I wish the UK government in 2013 would address the complementary needs for:
(a) jobs for people to do.
(b) deep energy-saving retrofits of homes.
It seems to me to be financially prudent and responsible for government to borrow money now to save a lot more money over the coming decades and create jobs at the same time. This could be done by the deep-retrofit of buildings now (as is being done in other parts of Europe) and this would create meaningful jobs in the process and a future for disenfranchised youths.
Deep retrofit is key. Green Deal tinkering will have the benefit of making some people more comfortable with warmer homes in winter, but in reality because most people will opt for higher temperatures in their slightly more easily warmed homes, will save very little in energy, money or carbon emissions. The need for deep retrofits to make meaningful cuts has been shown by studying records of many thousands of shallow retrofits by an Energy Institute masters student research project at UCL. (no link, sorry, I learnt this at an Energy Inst. seminar about a year ago), however research published in this recent report from the Institute for Sustainability illustrates the same point.
The problem is how to do this retrofit skills training when there’s no money from government and when the government clearly doesn't care in the slightest about saving energy but instead is hell-bent on increasing fossil fuel supply and consumption by pushing gas fracking upon a largely uninterested and under-informed population; blindly ignoring all the horrendous climate implications of this, and the serious risk of permanently polluting the clean fresh water supplies that almost all land-based life depends upon.
With DECC employing almost two dozen oil and gas industry staff (see link) is it really surprising that this government has anti wind-farm activists at its heart, trying to replace the last government's plans for deep energy-saving measures and clean energy supply with new plans that support the filthy products of a careless fossil fuel industry?
Perhaps however, if, without the need for funding, we can volunteer our time to explain this to the youths, to demonstrate on Jan 16th how warm the Mayville is while using less energy than a tiny flat, they might feel some fervour, start a movement and start demanding change. Newington Green can become the heart of a new 21st century dissenting movement!
That would be a very positive outcome of the terrible knife and baseball bat attack by three youths today on Ashok Patel, a gentle, warm and elderly store owner on Newington Green.
PS: more about the ecomomic choices here
PPS: This film from the USA should be a warning to us about letting the oil and gas profiteers fool around with our fresh water supplies.