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A mini power station in every building

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 August 2008 at 10:17 am

Renewable energy is at the heart of new proposals to solve the triple crunch of the credit crisis, climate change and high oil prices. The goal of ‘every building a power station’ is just one of the ideas outlined in the recently published. A Green New Deal.

The proposals put forward by the Green New Deal Group draw on Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal to counter effects of the financial crash of the late 1920s.

This comprised:
1. Strict regulation of the cause of the problem – a greedy and feckless financial sector made worse by governments thinking they had to let the market rule (this sounds familiar – is history repeating itself?).
2. The provision of funding for infrastructure from taxes on big business and the rich (which had the added bonus dramatically reduced inequality)
3. The investment of billions of dollars in infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges and dams, with the aim of getting people back to work.

Today’s Green New Deal proposes serious investment in building new energy supply systems as today’s equivalent infrastructure project. Meeting the goal of ‘every building a power station’ will involve traditional energy-saving measures such as insulation through to large-scale combined heat and power.

An accelerated uptake of renewable energy is also vital, and the Green New Deal calls on the government for ‘substantial market-enablement support. They cite the generous subsidies offered by the Japanese and Californian governments and the feed-in tariffs in Germany and Spain that have lead to massive growth in renewable energy.

Germany’s approach is all-encompassing and I can’t understand how our government can claim to be leading the way on carbon reduction in Europe when it does so little in comparison. Germany offers low-interest loans for older properties to reach the energy standards of new-build. Its feed-in tariff guarantees that anyone generating electricity from solar panels, wind turbines or hydro gets paid four times the market rate for it. As a result the German renewables sector has created 250,000 new jobs. That sounds like good news on several fronts.

There’s lots more interesting ideas in A Green New Deal. I hope that lots of our politicians have it on their summer reading list and are brave enough to take its suggestions on board. If you want to take it to the beach with you, it’s available to download from the New Economics Foundation.

Green New Deal Group: Larry Elliott, economics editor of the Guardian; Colin Hines, co-director of Finance for the Future; Tony Juniper, former director Friends of the Earth; Jeremy Leggett, founder and chairman of Solarcentury and SolarAid; Caroline Lucas, Green Party MEP; Richer Murphy, co director of Finance for the Future; Ann Pettifor, campaign director Operation Noah; Charles Secrett, advisor on sustainable development; Andrew Simms, policy director, the new economics foundation By

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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