UK energy and environmental policy: Play God or just have your say
You might think you can do a better job than the UK government at cutting CO2, becoming more energy efficient and deciding how Britain should move towards a low carbon economy.
Well the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change let’s you try it out – in a computer simulation, of course.
The Independent’s environment editor loves it, as he explains in a recent article:
Doing it yourself gives an unusual and vivid insight into the difficulties faced by real policymakers in grappling with our energy future. The software tool that makes it possible is called the 2050 Pathways Calculator and it is the brainchild of the blue-skies thinker at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the chief scientist, Professor David Mackay.
Granted, tweaking things like ‘commercial light and appliance demand’ isn’t as exciting to me as it is to Michael McCarthy, author of the Independent article, but it does shed some light on the many complex factors involved in energy policy and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
For example, there’s no point in increasing green power sources like wind and solar beyond a certain point, unless you get rid of all fossil fuel-based power. And even that only goes so far in cutting emissions – max 42%, according to McCarthy. To go further you need to have plentiful low-carbon travel, and consider factors such as land use, waste, freight, etc.
Of course, no one can be a dictator when it comes to energy policy – unless you’re the premier of China – but the DECC’s 2050 calculator tool lets you pretend and experiment with ways that Britain might meet its proposed 80% carbon cuts by the year 2050.
Another bit of environmental having your say is provided by the Guardian in the form of an interactive map of UK green government schemes, many of which are under threat from the Tory-Lib Dem coalition’s severe spending cuts.
You can move your mouse over 9 green schemes and see what Guardian readers had to say regarding the government’s environmental initiatives that they would like to be saved. It’s actually a bit sad, because based on what readers have written, all the departments clearly have merit.
Check it out below: