Climate change: How HDC plans to tackle CO2

TWO houses bought by Huntingdonshire District Council to demonstrate how residents can save cash and reduce their carbon footprints could be key to achieving emissions targets. The council has installed a variety of energy-saving devices in an Eynesbury s

TWO houses bought by Huntingdonshire District Council to demonstrate how residents can save cash and reduce their carbon footprints could be key to achieving emissions targets.

The council has installed a variety of energy-saving devices in an Eynesbury semi and a detached home in St Ives to show how residents and small businesses can play their part in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

HDC's first target is to cut its own CO2 output by 10 per cent in 2010. But longer-term goals - a 20 per cent reduction on 1990 emissions levels by 2010 (which will be missed), a 34 per cent cut by 2020 and an 80 per cent reduction by 2050 - will be hit only if householders and businesses can be persuaded to take part, a council debate was told last week.

Every person in the district currently pumps an average of 10-11 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year, Matt Taylor, from the University of East Anglia's carbon reduction team told the council. That must be reduced to just two tonnes in the next 40 years if the targets are to be met.

With carbon dioxide remaining in the atmosphere for 100 years, that implies immediate and urgent action, he stressed.

But a recent survey cited by Councillor Jonathan Gray suggests 59 per cent of the population are in denial about the human causes of climate change.

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Mr Taylor advised that there were four strands to reducing emissions: not wasting energy, using more energy-efficient equipment, switching to renewable energy sources, and capturing or off-setting the remainder.

Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Peter Downes, who had introduced the debate, said HDC's record to date was creditable - it was one of the best authorities in the country for recycling and it had a credible environmental policy - but the need now was to challenge, encourage and enable residents and businesses in the district to play their part.

Cllr Gray said that, whatever the causes of climate change, there was no question that rising sea levels were making the effects worse.

"Our philosophy is that being green should not be about being huddled in a cold house with a couple of low-energy light-bulbs, that we give up flying and our cars and start cycling. We need to make big technological leaps again."

He said 2,000 homes in St Neots would get cut-price insulation, starting next year, and added that a 'smart meter' trial in Warboys - soon to be extended to Somersham and with the meters available on loan from public libraries - had already cut energy consumption by 22 per cent.

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