Wednesday, 21 April 2021

So just how low can you go?

So just how low can you go?

I AM not a vegetarian, let alone a vegan, and I drive a car, want to live in a warm home and enjoy holidays.

I’m also concerned about climate change and want to do something about it.

But being “green” hasn’t always had a good press in Britain, conjuring up a nasty vision of a life spent eating mung beans, cycling in winter and living in a freezing cold house because you can’t have the heating on above 17 degrees. It can be a turn-off — but it needn’t be.

The Government has committed us to “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050, which will require significant changes in our methods of energy generation and use, modes of transport and building regulation.

Challenging as this is, these changes will be positive, too, generating new jobs, clearing the air and making homes warmer and cheaper to heat.

Much of this is in the hands of central government and international action but local councils and individuals have key parts to play too.

In 2019, Henley Town Council declared a climate emergency and established the climate emergency working group, made up of councillors and residents charged with helping local people and organisations to reduce their carbon footprint.

Through this column, we’ll be sharing hints and tips for reducing your carbon footprint in key areas. We’ll be letting you know about grants and loans available to individuals and businesses to improve their energy efficiency and showcasing the impact of what we are doing locally.

We’re keen to hear from you too — please email us at enquiries@henleytowncouncil.gov.uk if you have anything you’d like to tell us.

So what is your carbon footprint? It’s not an easy or exact science to measure but a good calculator is from the World Wildlife Fund, which you can find at https://footprint.wwf.org.uk

I had a go (see above) and found that my efforts to insulate my home and use a “green” energy tariff, combined with using the car only when I have to, seem to be making a difference — but there’s still a long way to go.

So what is our working group doing? During lockdown we’ve been busy offering free energy efficiency audits to local organisations.

The d:two centre in Upper Market Place had an audit done and and I’m delighted that we were able to find grants available to them that covered part of the cost of replacing their lighting with energy efficient bulbs, which saved them money and reduced their carbon footprint.

Jeremy and Joanna Bray, leaders of Henley Baptist Church and the centre, said “We are really grateful for the support of Greener Henley and the climate emergency working group. Following our energy audit we have received a generous grant to install LED lighting in parts of the building.

“The audit will help us plan ongoing works to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs and we are currently exploring the potential for solar panels on parts of the building.”

We’ll be bringing more news, hints and tips next month. Meanwhile, do get in touch if you’d like to join us.

rchandlerwilde@gmail.com

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