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Think Globally, Act Locally – reduce carbon emissions and create a Cosy Home
As we get closer to the Global United Nations Climate Change Summit (COP27) taking place in Egypt in November and we see rising energy costs. East Cambs Climate Action Network (East Cambs CAN) is calling for local people to “Think Globally, Act Locally” to tackle the climate and energy crises which are both caused by our reliance on fossil fuels.
In 2015 leaders from 195 countries met to sign the Paris Climate Agreement – a commitment to keep the global temperature increase ‘well below” 2°C, and try to limit it to 1.5°C. Despite this, since 2015, the concentration of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) has continued to rise rapidly. In 2018 the IPCC warned that drastic emissions cuts were needed in the 2020’s to have any chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C.
It is vital that world leaders build on the progress made at COP26 and bring forward more ambitious pledges to COP27 with the detail about how they plan to decarbonise their economies. As a flood prone region, vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise, it is in our interest in East Cambridgeshire that we do our bit by reducing greenhouse gas emissions closer to home.
East Cambs CAN Co-Chair Jethro Gauld believes that:
“While these international summits may seem distant, action at more local levels will play an important role in tackling the climate and ecological emergency. There are ways we can all reduce our own impact on the planet such as how we choose to travel, what we choose to eat and how we heat our homes but we are all living in an imperfect system, so these actions need to be part of a wider community effort. We also need government at all levels to help individuals and communities on the path to zero carbon with funding and legislation. Government could do a lot more and it was disappointing to see the green homes grant scheme fail because the barriers to homeowners seeking to secure the funding were too high.”
With rising energy costs there is currently a big focus on housing – how you can reduce carbon emissions, cut running costs and make it cosier. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that domestic heating accounts for 31% of household CO2 emissions because the energy used mainly comes from fossil fuels like gas and oil. Everyone can help fight climate change by reducing these emissions, simultaneously cutting costs and reducing our reliance upon volatile oil and gas markets. Although the green homes grant has now been scrapped, there is support available to help with energy efficiency.
Energy Efficiency Grants
Depending on your household income, local authorities and energy suppliers may be able to offer support to assist with energy bills and improving insulation in your home. Advice from East Cambridgeshire District Council is available here: https://www.eastcambs.gov.uk/energy-efficiency/energy-efficiency or contact your energy supplier about the ECO scheme which can provide up to £1,500 towards insulation.
Take a “whole house” “fabric first” approach
For individuals with sufficient finances to undertake a house renovation or local authorities upgrading the efficiency of residents’ homes. It is important to remember that every home is a unique and complex building. Homeowners and landlords should develop a “whole house” medium-to-long term plan, tailored to your house, for energy efficiency improvements that will reduce energy costs, make the home cosier and reduce carbon emissions.
Think “fabric first”: how can the structure of the property – walls, loft, roof, windows, floors and doors – be improved to keep out the cold and keep in the warmth? Steps may be needed alongside these improvements to maintain adequate ventilation so as not to increase condensation. Improving the fabric of your building will reduce the amount of energy you need to keep your house warm, and will also reduce your carbon emissions and energy bills. One of the first steps is draught proofing, which also happens to be one of the cheapest and easiest things you can do to reduce heat loss form your house https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOuCzuL2qeU .
Once the fabric is as good as you can make it, the next step is to decarbonise the energy services so you’re no longer reliant on gas. Low energy lighting and switching to a green energy supplier are quick wins. Solar PV with battery storage, Solar Thermal (for hot water) or an Air or Ground Source Heat Pump for heating are solutions to reduce your bills in the long term.
On these dark and cold winter nights, now is the time to plan for reducing our contribution to climate change, a cosier home and to save on energy bills.
Peter Bates is an East Cambs CAN and Eco Ely member, Cambridge Cleantech chair of the Sustainable Smart Homes SIG and a Domestic Retrofit and Energy Consultant
Jethro Gauld is co-chair of EastCambs CAN and is currently a Conservation Science PhD candidate at the University of East Anglia
Written by Peter Bates and Jethro Gauld