Climate Change Conference at RIBA, Day 4


Kent Walwin, Film Producer provided an interesting talk (pre-recorded) on The Sierra Leone Project. 

Craig Bellamy, football player, set up a football academy  in a village in Sierra Leone.  Context was post-war, infrastructure was ruined and electricity inconsistent.  Solar panels, and compressed air for electricity storage used to help achieve self-sufficiency for the village.  Palm oil also used to make diesel when necessary.

Carl Bennett of Intelligent Utilities presented The Green Deal – Are You In or Out?

He comes from a banking and mortgages background and now works towards energy and money-saving products.  A tiny percentage of UK residents buy green products despite savings often being available.  Green is difficult to sell.  Cost and consumer awareness vs perceived benefit.  Carl mentioned the Utility Refund company which finds refunds for customers who have been overcharged by their power supplier.  Once they have a refund they are more receptive to other ideas to save their money.

Comments included: “we are energy inefficient because heat is not highly valued”.  If you could capture your heat waste and re-use it or  sell it on there would be a lot in it for everyone  – Peter Prior

“The way we use electricity since its original invention with the coil is very inefficient”  Roy Baria.

Local generation of electricity has huge advantages over big remote power plants as they would be less vulnerable to attack or disruption.  – Dr Robin Russell-Jones.

 The Green Deal

Environmental policy (awaiting governmental backing) to have households fitted with energy-saving technology.  Once consumers get past the idea of their new energy plan ie paying off the energy saving device there will be flow-on effects.  Tradesmen will be able to register themselves and become accredited under the Green Deal.  This plan is under construction with a large amount of private funding available and awaiting government input.  For those who do not take part, incentives by the government and council may be imposed as financial penalties.

Peter Prior of Summerleaze spoke about Anaerobic Digestion and Beyond.

He has a scheme for digestors in schools for food waste.  It is feasible to be able to deal with sewarage waste.  Comments included: the Government is always ready to shoot you in the foot or tax you if you have a good idea.  Government ministers should not be solely responsible for picking the viability of projects because too many do not get the opportunity.  There is so little time and complex legislation to get through.  Simplicity of legislation would be beneficial more great ideas could flourish and less time would be wated.  More jobs would be created.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones went retrospective and summarised his 40 Point Action Plan from 1991 to outline which initiatives that he suggested to the government have actually been addressed.

How to flourish within a regulatory framework? 1991 was the time of John Major.    Thatcher followed and she was slightly more receptive during the so-called “Golden Age of Environmental Campaigning”.    The 40 point plan review found that hardly any of the intiatives have actually been carried out effectively.


Rob Moore, Director of Behaviour Change, spoke How to Create Consumer Demand for the Green Deal? 

Perceptions include – the deal is overfamiliar and not very interesting.  Assumption that schemes will be more of the same.  It is just rebranding.  Perception that subsidies will only apply for the elderly.  The risk of it being hard to understand since so many parties would be involved.  Can create a lack of trust.

For success it requires clarity, simplicity, consistency, honesty, transparency and government backing.  At this stage, all sectors involved cannot yet promote it effectively whilst the public lacks awareness of the scheme.

Professor Paul Ekins, Energy and Environmental Policy from UCL asked: Is The Government Doing Enough?

The government has a certain amount they need to do due to EU obligations.  20/20/20 by 2020 Programme.  The commitment is to a framework of:

– cut 20% in carbon emissions

– 20% renewable energy

– 20% reduction in energy use below what it otherwise would have been.

The Climate Change Act was passed in 2008.  It contains ambitious targets to reduce emissions, binding carbon targets and a clear accountability framework.

Prof. Ekins said he thought the government was doing well.  The decision of whether to invest in new gas supplies remains.  Carbon capture of gas emissions is still not proven.  Nuclear power and coal stations (built in 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s) will be closing over the next 10 years.

Kye Gbangbola, Director of Total Eco Management Ltd asked How Does the Global Reporting Initiative Work? 

Leadership in Climate Change using the Global Reporting Initiative to address the biggest challenge of our times.  Preparing a sustainibility report is difficult for some businesses so they should seek assistance.  The Climage Change Act 2008 has provisions to make reporting mandatory for all businesses.    The benefits include reducing costs, increasing profits, retaining staff, staying competitive, reducing environmental impacts, Meet 21st century challenge with 21st century solutions.  A 3-D appproach to using resources should be used in which production, distrubition and consumption should always result in the extraction or recycling of worthwhile resources from the waste products.  One interesting point is that the Olympic Stadium has the ability to be deconstruted later and reused.  It weighs less than the stadium built in Beijing.

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