Last week The Independent newspaper in the UK asked its readers what to do about climate change. The response has been overwhelming. “Today we publish a summary of the most popular ideas which, if put into practice, would be potent weapons in the fight against global warming” argues The Independent.
10 Top Proposals for change
Fit new buildings with solar panels or wind turbines
* PRO: Would reduce reliance on fossil fuels and provide renewable source of energy. Solar panels are benign and getting better at converting sunlight into electrical power.
* Against: Wind turbines would pose planning problems as well raising concerns over health and safety. Larger turbines already opposed on grounds of unsightliness and interference to birds. Solar and wind power may not be substitute for fossil fuels.
Label products according to their effect on climate:
* Pro: Would raise awareness among consumers about environmental impact of products. Could lead to companies competing in terms of being environmentally friendly.
* Against: Difficult to judge product’s true impact on environment.
Force passengers to pay environmental cost of flying:
* Pro: Would have an impact on one of biggest sources of carbon dioxide emissions.
* Against: True environmental cost of flying difficult to assess and would be difficult to reach a consensus.
Public transport should be made cheaper:
* Pro: Minimises pollution in urban areas.
* Against: Trains are infrequent in certain areas.
Make energy- efficient light bulbs compulsory:
* Pro: Compact florescent light bulbs use up to 67 per cent less energy than traditional bulbs, and last 10 times longer. Incandescent bulbs waste 90 per cent of their energy as heat.
* Against: Currently CFLs cost between £5 and £8 each, compared with less than £1 for an ordinary incandescent bulb
Encourage people to work from home:
* Pro: Companies could reduce road congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, and help revive rural communities.
* Against: Companies would have to stump up to install computers and home offices for workers. Health and safety standards could be hard to enforce, and employees used to might find home-working an isolating experience.
Use the law to encourage recycling:
* Pro: Britain produces some 28.2 tonnes of household waste every year. Of this 87 per cent is incinerated or dumped in landfills, yet most household waste is suitable for either composting or recycling.
* Against: Collecting, sorting and recycling waste not cheap – councils with high recycling rates spend up to three times as much on waste collection as other local authorities.
Ban 4×4 cars from cities
* Pro: Would reduce harmful emissions and would make roads safer for other motorists and pedestrians.
* Against: Motorists are still buying them – 187,000 4x4s were sold in Britain last year.
Reduce packaging on products
* Pros: Would drastically reduce the amount of waste we produce.
* Against: Recyclable wrapping can be more expensive, with costs passed on to buyers.
Ban patio heaters
* Pro: There are 750,000 in Britain producing 380,000 tons of greenhouse gases every year.
* Against: Ban would be difficult to police.