This election is undoubtably going to be an exciting one with a less than predictable outcome and with a leader of one of the main political parties standing in a Camden constituency we thought it was a unique opportunity to host an hustings focusing on climate change.
Join us from 6.30pm on Wednesday, 8 April at Camden School for Girls and hear what our candidates have to say about climate change and ensure whoever is elected hears your views on the issue. There will be opportunities to ask questions both in advance and on the evening itself.
We have confirmations from Natalie Bennet, Green Party, Will Blair, Conservative, Jill Fraser, Liberal Democrat and Sir Keir Starmer, Labour and the evening will be chaired by Stephen Tindale from Climate Answers.
You’ll need to register and registration also allows you to ask your question in advance. We won’t be able to accomodate every question but we will try to fit in as many as we can!
Many thanks to the groups supporting us in this event including Camden Friends of the Earth, Camden Cycling Campaign, 1010, the London chapter of Global Justice Now and Streetbank and a special thanks to Martins Camisuli architects for sponsoring the event.
I am always re-energised by other’s resolutions – the huge increase in the number of people cycling to work in the first week in January has inspired me to keep cycling despite the vagaries of weather and meeting no less than eight new members at Camden Friends of the Earth January meeting is leading to an exciting new campaign (of which more next newsletter).
And so it is that I am thinking also about CamdenCAN’s future and what impact we can have in reducing Camden’s carbon footprint. This newsletter, our website and twitter account are part of connecting people and organisations in Camden and inspiring them to do more.
CamdenCAN can be more than just an online presence though. Last year we developed a manifesto for sustainability to which both the Labour & Green parties here in Camden signed up to demonstrating the impact of bringing together local organisations when asking for change. With both existing MPs for Holborn & St Pancras and Hampstead & Kilburn constituencies standing down we have a fantastic opportunity to ask our local MPs to focus on climate change. I am looking at the possibility of holding a local hustings focussing on climate change and other sustainability issues and I’d be interested to hear from you if you’d like to get involved either as an individual or as a group.
Finally, as many of you will know, Prashant has recently moved to Hong Kong. It’s been great fun working with him on CamdenCAN and I wanted to thank him for all his support over the last year. His departure leaves a gap and I’d really love to hear from you if you are interested in helping me run CamdenCAN on a longer term basis.
Camden has teamed up with five north London boroughs to offer grants of up to £6,000 towards the cost of energy efficiency measures. The project also offers a subsidised Green Deal Assessment and expert advice to support you through the process, from identifying measures through to installation.
In addition, for those who live in a conservation area, Camden has recently published new energy efficiency planning guidance for conservation areas to inform residents who are considering making energy efficiency improvements to their properties.
Smart Homes grants are available to home owners, landlords and private tenants on a first-come, first-served basis for a limited time only. For more information visit the website www.smarthomes.house or call the Smart Homes advice line on 020 7527 4736 (Monday to Friday, 9am-7pm)
Post by Micaela Torterola, GreenMatch
Reducing the carbon footprint has become a common challenge for most governments around the world and especially in Europe. However, we should not let all the responsibility to governments and local authorities. Why not get brave and start reducing the carbon footprint at home?
Luckily, there is a lot to do to reduce your emissions, from simple and “free” solutions to greater investments that usually require more time and money. You should first take some minutes and think about what you do every day, what you buy, how you get from one place to another, where do the things that you consume come from? Not that you should change all of it, but yes there are some alterations that will have a very significant impact on your carbon emissions. The most popular is limiting your car usage and any other mean of transport that relies on fossil fuels. Why not bike or walk instead of taking the bus or using the car for short distances? It is not only greener, but also healthier! Walk more, bike more…
Something else that you should start doing is paying more attention to what you buy. Try not to buy industrialized food or products that have been transported a long distance to reach you. Stick to local produce, and avoid consuming fruits and vegetables that are not from the season and from your place.
Also, although this might sound a bit too obvious, it is something that most people forget. You should keep an eye on your household’s use of electricity, making sure you use lights and devices only if necessary. Moreover, to maximize your heating/cooling efficiency, you should make sure your home is properly insulated and no heat is lost due to improper glazing, or badly insulated roofs and floors.
What About Generating Your Own (and Green!) Electricity?
Now that you are thinking about optimizing your energy consumption, why not consider investing in solar technologies in order to produce your own electricity? Despite its grey and cloudy weather, the UK is showing an increasing number of solar panel installations. Especially in those areas where there is a bit more sunlight than in the rest of the country, like the south and western regions.
This behaviour can be explained with the big drop in the price of solar technologies in the past five years and also due to the Feed-In-Tariff. If you are engaged with environmental issues, you might have heard about this scheme, which means that your energy supplier will give you money for every unit or electricity you produce using renewable sources of energy. This applies not only if you sell the energy back to the national grid, but also if you use it to cover your domestic energy demand. The Feed-In-Tariff has therefore attracted many to invest in solar panels, because it means that your investment will pay back faster (on average 7-9 years) and you will actually make money out of your solar system after this period.
In brief, investing in solar is a great alternative if you are interested in reducing your carbon footprint and switching to greener habits. Solar panels harness the energy of the sun and convert it into electricity that can be used for domestic and commercial purposes. This means that you will have your own free and green energy available at home. Moreover, after some years you will make some money out of your investment. So, if you said no to solar panels because you thought they are very expensive, we are happy to inform you that although the initial investment might cause you some headaches, the long-term results will definitely make you very happy!
If you are interested in getting further information about solar suppliers, you can get free and no-obligation quotes from specialist suppliers in GreenMatch.co.uk. In this site you can also access very useful information you might like to read before investing in green energy.
In response to our government’s blinkered race for fracking, while snubbing the latest public opinion polls (74% against fracking under people’s homes without their permission, and 80% in favour of renewable energy), Camden Friends of the Earth wanted to visually capture how people FEEL about fracking – since their thoughts don’t seem to count.
And who can dispute one’s feelings?
So they’ve started asking the public to share with us their deepest fracking feelings and so far the response has been staggering. We came across many people who feel so strongly against fracking that they were well prepared to openly express their feelings in front of a camera no matter how ugly they appeared; intimidated, fearful, angry, shocked, disgusted, horrified, sad, shattered, furious, horrified, appalled, distressed…
And its not just the widespread public opposition to fracking that our government chooses to ignore, they have also disregarded the most reliable scientific expertise on earth when it comes to dealing with global warming (IPCC) who have highly recommended leaving fossil fuels in the ground.
64% of England is under consideration for controversial fracking by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. This includes most of London and the entire borough of Camden. It may not seem likely to happen in Camden, but unless we get a firm commitment from our council to block any licences for drilling in the borough, we cannot be certain that it won’t happen in our own backyard.
Even the unthinkable scenario of fracking in Hampstead Heath might become a reality after our government recently announced that planning permission may still be granted in National Parks and areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty under “exceptional circumstances”.
For those who are unfamiliar with fracking, it is a risky technique used to extract shale gas by pumping water and toxic chemicals at high pressure into the ground, cracking open and fracturing the rock deep underground in order to release natural gas.
Fracking just a single shale gas well takes approximately 15 million litres of water, while the deceivingly small proportion of chemicals used in the mix – 0.5% – actually make up a staggering amount of 75,000 litres of chemicals per well.
The UK Government has given the green light despite the fact that it contributes towards climate change, and mounting evidence from the USA and Australia that it can cause water contamination; there is plenty of footage caught on film of people setting fire to the dirty water that comes out of their taps due to the high concentration of gas that has leaked into the groundwater supply from nearby fracking sites.
The risk is especially high in the South East of England since almost 90% of our water supply comes from groundwater.
Even if the wild assumption that fracking will reduce energy bills in the future is correct, this must not come at the expense of risking contaminating our water supply, and compromising on the health of people and wildlife; particularly in our densely-populated area, with an increased risk of air pollution (which is already bad enough). Surely the answer to our energy problem lies in clean, low-impact, low-carbon and indefinitely renewable solutions such as wind and solar.
So we’re not terribly surprised to see how people react emotionally to the invasive idea of fracking, yet it’s quite spectacular to see just how wide the spectrum of emotions are out there.
If this resonates with you and you’re happy to sacrifice your good looks for the common good, please take one of the following actions:
Share with us your own #FrackingSelfie
On Twitter >> @CamdenFoE
On Facebook >> https://www.facebook.com/theuglysideoffracking
Sign our online petition to call on Camden council to publicly oppose the controversial practice of fracking in our borough: http://chn.ge/1q4YdoI
For further info about fracking –