Why You Should Pay Attention to the Clean Energy Goals of Jerry Brown
On Monday, California Governor Jerry Brown was sworn in for an historic fourth term. Starting this final chapter in his governorship, Brown laid out a clean plan for several aspects of the state, from the economic to social.
Perhaps the part of his inauguration/state-of-the-state speech that grabbed the most attention, though, was his announcement of three specific energy and climate related goals: increase electricity derived from renewable sources from one-third to 50 percent, reduce vehicles’ petroleum use by up to 50 percent, and double the efficiency of existing buildings while making heating fuels cleaner.
While ambitious, goals like these are commonplace in energy-progressive California. What separates this new goal from the others is the timeline. Brown hopes to enact these changes by 2030—only 15 years from now. That means these changes will be more immediate and we will actually see the effects, such as more electric cars and less carbon emissions.
“’Surely one moral precept we can agree on is to stop destroying our birthplace, the only home humanity will ever have. The evidence for climate warming, with industrial pollution as the principal cause, is now overwhelming. Also evident upon even casual inspection is the rapid disappearance of tropical forests and grasslands and other habitats where most of the diversity of life exists,’" Brown said, quoting biologist and naturalist Edward O. Wilson. “With these global changes, he went on to say, ‘we are needlessly turning the gold we inherited from our forebears into straw, and for that we will be despised by our descendants.’”
Naturally, not all are thrilled about the ambitious goals. Both California Republicans and Democrats argued that more progress is needed to reach these admittedly lofty goals.
“California has been leading the country in building the low-carbon economy of tomorrow,” said Kevin de León, a Democrat who is president pro tem of the State Senate. “The ambitious goals the governor stated today are admirable, but we need to make the necessary investments in advanced technology to get us there.”
The announcement is important due to the fact that it presents a real picture of change that we could feasibly see in the next several years. Still, realism is important.
“All of this is a very tall order,” Brown added. “How we achieve these goals and at what pace will take great thought and imagination mixed with pragmatic caution. It will require enormous innovation, research and investment.”
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.