The Ham & High has printed my letter below about the UK’s world-leading decarbonisation of its electricity supply and highlighting about two areas where Camden Council’s own policies have gotten in the way of taking advantage of that massive decarbonisation.
This week, it was revealed that the UK generates more electricity from renewable electricity than from fossil fuels for the first time ever. Since the Conservatives took office in 2010, renewables have increased seven-fold to over 40% of all generation, while coal has fallen from 30% to less than 1%.
As I noted in last week’s Camden Council debate on climate change, this decarbonisation of our electricity supply gives us lots of opportunities to switch away from other fossil fuels and slash our emissions: opportunities not taken up by Camden under Labour.
A fifth of all UK emissions – and even more in Camden – come from household gas boilers. Yet Camden’s own planning policies actively discourage heating and cooling from electricity sources, even when they replace gas boilers.
So when residents propose spending their own money on reducing emissions, Camden’s planning policies say no. If we’re serious about combatting climate change, Camden has to get out of the way of residents trying to reduce their emissions.
Instead, Camden and local universities and hospitals have spent tens of millions on gas-fired district heating, despite the Committee on Climate Change finding these are far more expensive, far less effective at reducing emissions, and worse for air quality than heat pumps.
Camden’s Cabinet member for the Environment this week tweeted yet another of his beloved attacks on electric cars, while linking to a paper that shows they emit 85% less air pollution than petrol cars.
And, of course, thanks to decarbonisation, electric cars almost completely eliminate CO2 emissions – so why attack them, increase parking permit charges for them, and not roll out enough charging points for them?
Nothing can substitute for the transition from fossil fuels to clean, green electricity, which should be at the heart of everything the council does.
By 2025, almost all UK electricity will be zero-carbon. Camden has been caught offside by the dramatic improvements in energy efficiency and decarbonisation under the Conservatives. Camden cannot be serious about decarbonisation unless it’s serious about using the UK’s newly-green electricity supply.