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Local elections preview: UKIP

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Struggling to decide who to vote for in the local elections on Thursday May 2? Don’t worry, as all this week, Blue & Green Tomorrow is outlining the energy, environment and investment credentials of all five major parties.

We’ve already covered the ConservativesLabourthe Liberal Democrats and the Greens. The final piece of the jigsaw is the UK Independence Party – or UKIP – whose leader is south-east MEP Nigel Farage.

For a full list of local authorities that are voting, and for more details on the elections more generally, see here.

Responsible investment

With national independence a core principle for UKIP, the Bank of England is seen as a crucial player in the banking sector. In its 2010 manifesto, UKIP said it intended to restore responsibility to the Bank for overseeing the UK banking system: “Banks will have to increase minimal capital ratios from the current 4% to at least 8% of total assets.”

UKIP also felt that the Bank should “enforce a rigid division between retail banks and investment banks (where much instability has occurred)”:

Retail banks will be allowed only to take deposits from private and commercial customers and advance loans to the same customers up to the limit of their deposits, guaranteed by the [Bank of England]. Investment banks will be free to raise money by bonds and shares, but will not be allowed to take deposits.”

UKIP planned for a “25-year programme of building nuclear power stations that will provide Britain with 50% of its future electricity demand”. The estimated cost of this was to be £3.5 billion per year.

Environment

According to the 2010 manifesto, UKIP “accepts that the world’s climate changes, but we are the first party to take a sceptical stance on manmade global warming claims”. UKIP subsequently adopts the idea that global warming is not as disastrous as many are making it out to be.

We do not […] regard CO2 as a pollutant. It is a natural trace gas in the atmosphere which is essential to plant growth and life on Earth. Higher CO2 levels increase agricultural crop yields and ‘green’ the planet. Manmade CO2 emissions amount to only around 3% of the natural carbon cycle.”

Energy

UKIP sees most renewable technology as expensive and highly ineffective, especially compared to more established forms of energy. The party planned to discontinue all renewable energy subsidies and feed-in tariffs. There was also the plan to oppose wind farms in general and stop and further projects being developed.

Most current schemes have proved uneconomic, often operating at less than a third of capacity – sometimes less than a tenth – thereby producing a derisory amount of power.

“[Because turbines don’t run on capacity] we must have additional conventional capacity to back-up wind. We’re paying twice for the same capacity — once for the wind turbines, and again for the back-up. It’s fair to ask: why build the turbines at all? Why not just build the gas?

Furthermore, UKIP says, “We are against widespread use of wind and solar, which offer an unpredictable and intermittent trickle of very expensive electricity, requiring 100% back-up. These renewables undermine economic competitiveness, damage our economy and threaten security of energy supply.”

That said, the party is not completely against renewable technologies, citing hydroelectricity as a worthy energy source, whilst also believing tidal power may provide a beneficial and competitive supply.

With that in mind, the party pledged to increase nuclear power generation to provide up to 50% of the UK’s electricity. It believes strongly in nuclear, particularly due to developing technologies – such as thorium and fusion – are making waste less problematic.

Nuclear requires massive up-front investment, but once the plant is in place, it delivers low-cost electricity, consistently, for decades, so that the overall lifetime electricity cost is highly competitive, even after factoring in the costs of waste disposal and subsequent decommissioning.”

UKIP also encourages the need for more gas, be it natural or shale.

Promising research is underway on the recovery of natural gas from methane hydrates. These are found in the sea-bed around the edges of the continental shelf. Confirmed and inferred deposits could provide gas for decades or even centuries.

UKIP is concerned that while the US, Canada, Russia and Japan are working on methane hydrates, Britain has little involvement. Our long experience of offshore drilling should be exploited in this area.”

The party would like to “repeal the UK’s Climate Change Act and return to a Department of Energy”, as they view the Act as “in vain”. UKIP feels that the Act is not only pointless but also expensive.

[The] Act is one of the most expensive ever passed in peace time, threatening costs of £18 billion a year for 40 years.

For every job created in the renewable sector, four jobs are destroyed elsewhere in the economy.

The renewable industry is unsustainable. It needs massive ongoing public subsidy. Such levels of subsidy are unaffordable, especially in current economic times. These subsidies are also profoundly regressive. They take money from poor consumers, including pensioners, and give it to rich landowners and corporations.”

We believe that nuclear is a vital part of the energy mix. Despite the black propaganda of the green movement, and the quite understandable concerns of the public following the Fukushima incident, nuclear remains the safest mainstream generating technology available — far safer than coal or hydro.”

Joseph Iddison is a student in his final year of an English degree at the University of Leicester.

Joseph Iddison is a master’s student at the University of Leicester. Having graduated from the same institution in July 2013 in English, Joseph will start the global environmental change course in September.

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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