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MPs back UK100 proposals in Green Finance Report

People like investing in places and people they know. This truth, somewhat overlooked in much discussion about the barriers to investment that will help us stop catastrophic climate change, underpins some important recommendations in the report by the Environmental Audit Committee into Green Finance.

While exploring the recent stalling in clean energy investment, the committee identifies a number of specific proposals that can help unlock the green finance that so many insist is available but is not flowing. And investment in place and in communities features strongly. Why? Because the transformation of our energy system can’t simply be done by “grand projets” of the old school. Instead local, integrated projects that bring together a range of proven technologies in one place are key to a successful transition to a fossil fuel free economy.

Successful and resilient energy systems in the future will be decentralised for a couple of reasons. Heat and transport will necessarily be decarbonised locally. Moving around and heating buildings happen in a specific place: national standards and policies will make this possible, but local decisions will deliver. Furthermore as more electricity is generated locally (by wind, sun, tidal or hydro) it will be closer to where it is used. Electric vehicles won’t just consume power but can store it too. Storage will enable renewable generation to be used when it is needed not just when it is generated, and smart systems will enable consumers to be savvier about when and how they use energy too.

But big investors like a big project: it is no surprise that offshore wind and solar farms have taken off as costs have dropped. They are only part of the picture however and unless and until local integrated clean projects are at scale and de-risked there are still barriers to success.

UK100, the network of UK cities committed to 100% clean energy by 2050 has skin in this game. The local leaders that make up our network want to be able to transform their communities into ones that not only are protected from the unavoidable impacts of irreversible climate change but also develop the jobs, skills and industries that clean energy offers. Our Report “Financing the Transition” is echoed by the Committee in its recommendations to build capacity in local government and the need for development capital for projects to be “investor-ready”.

Local Authorities are well-placed to lead on the cleanup of our energy system: they have policy levers in a number of sectors which need new cleaner and smarter forms of energy, from social housing and building standards, to public transport, licensing, regeneration and planning.

UK100 has good examples of the kind of innovation that is needed. Nottingham is one of our leading members, developing subsidy-free community energy in private housing developments (Project ScEne), as well as energy efficiency projects that pay for themselves and tackle fuel poverty in low-income neighbourhoods (the EnergieSprong model). Peterborough made the most of Feed-In Tariffs to supply solar panels to residents and generates income to protect frontline services: a key driver of innovation as local government finances continue to be tight. Leeds Hydrogen project has the ambition to decarbonize heat in the city.

Many of the ideas that local authorities are developing are based on proven technologies, but are seeking scale and the right business model in order to attract investment. The innovation that is required is in finance, not technology. This is less a challenge for engineers now, and more for developers and investors.

The Report by the EAC outlines a number of changes that have happened recently that might be behind the stalling of clean energy investment, from the premature end of the Renewables Obligation, the reduced Feed-In Tariffs, to the cancelled the Zero Carbon Homes policy and cancelled the £1 billion Carbon Capture & Storage competition.

The possible end to access to the European Investment Bank as a result of Brexit might make some of these projects less likely in the future. A similar kind of facility, designed to enable our nation to meet its legal obligations under the Climate Change Act and its commitments at Paris is essential, if access is withdrawn.

Imagine if there was a set of technologies and infrastructure that, if invested in, would kick start our sluggish economy and create greater resilience in our energy system? That would keep costs to consumers low and would help us tackle some of our biggest public health crises? Those are the technologies and projects that need to be developed, at scale, with residents’ and businesses’ needs at their heart : local leaders are keen to meet that challenge – it is welcome that MPs recognize this ambition. Now it is for government to respond with an active industrial strategy and more innovative financial models that could make 100% clean energy a reality in the UK.

UK100 Clean Air Commitment

Local Elections 2018:  UK100 Clean Air Commitment

The UK100 Clean Air Commitment is designed to give all local election candidates, but especially group leaders, the chance to show they are taking seriously the issue of air pollution in their community. It consists of four pledges, at least three of these need to be taken on by parties locally for it to be officially accepted as a commitment.

PLEDGE 1: Have a Cabinet Member with “Clean Air” in their title

A named portfolio holder shows a commitment from an administration to this issue and ensures clear and visible accountability for tackling air pollution.

PLEDGE 2: Have tangible proposals to plan out dirty air

We need a real shift in transport from an over-reliance on cars to walking, cycling and affordable public transport that is accessible to all. Solutions might include some of the following:

o Reducing the number of parking spaces in new-build homes

o Electric car charging points

o Bike stores and racks at transport hubs

o Pedestrianising shopping streets or introducing zero emission streets,

o Charging diesel cars more for parking

o School streets – where cars are banned near schools

PLEDGE 3: Have a partnership body or steering group that includes members of the public and the local businesses community.

Residents’ support is critical for adopting and implementing any change to our current polluting lifestyles. If they are involved and supportive of the actions and plans by the local authority they will support measures as ambassadors to build support across their community.

PLEDGE 4: Have a pledge adapted to local needs      

Every context is different, so UK100 asked council and party leaders to show commitment and understanding of local issues by pledging to one ambitious additional project. Ideas could include:

o Adoption of hybrid/EV council vehicle fleets

o Support for cleaner taxis

o Bike hire schemes

o Support a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) or even a Zero Emissions Zone (ZEZ) to be implemented locally

In London, PLEDGE 4 is to support the ultra-low emission zone extension to at least the North and South Circular and low emission zone for HGVs.

What is Clean Energy?

UK100 encourages local leaders to adopt policies that will make a zero carbon economy a reality in their communities. Clean energy, generating power and heat from renewable sources, and developing technologies that reduce the carbon emissions of energy intensive industries, are key to a successful transition away from dependence on dirty fossil fuels.

The way we get there will change as the costs of technologies fall and the solutions we develop to manage demand and get smarter with our energy use increase.

That’s why our funders commissioned IPPR to develop a plan for the whole of London to paint a picture of what is possible by one city and one leader to make the shift.

Of course the levers that leaders have vary according to the powers they have. And ensuring this works for local residents, encouraging new industries and jobs, designing warmer, healthier homes is essential.

There are also global scenarios for the development of clean energy, which are regularly updated. In 2015, the energy [r]evolution estimated that:

“By 2050, 92% of the electricity produced worldwide will come from renewable energy sources in the basic Energy [R]evolution scenario. ‘New’ renewables – mainly wind, Pv, CSP and geothermal energy – will contribute 68% to the total electricity generation.”

You can read more of the report here (the key bit is on p86)

Is it just about renewable electricity?

No. We have so much more to do than just clean up our power supply. Heat is still mostly dependent on gas in the UK (and if you live off the gas grid you may be dependant on oil or coal), and some of our most important heavy industry (steel, chemicals and cement) may still depend on carbon-based sources of energy.

UK100 promotes the adoption of clean energy by local leaders.  While much of that will be across their own authority functions and activities (housing, transport, waste management) there is also an important role for their leadership in their wider community and local economy, for example in securing EV charging points, driving energy efficiency or innovative experiments such as Leeds’ H21 project piloting hydrogen in the gas grid.

 

We also encourage leaders in industrial regions, such as the Tees Valley, to show leadership in the adoption of low carbon and clean energy solutions, such as the deployment of CCS technology and CCS-ready energy generation. 

UK100 is pleased to support such ambitions, to enable our most energy intensive industries to be part of the transformation of our economy to zero carbon by 2050.

Carbon Capture and Storage has a prominent role to play in that transition. Closing down our industrial base is not an option in the pursuit of our international climate commitments.  By delivering new technologies, we can continue to grow our economy, while also contributing to radical reductions in carbon emissions. 

Southampton will be powered by clean energy by 2040, can other cities match us?

Like many cities across the UK and the world, Southampton celebrated Earth Hour on Saturday. We switched off the lighting of our biggest landmarks to remind ourselves of the Earth’s precious resources and that how we use them makes a difference to whether we tackle climate change or not.

But the battle against climate change isn’t about living in the dark: the shift to clean energy and away from fossil fuels is a hard-headed economic decision as well as an environmentally responsible one.

Southampton is now joining the club of nearly 70 British towns and cities that are committed to shift to 100 per cent clean energy by 2050. Indeed Southampton is going even further – committing to reach that goal by 2040.

When we make the commitment in our city, we do it not just for the planet but because it is good for the people we serve. It will enable us to create jobs and growth in a way that is less dependent on fossil fuels, making our communities both healthier and wealthier.

Southampton has been getting on with cleaning up energy supply for years – so is well placed to achieve this. We have harnessed our own local clean energy sources, to create the UK’s first geothermal power scheme. It started initially to supply only the Southampton Civic Centre, but now its users include TV studios, a hospital, a university, a shopping centre, residential buildings and a hotel – as well as public and private-sector residential developments. The district energy network has also been designed to integrate additional low or zero-carbon technologies as they evolve. We are ahead of our target to cut CO2 emissions from our own estate  – and have done so every year but one since 2010. Long-term thinking and determination underpin our success.

But there is lots more to do: from shifting transport to cleaner vehicles, making it easier to walk, cycle and use the bus to get around town to work and to play, saving us all money by making our homes and workplaces more energy efficient, and using cleaner forms of energy for heating our homes and workplaces are all important. The city council is in discussions with the university about the feasibility of tidal lagoons providing a source of energy on the River Itchen, possibly in conjunction with a new Light Rail line linking us to Portsmouth. Research suggests we could generate 25 per cent of our energy needs from this source alone

The most immediate impact of dirty energy is on our air: Southampton is a port and freight lorries as well as big ships contribute to the problem. It affects the oldest, the youngest and the poorest, but everyone else can’t escape. By working together with other cities we can come up with solutions that work for the locality but can also be applied elsewhere.

Clean Air Zones are a start, but supporting cleaner vehicles, through procuring them for the council fleet, putting in charging points for electric cars, and finding new ways to move freight about that means fewer big dirty trucks on our roads are all possible with political will and technological savvy.

We see cleaning up our air as part of our shift to an economy without fossil fuels that poison people as well as the planet. Like with dirty air, the poorest and ordinary working people will feel the impacts of climate change first and hardest. It will be them who can’t get insurance for their business, or find their homes flooded out as extreme weather becomes more common.

And though it sounds difficult, the costs of not acting are much greater than of shifting now to cleaner energy. Solar power on buildings (ask any big property owner what are they doing with their roof?), storing electricity to use when you need, using heat from industry to warm our homes, and keeping our energy bills down with smart technology are all possible in a way that five years ago they were not.

Businesses are already doing this. RE100 is a campaign of big businesses, from Jaguar Land Rover to Marks and Spencer, all committed to 100% renewable electricity. They need cities to work with them to make this a reality, and cities need business to adopt the clean energy agenda too: we can work together on this.

Around the time of the Paris climate negotiations in 2015 there was a global movement for local leaders to make the commitment where nation states are often failing. The science of climate change needs political will and practical delivery, which is why UK cities’ and towns’ commitment is so important. But the shift is happening because it makes business and economic sense as well as environmental sense.

The leadership of cities like Southampton makes a difference: encouraging new businesses to come up with new products and processes will create jobs and ensure the city is ahead of the game in the new industrial revolution.

Having a network of UK cities working together also actually creates a bit of healthy competition: why would we leave it to China, if we can do it here, now?

Simon Letts – Leader of Southampton city council.

What is Clean Energy?

Street lights are changing. Thanks to the latest LED technology, they’re becoming cleaner, cheaper and more reliable. The councils installing them are saving money and reducing their carbon footprint. But how many councils are being left in the dark over the benefits of LEDs?

10:10 Climate Action recently worked with the energy expert Chris Goodall to look into the details of switching. Our findings estimate that if all the UK’s councils switched to LEDs they’d save over £200 million per year combined – enough to provide an extra 12 million hours of social care support for older and disabled people in their own homes. The more efficient lighting would also prevent 600,000 tonnes of carbon emissions a year – that’s the equivalent of taking 400,000 new cars off the road.

There are a number of financing options available to councils to fund a switch to LED street lights, including the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB), the Salix Energy Efficiency Loans Scheme (SEELS), the Green Investment Group and commercial lenders.

Liverpool city council converted 21,000 old sodium street lamps to modern LEDs. It has invested £11m from their capital budget since 2014, but is already saving £1.5m every year in maintenance and energy bills.

Conventional lights have to be replaced after four to six years, but LEDs can last for over 20 years. This cuts waste and also saves on maintenance. Councils with LEDs have already seen energy savings of up to 50-70%. This can rise as high as 80% when combined with smart sensors and controlled from a Central Management System. This is only possible because LEDs (unlike old bulbs) can be brought back to full brightness instantly – so they can be dimmed or turned off when not needed.

One of the councils investing in a CMS is Southend on Sea. They switched all of the town’s 14,500 street lights to modern LEDs. The £13.5 million cost was funded through the Green Investment Bank and a grant from the Department for Transport. The CMS, which allows the Council to brighten and dim individual lights, not only maximises the energy savings, but also helps to meet the needs of their residents.

Leicester City Council have converted over 32,500 street lights, saving £1m a year in electricity costs, and the equivalent of 5,350 tonnes of CO2. Leicester Assistant City Mayor for energy and sustainability, Cllr Adam Clarke, said: “It’s a very worthwhile scheme bringing environmental benefits, lower running and repair costs and freeing up money as a result to use elsewhere.”

A note of caution: LED streetlights with too a high proportion of blue light have sometimes proven controversial. Cardiff City Council have modelled best practice here, earning recognition from the International Dark Skies Association for their use of ‘warm white’ <3000 Kelvin LED lanterns, which reduce sky glow and help to tackle light pollution.

Whilst the benefits of LEDs have been known for a while, some councils have been slow to switch. By 2014, only 10% of councils had switched to LED streetlights, with the most recent estimate suggesting this has only increased to 20%.

That’s why 10:10 Climate Action have launched the Lighten Up campaign, asking councils to make the most of the benefits of LEDs and take a pledge to switch their street lights within five years.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment & Transport, who signed the 10:10 pledge on behalf of Islington Council, said, “By investing to save, Islington Council will have more resources available to protect frontline services, and will reduce the impact our borough has on the environment. That’s why we are proud to be delivering this project and proud to be signing up to 10:10’s ‘Lighten Up’ campaign.”

Both councils at the beginning of their switch to LED and those who are already upgrading are welcome to sign the pledge to showcase their work, and encourage others to act. For more info, please contact Neil Jones, projects manager at 10:10 Climate Action, neil.jones@1010uk.org

Neil Jones – Project Manager at 10:10

Work With Us

Job Title: Campaigns Assistant (Part-Time)
Date Added: 1 May 2018
Closing Date: 21 May 2018

Location: London

Salary: £24,000 to £26,000 pro rata per annum (21hrs per week)

Job Details:

Reporting to: Campaigns Manager (60%) / Clean Air Cities Director (40%)
Hours per week: 21 (to be worked flexibly over 3 to 5 days)
Contract type: 6 Month Fixed Term Contract (With potential to renew)
Internal relationships: Director, Campaigns Manager, Clean Air Cities Director

Purpose of the role:

  • To assist in the day to day campaign duties of the team, supporting the Campaigns Manager and Clean Air Cities Director with diary management.
  • To assist with policy research, facilitate events (London summit, LGA conference/Party conferences), social media, website, database management and newsletters

Key responsibilities

  • To managed and facilitate events (London summit, LGA conference/Party conferences)
  • To manage the organisations social media presence and website, accurately manage the database and produce the monthly newsletter
  • To assist in communications with external stakeholders, campaign bodies, political organisations, NGOs, local authorities and business
  • To draft content and articles for the UK100 website, newsletter and other outlets
  • To produce digital content as instructed by the Campaigns Manager and Clean Air Cities Director
  • To arrange meetings and prepare appropriate papers as requested
  • To conduct mapping of the local authorities and their key stakeholders
  • To progress chase on action points from meetings and phone calls with both internal and external stakeholders
  • To undertake research and projects as directed by the UK100 Director, Campaigns Manager or Clean Air Cities Director
  • To undertake any other reasonable duties as requested

Personal specification

Essential requirements

  • 6 months to 1+ year(s) experience in a campaigns, public affairs or parliamentary role
  • A genuine commitment to the values and ethos of UK100
  • Ability to travel to different local authorities across the UK as and when necessary
  • Desirable requirements
  • Previous experience working or interning in an environment charity, energy company, campaign body or political organisation
  • Good working knowledge of the UK political system, with an emphasis on local authorities and their interaction with central government
  • Understanding of working in/with NGOs or small charitable organisations
  • Good knowledge of energy and environmental issues
  • Experience of working closely with elected representatives.

Closing Date: 21 May 2018

Interview/Start Dates

Please send in applications by midday.

1st and 2nd stage interviews to be held in week commencing May 21st.

Application Details

Interested applicants should send an updated CV and supporting statement to jobs@uk100.org

In your supporting statement please outline in two pages or less how your experience pertains to the position and what your understanding is of the challenges and opportunities facing climate campaigners in the UK.

The UK100 Pledge

As leaders across Britain we see the challenges our communities face and acknowledge our responsibility to secure the future for them and for people around the world when faced with the challenge of a changing climate.

The people who live in the towns and cities we serve deserve warm homes, secure and affordable energy, to breathe clean air, drink clean water and live in a town or city of which they can proud.

This will help us ensure we keep the lights on, generate our own power for our nation, protect consumers from high and unstable energy prices and end our dependence on imported fuel from states we would rather not rely on.

The future we face requires ambition and imagination so that our children can have a safe and secure future, so we will take action that tackles climate change but also builds cities which are the best places for our children to grow up.

We have a crisis: we have a responsibility to deal with it.

We are uniquely placed to contribute to the solutions we need, because of our industrial past and we have demonstrated throughout our history that we are able and willing to lead on finding solutions to the new challenges the world faces.

We have the ambition of making all our towns and cities across the UK 100% clean before 2050, in line with the commitments made nationally and internationally at the Paris Summit.

We hope other towns and cities across the globe will join us to demonstrate that this transition will happen through acts of leadership, and that a transition to a clean energy future is both viable and already beginning to happen in many towns and cities today. Our UK towns and cities are committed to making a better future for all.