Following yesterday’s court ruling against the Government there have been angry exchanges in parliament, with ministers under pressure to take urgent action on air pollution.
Twenty seven MPs of all parties lined up to describe their constituents concerns and slam the Government for not doing more to clean up the country’s dirty air.
Neil Parish MP, Conservative Chair of the cross-party Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, tabled an Urgent Question on the humiliating High Court judgement.
Secretary of State, Andrea Leadsom MP was absent from the debate which meant junior minister Therese Coffey MP was dragged to the Commons chamber to answer questions from angry MPs.
Mr Parish kicked off the debate calling for the Government to act urgently in light of the ruling, to introduce more Clean Air Zones and provide the fiscal incentives for people to switch cleaner vehicles. He concluded his remarks by saying “clean air is a right not a privilege.”
Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment Rachael Maskell MP went next. She highlighted the ‘national scandal’ of 50,000 early deaths from air pollution and praised ClientEarth’s case. She called on the Government to ensure air quality laws are protected when the UK leaves the European Union and demanded a comprehensive plan to clean up the country’s illegal air.
Mark Field, the Conservative MP for London and Westminster, described the situation as a ‘deplorable state of affairs.’
He said: “My own constituents have had enough of the appalling need to state of air quality….We need to ensure the perverse incentives for diesel are stopped in their tracks.”
Mary Creagh MP, chair for the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee highlighted the documents revealed in evidence during the ClientEarth legal challenge, that showed the Treasury blocked measures that would help clean up air pollution. She demanded the minister worked with the Treasury and the Transport Department to “stop dirty diesel.”
Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter said “this is the second biggest avoidable killer after smoking. She needs to take a sledgehammer to the Treasury. Given this is the second defeat that government have suffered in the courts surely there is a plan to announce some action in response to the defeat. Where is it? Where are the measures?”
Jason McCartney, Conservative MP for Colne Valley, demanded that “air quality is put at the forefront of planning reforms and can we have a Clean Air Zone for Huddersfield?”
Childhood asthma is on the increase. What is the Government doing to ensure school children are protected?
Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East raised the Sunday Times investigation last year which showed 3,000 schools were in areas of toxic air pollution. She said “Childhood asthma is on the increase. What is the Government doing to ensure school children are protected?”
Oliver Colville, Conservative MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devenport called for immediate action as “Plymouth is one of the worst cities in the UK for air quality”. He talked of the “eleven year difference in life expectancy between the north east and south west of my constituency.”
Rebecca Pow, Conservative MP for Taunton Deane, urged the minister to “bring in Clean Air Zones more quickly”. She wanted “more Clean Air Zones for our towns and cities” including in her constituency.
Joan Ryan, Labour MP for Enfield North said her constituents would not be reassured by “what they’ve heard today. No specific plan. Nothing to deal with the fact we’ve got kiddies in pushchairs sucking in this poisonous NOx.”
Barry Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield, said “ This is an issue that the public are far ahead of the people here. No one in their right minds would buy a diesel car now. We need a scrappage scheme to get the filthy, belching cars and buses out of our towns and cities. We are poisoning children. That is why we need action now.”
In response, Therese Coffey repeated Defra claims that government policy had been based on the “best available evidence” despite the fact that the Judge’s ruling stated that the Government had used over optimistic modelling and knew it. But Ms Coffey also said the government accepted the court ruling and insisted that this issue was a “top priority”. She claimed that the government were working up a new plan.
ClientEarth Chief Executive James Thornton said:
“We are delighted that so many MPs for across all parties agree with us that we need urgent action from the Government to clean up this urgent public health crisis. This goes right across government so the Prime Minister must take personal control to deal with illegal levels of pollution and prevent tens of thousands of additional early deaths in the UK. The High Court has ruled that more urgent action must be taken. MPs agree. Now we need the Prime Minister to step up.”
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!