Energy and climate
Approximately 90% of our energy comes from burning fossil fuels
(see diagram 5 on inside back). This creates acid rain, air
pollution and climate change. Government figures show that air pollution
causes up to 24,000 early deaths every year. Extreme weather is
becoming ever more frequent.
There is no shortage of solutions, just a chronic lack of political
will. Energy conservation and renewables must replace fossil fuel
dependency. Global greenhouse gas emissions must be cut dramatically
by international agree-ment, based on 'carbon justice' - equity
between rich and poor.
Global greenhouse gas emissions must reduce by at least 80% from
1990 levels by 2050 to avert catastrophic climate change. The UK
should reduce emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2005, and by
20% per decade after that, achieving net zero emissions by 2045.
Energy demand should be cut to a level that can be met from renewable
sources. Schemes that avoid wasteful transmission should be encouraged,
including combined heat and power plants, distribution networks
for surplus heat from industrial and sewage plants, and community-owned
wind power schemes.
Planning regulations should require new buildings to include solar
energy and grey-water recycling systems and be energy efficient.
Vendors of houses should have to supply certified energy ratings
The Green Party-authored Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 requires
local authorities to reduce domestic energy demand by 30%. The govern-ment
should provide more resources to help them achieve this.
Getting the price right
Taxes on energy should reflect the environmental impact of the
generation method, making renewable energy more price-competitive
(see Benefits of taxes on page 2).
Renewing the supply
A target of supplying 25% of energy from renewable sources by 2010
should be set. To meet it, incentives should be provided to wind,
solar, biomass, small-scale hydro and biogas generation schemes.
All support for the nuclear industry, other than research into decommissioning
and safe storage of nuclear waste, should be switched into renewables
research. Nuclear power stations and reprocessing facilities must
be decommissioned as soon as possible. Any privatised facilities
should be renationalised without compensation.
All proposed energy generation schemes should be subject to an
environmental impact assessment and existing plants required to
fit best available technology to reduce emissions.
Looked at simply, industry involves digging natural resources
out of the ground (or harvesting them) and turning them into products
-a simple process, but one that can be very dangerous. Many resources,
perfectly harmless in their natural state, are processed into highly
toxic substances and released into the environment.
We are using natural resources too rapidly and with scant regard
for the consequences. The results include climate change; ozone
depletion; acidification; increasing levels of waste and background
radioactivity; dioxins accumulating in human and animal tissue;
pollution of air, soil and water; and rising incidences of cancer
Britain lags way behind most other European countries in the
recycling league (see diagram 2 on inside front cover). The
government's response is to build more incinerators, which spread
dioxins and undermine attempts to reduce waste.
Pollution, waste and the consumption of non-renewable resources
will be reduced by many of our policies, but their regulation must
be tightened radically.
Three 'R's of waste
A Waste Reduction, Re-use and Recycling Bill should be introduced
to reduce packaging, set standards for the recycled contents of
suitable products, establish deposit schemes for re-usable materials
and stabilise the markets for recyclable materials.
At least 60% of domestic waste should be recycled by 2007 and
Landfill Tax revenues diverted to expand council recycling schemes.
Landfill and waste incineration must be phased out and digestion
plants introduced to produce biogas from sewage, agricultural, organic
and non-recycled waste.
Strict limits must be set for pollutants, using the critical load
approach for air pollution, and reducing hazardous substances in
water to natural levels by 2020. Industry should be required to
re-use, recycle or process hazardous waste on site and fit best
available technology to reduce emissions. All toxic and hormone-disrupting
chemicals must be phased out and the chemical industry converted
to biodegradable substances by 2020. Eco-taxes must be levied on
non-renewable and polluting resources, in particular aggregates,
pesticides, organochlorines, plastics and fossil fuels.
New legislation should be introduced to make producers liable for
environ-mental damage. Permitted develop-ment rights should be removed
from mobile phone masts. International agreements must be reached
to ban trade in waste, protect the genetic diversity of crop seeds,
safeguard wilderness areas such as Antarctica and minimise the disruption
to indige-nous peoples and environmental damage caused by resource