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Co-wheels part of new Government push to promote car clubs

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Local Authorities and other public sector organisations will now have the right to contract directly with selected car club providers, including Co-wheels Car Club – the UK’s leading independent car club provider – under a brand new Government tendering framework agreement.  The new agreement will help to cut down lengthy tendering processes and is part of a drive to kickstart uptake of car club membership in the UK and to create a true sharing economy.

Co-wheels is one of only five companies chosen to be on the new preferred supplier list for car clubs and car sharing announced by the Crown Commercial Services – the Government body responsible for improving and promoting government and commercial procurement activity.   They will now be able to work directly with interested public sector organisations to set up new car club schemes more quickly, helping to reduce air pollution and reducing the numbers of cars on UK roads.

Pierre Fox, Commercial Director at Co-wheels said: “We are delighted to be included on the Government’s preferred supplier list for car club schemes.  We are the only independent supplier on the list and one of only two SMEs, which is a great achievement. This quicker and more direct tendering mechanism will really help the growth of car club schemes across the UK making it easier and quicker for public sector organisations to contract directly with us.

“Because Co-wheels operates as a social enterprise –  the only car club on the supplier list to do so – we are not only able to offer community car clubs and pool car schemes for cities, but we also provide car clubs in rural areas and locations where there is a real need for affordable transport alternatives.”

NB Over 12 cars are removed from the roads for every car club car on the street

“More and more people are seeing car sharing as a convenient and low cost alternative to car ownership. When people sign up to a Car Club, they benefit from the flexibility of being able to book a car on a “pay as you drive” basis with none of the hassle of car ownership, parking or having to pick up keys from a hire company’s offices.   People experience all of the benefits with none of the hassle of owning a car.”

Car clubs are growing in popularity across the UK and Co-wheels has already successfully won contracts with 16 local authorities including Aberdeen, Derby City and Glasgow, supplying over 100 cars to schemes in towns and cities across the UK, in addition to its large pay-as-you-go fleet.

One of the longest running schemes is in Aberdeen where Co-wheels offers 16 electric vehicles as part of their fleet of 38 cars – the highest number of electric cars for any car share scheme across the UK.  Aberdeen’s car club is a real success story with the scheme being used by more than 1100 drivers across the city, making it one of the highest car club user rates for a scheme in the UK.

Aberdeen City Council staff are encouraged to use Co-wheels cars for business instead of their own and over 500 staff are now members.  The scheme has recently won an award at the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) Awards 2015 for Best Innovation or Demand Management Initiative Category.

Co-wheels is the largest independent Car Club operator in the UK with operations in more than 50 locations, from small villages to city centres.  As a social enterprise, it ploughs all of its profits back into expanding the community car club network, and taking more cars off the road.

Car Clubs are growing rapidly across the UK – over the past five years, there has been sustained growth in Car Club membership to over 22,500 members using almost 700 vehicles in England and Wales outside London.

Advantages of joining a car club include:

– Over 12 cars are removed from the roads for every car club car on the street, which also helps reduce parking congestion;

– Electric and hybrid vehicles help tackle air quality issues in the city centre;

– Studies show Car Club vehicles are 37% less polluting than average public-owned car.

– Car Club members are more likely to use public transport and active travel modes more as part of their personal transportation requirements.

– Car Clubs reduce congestion and parking issues in city centres.

– Just under a third of car club members would have bought a private car if they had not joined a car club, representing a deferred purchase of approximately 6,360 cars;

– Only 29% of longer term members (members for more than six months) now own a car, compared to over half who owned a car before joining a car club;

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What Does the Rising Alt-Right Movement Mean for Climate Change Propaganda?

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Time author Justin Worland penned an insightful post this summer about the increasingly divisive attitudes on climate change. Worland pointed out that concerns about climate science used to be a bipartisan focus, but have since become primarily the concern of the left.

The Alt-Right Gives Renewed Voice to Climate Change Denialism

Unfortunately, the battle is becoming more divisive than ever before. The rise of the alt-right movement has propelled climate change denialism into overdrive. The election of Donald Trump illustrates this perfectly. In 2012, Trump tweeted that climate change was a mess created by the Chinese. At the time, his statement was dismissed as a mocking jab at the current president. However, after millions of alt-right voters put Trump in office, these fears became more pronounced.

The alt-right movement is gaining steam across the Western World. This has created profound concerns about the inevitable future of climate change. Of course, not every alt-right group adheres to climate change denialism. A British paper writing service would likely publish more articles that are favorable to the climate change discussion, even if it was read primarily by right-wingers. However, that is of little solace to the rest of the world. While alt-right groups in mainland Europe may not share the American GOP’s hostility towards climate science, they will help reinforce their political capital.

Around the same time Worland published his article, his colleague at The Guardian, David Runciman wrote a piece that focused more heavily on recent developments driven by the alt-right.

“Not all climate sceptics are part of the “alt-right”. But everyone in the alt-right is now a climate sceptic. That’s what makes the politics so toxic. It means that climate scepticism is being driven out by climate cynicism. A sceptic questions the evidence for a given claim and asks whether it is believable. A cynic questions the motives of the people who deploy the evidence, regardless of whether it is believable or not. Any attempt to defend the facts gets presented as evidence that the facts simply suit the interests of the people peddling them.”

Does this mean that the quest to fight climate change has been lost? No. A new generation of right wingers are beginning to break the cycle of climate change denialism. According to recent polls, millennial conservatives are much more likely to be concerned about the future of climate change then they’re older conservative brethren. They may help turn the tide of the political discussion, so climate change can once again be a bipartisan concern.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of concerns:

  • Millennials are less politically active, so they may not have the influence necessary to temper the alt-right position on climate change.
  • The alt-right has significant control over the discussion. Trump has taken efforts to bar studies that contradict his position on climate change. Millennial attitudes on climate science make shift after being exposed to alt-right propaganda.

The biggest concern of all is that it may be too late to address the problem by the time millennials have any meaningful political influence.

So what can be done to address the issue? Climate change advocates must be more diligent than ever. They will be combating a group of climate change deniers with a lot more political support. They will need to make the case that fighting climate change is not a political concern, but a concern of human survival.

With concerns about climate change mounting, they will also need to make it one of their primary ballot points during coming elections. If they create enough of a protest, they may be able to turn the tide of discussion.

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How Home Automation Can Help You Go Green

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The holidays are an exciting, nostalgic time: the crispness in the air, the crunch of snow under your boot, the display of ornate holiday lighting up your home like a beacon to outer space, and the sound of Santa’s bell at your local Walmart.

Oh, yeah—and your enormous electric bill.

Extra lights and heating can make for some unexpected budgeting problems, and they also cause your home to emit higher levels of CO2 and other pollutants.

So, it’s not just your wallet that’s hurting—the planet is hurting as well.

You can take the usual steps to save energy and be more eco-conscious as you go about your normal winter routine (e.g., keeping cooler temperatures in the home, keeping lights off in naturally lit rooms, etc.), but these methods can often be exhausting and ultimately ineffective.

So what can you actually do to create a greener home?

Turn to tech.

Technology is making waves in conservation efforts. AI and home automation have grown in popularity over the last couple of years, not only because of their cost saving benefits but also because of their ability to improve a home’s overall energy efficiency.

Use the following guide to identify your home’s inefficiencies and find a solution to your energy woes.

Monitor Your Energy Usage

Many people don’t understand how their homes use energy, so they struggle with conservation. Start by looking at your monthly utility bills. They can show you how much energy your home typically uses and what systems cost you the most.

monitor energy usage

Licensed from Shutterstock – By Piotr Adamowicz

The usual culprits for high costs and energy waste tend to be the water heater and heating and cooling system. Other factors could also impact your home’s efficiency. Your home’s insulation, for example, could be a huge source of wasted heating and cooling—especially if the insulation hasn’t been inspected or replaced in years. You should also check your windows and doors for proper weatherproofing every year.

However, waiting for your monthly bill or checking out your home’s construction issues are time-consuming steps, and they don’t help you immediately understand and tackle the problem. Instead, opt for an easier solution. Some homeowners, for example, use a smart energy monitor such as Sense to track energy use in real time and identify energy hogs.

Use Smart Plugs

Computers, televisions, and lights still consume energy if they’re left on and unused. Computers offer easy cost savings with their built-in timers that allow the devices to use less energy—they typically turn off after a set number of minutes. Televisions sometimes provide the same benefit, although you may have to fiddle with the settings to activate this feature.

A better option—and one that thwarts both the television and the lights—is purchasing smart plugs. The average US home uses more than 900 kilowatts of electricity per month. That can really add up, especially when you realize that people are wasting more than $19 billion every year on household appliances that are always plugged in. Smart plugs like WeMo can help eliminate wasted electricity by letting you control plugged-in items from your smartphone.

Update Your Lighting

Incandescent lightbulbs can consume and waste a lot of energy—35% of CO2 emissions are generated from electric power plants. This can have serious consequences for increased global warming.

To reduce your impact on the environment, you can install more efficient lightbulbs to offset your energy usage. However, many homeowners choose smart lights, like the Philips Hue bulbs, to save money and make their homes more energy efficient.

Smart lights can be controlled from your smartphone, and many smart light options come with monthly energy reporting so you can continue to find ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

Take Control of the Thermostat

Homeowners often leave the thermostat on its default settings, but defaults often result in heating and cooling systems that run longer and harder than they need to.

In fact, almost half the average residential energy use comes from energy-demanding heating and cooling systems. As an alternative to fiddling with outdated systems, eco-conscious homeowners use smart thermostats to save at least 10% on heating and roughly 15% on cooling per year.

Change your home’s story by employing a smart thermostat such as the Nest, ecobee3, or Honeywell Lyric. Smart thermostats automatically adjust your in-home temperature by accounting for a variety of factors, including outdoor humidity and precipitation. A lot of smart thermostats will also adjust your home’s temperature depending on the time of day and whether you’re home.

Stop Wasting Water

The average American household uses about 320 gallons of water per day. About one-third of that goes to maintaining their yards. Using a smart irrigation systems to improve your water usage can save your home up to 8,800 gallons of water per year.

Smart irrigation systems use AI to sync with local weather predictions, which can be really helpful if you have a garden or fruit trees that you use your irrigation system for  water. Smart features help keep your garden and landscaping healthy by making sure you never overwater your plants or deprive them of adequate moisture.

If you’re looking to make your home greener, AI-enabled products could make the transition much easier. Has a favorite tool you use that wasn’t mentioned here? Share in the comments below.

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