Climate Change to Take Center Stage in Next Four Years
“We want our kids to grow up in an America… that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.” That's what the president remarked in his acceptance speech Tuesday night—finally mentioning a topic that has been completely absent throughout the campaign and presidential debates.
Throughout all three debates, the topic of climate change was never mentioned--a generational first. But as the finale of the campaign took place in the backdrop of superstorm Sandy, a new opportunity to address those issues with more fervor is sure to kick off the next four years of Obama's second term.
"With his reelection, President Obama has the opportunity to fulfill the promise of his campaign and tackle the greatest challenges of our generation," said Andrew Steer, the president of the World Resources Institute, in an emailed statement to the Huffington Post late Tuesday night. "At the top of the list should be climate change -- which is already taking a serious toll on people, property, resources and the economy."
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Despite the president's high marks over the last four years for historical measures taken to increase clean energy investment and toughen fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, the administration has endured withering criticism for failing to develop an aggressive enough plan to tackle global warming. His “all of the above” energy strategy, embracing both renewable energy as well as more domestic oil and gas drilling, did little to appease either side. But the president knew he was somewhat limited in his first term—holding back just enough to retain his presidency before seriously cracking down on an issue too controversial to overdo in his first term... That's what I'm banking in on at least.
That's not to say it's going to be easy. Bigger action on climate change will require Congressional support. New proposals would have to get through the Republican controlled House and international climate talks with countries like China and India will have to be revived. Obama has already signaled that more sweeping action will be taken in upcoming years, including a clean energy standard that would require utilities to get a greater portion of their energy from renewables and a possible carbon tax (if Republicans are willing to negotiate).
There's still a long way to go, but from what's been hinted at thus far, we can expect to see a stronger “green” administration this time around. 'Bout time!
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.