Protests drive progress. From Rosa Parks on an Alabama bus to the ‘tank man’ in Tiananmen Square; these are the people that have effected real societal change. But a recent attempt to push sustainable energy to the fore has been met with a multi-million pound lawsuit.
The public outcry against energy giant EDF has been overwhelming – ever since the firm decided to sue protest group No Dash for Gas for £5m over their occupation of the power station at West Burton.
At time of writing, over 28,000 people had signed a petition on Change.org, calling for EDF to drop its legal action against the campaigners, while many others have taken to social networks to vent their anger at the energy firm, for whom, the saga is turning into a PR disaster.
The 21 activists involved face bankruptcy and homelessness if they are indeed forced to pay the £5m sum – which EDF says is to make up for profits lost during the No Dash for Gas protest, when it was forced to close down operations at the plant for seven days.
Eight out of 10 people in a recent government poll said they supported renewable energy, which can be translated into eight out of 10 people recognising the impact of dirty, polluting fossil fuels and wanting the UK to focus on clean, sustainable alternatives instead.
It would therefore be surprising, given EDF’s actions, to find that the remainder have links to one of the big six energy firms. After all, as American author Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
Throughout history, much of society’s progress has depended on protests – peaceful or otherwise. Whether you agree or disagree with the motives of the No Dash for Gas protesters, their right to vent frustration at EDF remains.
It is therefore deplorable on the French energy giant’s part to inflict such personal grief on the campaigners for a protest in which no-one was hurt, no-one died and no houses were left in the dark or without heat. In fact, the seven-day protest prevented an estimated 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide being emitted into our fragile atmosphere.
No Dash for Gas shouldn’t be criticised for their protest; they should be celebrated.
However, what is baffling is the reasoning behind EDF’s legal action.
This is a company for whom the £5m figure represents less than half a per cent of its annual profits, while its chief executive, Vincent de Rivaz, scoops in a cushy pay-packet well in excess of £1m a year. So while it may mask its action by claiming loss of profits, it clearly doesn’t need the money.
But as George Monbiot hypothesised in The Guardian on Monday, EDF’s lawsuit looks incredibly like a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation – or a SLAPP.
“SLAPPs are attempts to bully people into political submission through inordinate demands. Their purpose is to terrify and enmesh”, Monbiot writes.
“Even if they stand no chance of success, they ensure that campaigners who might otherwise have been trying to protect the environment or to defend workers’ rights are instead snarled up in the courts. Often, whatever the merits of the case, people will agree to leave the company alone if it drops the suit.”
As with the popular biblical tale, it would be foolish to bet against David – despite Goliath’s greater power and resources.
EDF may be successful in its legal action, but the damage to its reputation and brand may be irretrievable. Rumours on social networks say that even EDF employees, along with workers from the West Burton power plant (which was bought by the French energy giant in 2001), have added their name to the Change.org petition: remarkable if true.
One can only speculate how many customers it has lost because of No Dash for Gas’ campaign.
The Committee on Climate Change – the government’s own climate advisers – claim a dash for gas could be illegal, and make it nigh on impossible for the UK to meet its carbon reduction targets. Politicians aren’t taking action, so it’s down to the people to effect change.
American anthropologist Margaret Mead’s famous quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”, could have been said specifically about No Dash for Gas.
Their week-long occupation of a Nottinghamshire power station last October by a group of 17 protesters could well be looked back upon as the beginning of a cultural and political transformation when it comes to energy. No Dash for Gas could be to the climate movement what Rosa Parks was for racial discrimination; what ‘tank man’ was to people ruled by oppressive regimes worldwide.
Now is the time for protest. Now is the time for change.
How Going Green Can Save A Company Money
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
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.
5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable
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 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.