Service every week from people interested in whether the offer might be what they’re looking for.

But then if there’s been a certain reticence, there’s always room for creative ideas to help matters. The UK Green Building Council have offered their thoughts to the Government – namely using tax incentives to get those teetering on the brink of taking up a Green Deal package  to take the plunge.

If that’s not enough, a study has suggested that improving a home’s EPC rating can add 14 per cent to house prices on average – with even bigger upward swings in some parts of the country.

Where there’s a will there’s a way, they say. Earlier this month we pointed to research that suggests that that there is demand right across the strata of areas that need to get carbon-cutting: households, business and landlords. There’s also energy bubbling up from communities, both literally and figuratively. We recently looked at the community energy self-funding model which seems to be finding its feet around the country, while the Energy Bill has been successfully amended so larger cooperative energy projects can benefit from Government incentives.

This is not an attempt to green-wash – here at Energy Saving Trust, we’re well aware the challenge of UK carbon reduction is huge. One look at this in-depth piece of UK decarbonisation analysis from The Energy Collective shows the scale and complexity of what needs to be done.  All the signs show, though, that energy efficiency, renewables and green entrepreneurship are ideas that have roots in the UK, and reasons to grow. Defeat will not be accepted meekly.

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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