Carbon footprint, carbon reduction, carborexia, carbon economy… it can sometimes feel as though we’re being bombarded from all sides about carbon – and how to reduce our own, or our nation’s carbon emissions.
But what does this really mean? The phrases ‘low carbon’, ‘carbon footprint’ and ‘carbon economy’ all apply to a common aim: to reduce mankind’s output of ‘greenhouse’ gases. Although in the Earth’s atmosphere these include water vapour, methane, ozone and nitrous oxide, the prevalence of carbon dioxide; and mankind’s impact on its increase in the atmosphere; has meant that ‘carbon’ reduction has become the focus of the campaign to lower our emissions.
"The West Midlands has an aim to achieve a 30% reduction in its emissions by 2020 to be in line with the national target set in the Climate Change Act."
A regional perspective: West Midlands
The government has come under growing pressure from environmental groups to tackle climate change caused by high levels of CO2. Under the Kyoto protocol of 1997, the UK government committed to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, and has since become the first country to set significant carbon reduction targets into law with the Climate Change Act of November 2008, aiming for a 26-32% reduction by 2020 and a total cut of 80% by 2050. To bring about such a dramatic reduction in emissions will need a huge shift in the way British society operates combined with innovation and enterprise. Government, industry, business, communities and individuals all need to be encouraged and supported to bring about greenhouse gas reduction measures. So what is the government doing to help?
As part of The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan of July 2009, the government is investing in energy efficient, renewable and clean energy technologies to tackle CO2 emissions from industry, homes, the workplace and agriculture. Grants and financial help have been made available to individuals and businesses looking to make savings. There are now several well-established and recognisable agencies seeking to raise awareness of climate change, and help us tackle it. However, it can be difficult to know which agency to approach for help and guidance. Here’s our guide to the key players in the field.
Alongside energy saving advice, one of the key initiatives of the Energy Saving Trust is to combat the problems businesses have with running vehicles as part of their operations. They provide a ‘fleet advice service’ that advises businesses on how to make their vehicles cheaper to run whilst also reducing their carbon footprint. Advice is usually free and can help businesses make significant savings.
This government supported campaign seeks to raise awareness of climate change through TV, press, radio and online presence and has a website that is full of information, hints and tips for individuals and businesses on reducing carbon emissions and saving energy. There is specific information for businesses about travel planning and cycling initiatives.
This government supported, not-for-profit company provides specialist support to businesses to cut carbon emissions, save energy, and commercialise low carbon technologies. The Trust encourages investment in low-carbon technology as a means to deliver cost savings to business and create new employment and innovation opportunities; either through specialist goods and services such as wind turbines and alternative fuel generators; or through changes in existing processes of manufacture and delivery. It offers “Entrepreneurs Fast Track” support for innovators who need help to take a new product idea from the laboratory, to a viable market product.