The Importance of being Earnest

Getting building trades to work together has never been easy! This is the case whether you are building a new house or simply fitting a new shower in your bathroom at home.

Each trade seems to have their own isolated area of expertise – and plenty of opinions to go with it. Trying to get cooperation is always a trial.

The key to all this is planning, openness and honesty – we need to be earnest and open with other trades and businesses.

As Richard Branson said “delivery (of a service) is all about 2 things – attention to detail and communication”!

So, if there is more than one trade working on a job e.g. an electrician and a plumber fitting a bathroom or a solar installer working with an on-site electrician then it is imperative to get them talking as soon as you can.

Often they can help each other out in a reciprocal fashion – scratch my back and I will scratch yours.

Makes for a better job and nicer atmosphere!

Sun or Wind

UK Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has confirmed the Conservative Party’s controversial plans to stop subsidies for onshore wind farms, claiming it is top of her agenda at the Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC).

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Rudd reiterated the Tories’ manifesto pledge to effectively bring an end to the development of new wind farms on UK land, outlining her hopes for the new measures to come into force by May 2016.

The Hastings and Rye MP said: “It will mean no more onshore wind farm subsidies and no more onshore wind farms without local community support. This is really important. I’ve already got my team working on it. That’s going to be one of the first things we’re going to do.”

The Conservatives claim that onshore wind farms often fail to win public support, and are unable by themselves to provide the firm capacity that a stable energy system requires.

By contrast she also said that millions more homes should have solar panels on their roofs, vowing to “unleash a new solar revolution” across Britain. Ms Rudd indicated she would back the continued expansion of household solar panels, which are subsidised by consumers through levies on energy bills.

The Coalition government introduced a generous subsidy scheme called the Feed in Tariffs to encourage households to install solar panels, triggering a boom that far exceeded ministers’ expectations and in total about 640,000 homes now have panels installed. While the payments are less generous than they once were, a household can still expect to make thousands of pounds in profit by installing panels meaning they recoup their money within 7 to 8 years and thereafter make profit, according to the Solar Trade Association.

An interesting statement of intent from this new Government – early on I think!

$10 a minute

Would you believe it – $10m every minute is the amount that fossil fuel companies are benefitting from global subsidies EVERY minute of every day – equating to $5.3tn (£3.4tn) a year, according to a startling new estimate by the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF calls the revelation “shocking” and says the figure is an “extremely robust” estimate of the true cost of fossil fuels. The $5.3tn subsidy estimated for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments.

The vast subsidy derives largely from polluters not paying the costs imposed on governments by the burning of coal, oil and gas. These include the harm caused to local populations by air pollution as well as to people across the globe affected by the floods, droughts and storms being driven by climate change.

Coal is the dirtiest fuel in terms of both local air pollution and climate-warming carbon emissions and is therefore the greatest beneficiary of the subsidies, with just over half the total. Oil, heavily used in transport, gets about a third of the subsidy and gas the rest.

Lord Nicholas Stern, an eminent climate economist at the London School of Economics, said: “This very important analysis shatters the myth that fossil fuels are cheap by showing just how huge their real costs are. There is no justification for these enormous subsidies for fossil fuels, which distort markets and damages economies, particularly in poorer countries.”

The IMF, one of the world’s most respected financial institutions, said that ending the subsidies to fossil fuels would cut global carbon emissions by 20%. That would be a giant step towards taming global warming, an issue on which the world has made little progress to date.

Ending the subsidies would also slash the number of premature deaths from outdoor air pollution by 50% – about 1.6m lives a year.

Furthermore, the IMF said the resources freed by ending fossil fuel subsidies could be an economic “game changer” for many countries, by driving economic growth and poverty reduction through greater investment in infrastructure, health and education and also by cutting taxes that restrict growth.

Another consequence would be that the need for subsidies for renewable energy – a relatively tiny $120bn a year – would also disappear, if fossil fuel prices reflected the full cost of their impacts.

Wow – that puts it into perspective doesn’t it? Stop fossil fuel subsidies and cut global emissions by 20% AND no need for renewable subsidies! That would be a level playing field.