Sometimes there are snippets of news which make you relieved, grateful or proud to be a Lib Dem. This week it was the turn of Richmond to give us something to shout about. The news that it was a Lib Dem council who became the first to propose to use it’s parking regime to encourage residents to buy more environmentally responsible cars is most encouraging. Of course, such a measure won’t do much for the environment by itself. But many such measures will reinforce the message that we all need to make more responsible choices. This week, I came across the ‘Association of British Drivers’, whose website devotes pages to claiming that global warming is just a ‘myth’, presumably made up by those of us who envy 4×4 owners. Global warming really is the biggest challenge currently facing politicians, and currently it is the Lib Dems who lead while others follow.
Electricity is not yet receiving the right kind of attention. Electricity may seem like a relatively clean form of energy, but there is an environmental cost to generating it. This week, our government mooted the idea that councils may be bribed to take nuclear waste for burial. It beggars belief that the government appears to want to build more nuclear power stations, when that is the best strategy it has for dealing with the waste from the current ones. The most frustrating thing about nuclear power is that it has such a powerful lobby behind it – when it isn’t even commercially viable! The only way we can have more nuclear power is with the help of huge subsidy from the public purse. It is time to recognise that nuclear power has been a failed experiment – and leave it there.
The real solution to our electricity dilemma rests much closer to home. Many people still have little idea about how much electricity is wasted in our homes. Now that energy saving light bulbs are cheap and plentiful – why do our shops still sell the old ones that use five times as much power? Now that we understand that all of the standby buttons in the UK could power a small city, why do new appliances still have them? Manufacturers and electrical retailers do not focus enough on promoting the most energy efficient fridges, washing machines, TVs and so on.
Best of all, if you still want to burn lots of electricity, you could always generate some of your own. I do find it heartwarming that B&Q now list wind turbines and solar panels on their website. I actually believe that microgeneration is the most attractive solution to the energy crisis. Even though this technology is in it’s infancy, it is already feasible for most houses to generate at least a third of their own energy requirements. I believe that we need to invest heavily in promoting microgeneration. Maybe some of the money could come from not building new nuclear power stations.
Maybe a Lib Dem council will take the lead in getting microgeneration off the ground in their area? I do hope so.