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#GE2015: Blue & Green backs a red, yellow and green policy coalition around sustainability

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As the national press still feels it’s their role to anoint the party of their proprietor’s choice, Blue & Green will play along. We care about democracy and the environment. Vote for Policies has gathered 718,000 votes as of midday today so we are ready to make our call – your call.

Vote for Policies has just under 352,000 votes on the environment policies. Labour (28.7%), Lib Dem (26.8%) and Greens (24.4%) have the most popular policies. They have also gathered over 284,000 votes on democracy policies. Lib Dem (27.1%), Labour (20%) and Greens (17.6%).

So here’s the Blue & Green ENVIRONMENT policy assembled from those three parties.

Labour

– The new Infrastructure Commission will prioritise investment in flood prevention. We will deal with the problems of air pollution by giving local authorities the powers they need, backed up by a national framework.

– Keep our forests in public ownership, and promote access to green spaces in local planning.

– Support the work of the Natural Capital Committee to protect and improve wildlife habitats and green spaces, and make them an important part of our thriving tourism industry.

– Expand the role of the Department of International Development to mitigate the risks of a changing climate, and support sustainable livelihoods for the world’s poorest people.

– Make the case [at the UNFCCC conference in Paris, in December 2015] for ambitious emissions targets for all countries, strengthened every five years on the basis of a scientific assessment of the progress towards the below two degree goal.

– Push for a goal of net zero global emissions in the second half of this century, for transparent and universal rules for measuring, verifying and reporting emissions, and for an equitable deal in which richer countries provide support to poorer nations in combatting climate change.

– Protect animal welfare – ending the inhumane and ineffective badger cull, maintaining the ban on hunting with dogs, and introducing a ban on wild animals in circuses.

Liberal Democrats

– In the next Parliament bring forward five green laws that will guarantee a permanently greener Britain.

– A Nature Act ­ to introduce legal targets for biodiversity, clean air, clean water and access to green space, establish the Natural Capital Committee in law, extend the ‘Right to Roam’ and establish new marine and coastal reserves.

– Green Buildings Act ­ to boost renewable and district heating programmes, bring in tough new energy efficiency standards for homes, and step up action on fuel poverty ­ to cut energy bills. Including a national programme to insulate homes with a Council Tax cut if you take part.

– A Resource Efficiency and Zero Waste Britain Act ­ to set Britain on a path to a ‘circular economy’, establishing a ‘Stern Report’ on resource use, with binding targets and a clear action plan to reduce waste and end landfill.

– A Zero Carbon Britain Act ­ To Strengthen the Climate Change Act targets, introduce a decarbonisation target for the electricity sector and end the use of dirty coal power stations.

– A Green Transport Act ­ To help establish a full network of charging points for electric cars, incentivise greener travel choices and update planning law and ensure new developments are designed around walking, cycling and public transport.

Greens

– Take urgent action on climate change to cut UK emissions of greenhouse gases by 90% on 1990 level by 2030, and work with other countries to hold the increase in global temperatures to below 2 degrees.

– Ban fracking, phase out coal power by 2023 and nuclear power within 10 years.

– Invest more than £80 billion over the Parliament in a major public programme of renewable generation, flood defences and building insulation.

– Promote a new Nature and Wellbeing Act to provide a new, stronger legal framework for the protection of landscapes and wildlife.

– Protect, expand, properly fund and improve non­car access to National Parks, and expand the UK’s network of Marine Conservation Zones.

– Help bees by reducing dramatically the use of pesticides, banning neonicotinoids, ‘greening’ farming, improving planning guidelines and making bees a priority species in biodiversity strategies.

– Foster and support sustainable farming methods, and enforce strict animal welfare standards.

– End the inhumane and unscientific badger cull.

So here’s the Blue & Green DEMOCRACY policy assembled from those three parties.

Liberal Democrats

– Reform the House of Lords with a proper democratic mandate starting from the 2012 Bill.

– Get big money out of politics with a £10,000 cap on donations and reform of party political funding.

– Reform our voting systems for elections to local government and Westminster. We will introduce the Single Transferable Vote for local government elections in England and for electing MPs across the UK, while transferring responsibility for the local government election system in Wales to the Welsh Assembly.

– Better democracy with votes at 16.

– Delivering on promises made to Scotland and the rest of the UK and transfer more powers from Westminster and Whitehall to the nations and communities of the UK.

– “Devolution on demand” to transfer more power and control to areas within England.

– Pass a new Freedoms Act, to protect citizens from excessive state powers and improve rights of access to information.

– Protect your privacy by updating data laws for the internet age with a Digital Bill of Rights.

Labour

– Set up a people led Constitutional Convention to determine the future of UK’s governance.

– Replace the House of Lords with a Senate of the Nations and Regions.

– Pass an English Devolution Act, handing £30 billion of resources and powers to our great English city and county regions.

– Give new powers for communities to shape their high streets, including power over payday lenders and the number of fixed odds betting terminals.

– Meet our promises to devolve further powers to Scotland and Wales.

– Give 16 and 17­year­olds the vote.

– Create a statutory register of lobbyists.

– Ban MPs from holding paid directorships and consultancies.

Green

– Support the establishment of a People’s Constitutional Convention to agree radical changes to the governance of the UK. We will push the Convention for a new settlement that includes:

– Proportional representation for parliamentary elections.

– A written constitution and a Bill of Rights.

– The extension of the right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds.

– A reformed House of Lords ­ a fully elected body chosen by proportional representation.

– A fair system of state funding for political parties, so there’s no longer a need for reliance on private and trade union donations, which can have a corrupting effect, and ensure that all lobbying is registered and fully disclosed.

– Aspire to a 50:50 Parliament by 2025 with equal numbers of women and men.

– Restore Legal Aid so that everyone can afford to use the law.

You can still see which party’s policies most matches your own views by using the Vote for Policies survey here, or see your local Vote for Policies results here. To see the how parties are doing by policy across the country take a look here. To see the newly released Guide to Sustainable Democracy, click here.

Photo: yarranz via Freeimages

Further reading:

#GE2015: Will Northern Ireland Vote for Policies?

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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