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Learning about Carbon Reduction at Expo ’09

October 8, 2009

Radcliffe-on-Trent from the train

Just returned from morning at this year’s East Midlands Sustainability Expo, at Walkers Stadium Leicester. Spent my time brushing up on the Carbon Reduction Commitment programme that local authorities, fire and police services, universities, government departments and health bodies are beginning in 2011.

Essentially, these organisations are given allowances to emit carbon which they can then buy or sell through a ‘cap and trade’ scheme. The theory being that the total amount of emissions is capped while using a market mechanism to move the emissions around efficiently.

The Local Government Information Unit team were at the helm for the session, having run a pilot scheme over the last couple of years. Northants County Council participated and Darren Perry gave a very positive presentation on their experiences, while highlighting some of the challenges. The availability of timely data on energy use is a key concern as well as the management of local authorities’ relationships with schools.

I took a couple of main points away from the event. CRC is complex, although this is understood by government and the Environment Agency (the scheme’s regulator). This will see a softly-softly approach being taken to regulation while participants get to grips with its intricacies. Secondly, the concept of trading is akin to ‘playing a game’ and is (to my knowledge) not like anything else undertaken in local government. So as well as coming to terms with the technical aspects of CRC, the scheme requires local authorities to learn a new set of skills around trading and how to maximise both the environmental and economic benefits from their allowances.

On a wider note, the Expo felt like a big success this year. Visiting the exhibitors over lunch, the main hall was really bustling both with delegates and members of the public. Stalls ranged from suppliers of solar panels to local food suppliers (Charnwood Chillis in particular were causing a stir).

East Midlands Regional Assembly organised a lot of media activity round the event this year; we’ll be linking to some interesting video interviews with participants shortly…

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