How good are the UK government's green credentials?

Wind turbines help to combat climate change (photo: Adobe)
Wind turbines help to combat climate change (photo: Adobe)

Latest article from Angela Terry

Green Green campaigner and consumer expert, Angela Terry, separates climate change facts from fiction and here she explains how you can take simple, practical steps to help save the planet. Follow @ouronehome & visit https://onehome.org.uk/ for more advice.

Green campaigner and consumer expert Angela Terry examines how serious the government is on the climate crisis.

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    Q: Is the UK government a world leader when it comes to climate?

    A: I understand why you think so.

    Our government has said some fantastic things, especially when we hosted COP26 in Glasgow. Its commitment to net zero was a landmark moment in global climate policy.

    Unfortunately, these words and commitments have not translated into action in many areas.

    Government’s own experts

    Recently, the government’s own climate watchdog Committee on Climate Change issued a damning progress report on its climate policy. It found that "major failures in delivery programmes" mean the UK is not on track to reach its climate goals.

    This slow progress is costing us in terms of our energy bills. Average household bills would already be about £125 lower if previous green plans had been followed.

    Wind turbines help to combat climate change (photo: Adobe)

    The CCC’s Chair Lord Debden pointed out that moving rapidly away from oil and gas is not just essential in terms of lowering carbon emissions, but would also boost the UK’s energy security and reduce people’s bills.

    What are worst problems?

    The greatest failure is insulation. Despite soaring fossil fuel prices and rising carbon emissions, the government still has no plans to help people insulate their homes. Brits have the draughtiest homes in western Europe. Whenever most of us switch on the heating, heat escapes – which means paying for extra gas. Energy efficiency helps cut bills.

    The government also needs to support the transition to clean energy. It has blocked onshore wind farms, even though they’re the cheapest form of power and extremely popular. It also plans to support a new coal mine. Coal is the most polluting form of energy, so in 2022 this is unbelievable. The focus for new jobs and lower bills has to be on renewable energy.

    The other tough area is transport, the UK’s biggest source of carbon dioxide. Funding for bus services keeps being cut, so people are forced to use cars, which are expensive to run and contribute to air pollution.

    Finally, we need a public information campaign, so everyone is confident on how to take action on climate change and save money while doing so. That’s why I set up One Home!

    What can you do?

    Raising awareness by talking to friends and families is helpful. Writing to your local councillors or MP and expressing your worries about the lack of climate action is another great step.

    You could highlight the dangers we face by referencing the unprecedented heatwaves in the UK and across Europe – as well as in India, the US, China, Japan and even the Arctic.

    Celebrity spot

    National treasure Stephen Fry has come out in support of Extinction Rebellion and called for urgent action on fossil fuels in a viral video.

    Stephen Fry has come out in support of Extinction Rebellion (photo: Getty Images)

    He explains that the argument the media often uses against climate-activists – they’re hypocrites because they travel or wear clothes made from fossil fuels – makes no sense.

    He says if they didn’t live in the modern world – wearing clothes and having TVs – and somehow found a way to don hessian sacking and live in a ditch, then everyone would just brand them "weirdos".

    Green swap

    Swap chicken for tofu and immediately save a kilo or two of carbon emissions.

    Urge to swap chicken for tofu instead (photo: Adobe)

    It’s also healthier. A lot of soya is used in chicken farming, as it’s fed to the chickens, so eating tofu directly is more efficient.

    Try to source sustainable soya when you can.

    Here we give the lowdown on artificial grass

    And yet, the truth is that plastic grass is an environmental no-no.

    Indeed, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled it can’t be described as eco-friendly.

    Here’s why ...

    Soil health

    In our quest for neatness in the garden, we sometimes forget it’s full of living things.

    In fact, soil is one of the most complex ecosystems on Earth.

    Just a handful contains 50 billion living creatures.

    These single-cell lifeforms aren’t visible to the naked eye but are essential to soil health.

    How dependent are we on them?

    We’re all dependent on them for our food.

    When you cover soil with what’s essentially a big plastic rug, you harm this life and render your soil infertile.

    You also stop its ability to suck up and store carbon.

    You might not think this is a big deal when it comes to just your garden but the UK has over 23 million gardens, accounting for around 4,440km2 of land – a fifth of the size of Wales!

    If they were all covered in plastic, it would create a real problem in terms of our carbon emissions – and also hasten the extinction of much of our wildlife.

    Wildlife

    As well as microorganisms, soil is home to insects and worms.

    These creepy crawlies might not look cute but we depend on them.

    Insects are some of the most important pollinators of crops, while worms cycle nutrients through the soil, keeping it healthy.

    With insect numbers plummeting, we should be doing everything we can to help them, not destroying yet more of their habitats.

    We also need to help out bigger garden wildlife. Insects and worms are the main food for birds, small mammals, amphibians, fish and reptiles.

    Flooding

    As the world warms, rainfall patterns are changing, becoming heavier and more intense.

    Healthy soil can soak up excess water, while water simply runs off artificial grass, exacerbating flooding.

    Plastic not so fantastic

    Artificial lawns are made of plastic – and the last thing we need is more of that!

    Most plastics shed microplastics and plastic grass isn’t any different.

    These infinitesimal fibres pollute the surrounding environment.

    What’s more, as fake lawns fall apart, they look awful and so end up in landfill, polluting the soil and watercourse for decades to come.

    Here we give the lowdown on artificial grass

    Sales of fake grass lawns soared during lockdown as people lucky enough to have gardens spent so much time in them and sought easy ways to maintain them.

    Fake grass a no no (photo: Adobe)

    And yet, the truth is that plastic grass is an environmental no-no.

    Indeed, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled it can’t be described as eco-friendly.

    Here’s why ...

    Soil health

    In our quest for neatness in the garden, we sometimes forget it’s full of living things.

    In fact, soil is one of the most complex ecosystems on Earth.

    Just a handful contains 50 billion living creatures.

    These single-cell lifeforms aren’t visible to the naked eye but are essential to soil health.

    How dependent are we on them?

    We’re all dependent on them for our food.

    When you cover soil with what’s essentially a big plastic rug, you harm this life and render your soil infertile.

    You also stop its ability to suck up and store carbon.

    You might not think this is a big deal when it comes to just your garden but the UK has over 23 million gardens, accounting for around 4,440km2 of land – a fifth of the size of Wales!

    If they were all covered in plastic, it would create a real problem in terms of our carbon emissions – and also hasten the extinction of much of our wildlife.

    Wildlife

    As well as microorganisms, soil is home to insects and worms.

    These creepy crawlies might not look cute but we depend on them.

    Insects are some of the most important pollinators of crops, while worms cycle nutrients through the soil, keeping it healthy.

    With insect numbers plummeting, we should be doing everything we can to help them, not destroying yet more of their habitats.

    We also need to help out bigger garden wildlife. Insects and worms are the main food for birds, small mammals, amphibians, fish and reptiles.

    Flooding

    As the world warms, rainfall patterns are changing, becoming heavier and more intense.

    Healthy soil can soak up excess water, while water simply runs off artificial grass, exacerbating flooding.

    Plastic not so fantastic

    Artificial lawns are made of plastic – and the last thing we need is more of that!

    Most plastics shed microplastics and plastic grass isn’t any different.

    These infinitesimal fibres pollute the surrounding environment.

    What’s more, as fake lawns fall apart, they look awful and so end up in landfill, polluting the soil and watercourse for decades to come.

    Fact or fiction

    Better to wash dishes by hand than use a dishwasher.

    False!

    Testing by the experts at Which? found that even the least-efficient dishwater still only uses half the water of washing by hand. Just make sure it’s full.

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