I’ve been trying to understand exactly what Calderdale’s Energy Future is, and felt like I was banging my head against a wall. Luckily, Calderdale Council’s Environmental Officer, Emma Appleton, has now told me in an email that Calderdale’s Energy Future strategy is only a “statement of intent”, not a “set of actions.” She says, “Required feasibility work has not been delivered,” which I think may mean that no one’s worked out whether or not it’s possible to carry out the various measures for reducing carbon emissions that Calderdale’s Energy Future envisages.
Anyone can ask questions at Calderdale Council Cabinet meetings
If you have questions about Calderdale’s Energy Future, you can ask them at meetings of Calderdale Council Cabinet. You need to turn up 10 minutes early and fill in a form with your question/s, before asking them orally at the start of the Cabinet meeting. You can also ask your Councillor.
In the light of Emma’s useful information and in plain English, here’s what I think the Calderdale’s Energy Future boils down to.
Relying on the market to reduce carbon emissions and climate change
Over the next ten years, Calderdale’s Energy Future aspires to stimulate around £320 million worth of investment in Calderdale, in measures like insulation, solar pv and improved transport efficiency, plus an apparently unspecified amount in community projects and the development of large scale commercial wind farms and biomass energy.
The Council itself has no money to spend on any of these measures.
The Council will work with banks and businesses – presumably to encourage banks to lend money to businesses to invest in measures to reduce carbon emissions?
The aim is that all this will make it possible for the area to reduce its carbon emissions by 40% by 2020 (based on 2005 levels), leading to an 80% reduction by 2050.
Not just reducing carbon emissions, but solving lots of other problems too
- help to create and support local low carbon businesses, jobs and income
- help improve people’s health and wellbeing
- look after the landscape
- involve everyone
Calderdale Council commissioned a company called Carbon Descent to identify theoretically possible ways of meeting the targets for reducing Calderdale’s carbon emissions. Carbon Descent number crunched various theoretically possible measures and concluded that it is possible to achieve 94% of the 2020 carbon emissions reduction target, if the various theoretically possible carbon measures are all successfully carried out on schedule.
Cost/benefit analyses of these measures show that it’s theoretically possible for their benefits to exceed their costs within a few years.
The Council aims to reduce its own carbon emissions by 40% by 2020, from the 2005 level.
It’s not clear which of the theoretically possible carbon emissions reduction measures identified by Carbon Descent will be carried out because, as Emma Appleton’s email explains, ” the required feasibility work has not been delivered.”
The fact that no one yet knows which carbon measures are feasible must mean it’s not clear if it will in fact be possible to reduce carbon emissions by the targetted amount. Particularly since some measures promise very big carbon emissions reductions, but no one knows at this stage if it’ll be possible to carry them out. Like switching to large scale biomass energy. Carbon Descent estimates this would give nearly one fifth of the targetted reductions, but Emma has clarified that there is no ”agreed pathway for Biomass” in the Strategy.
Key Council “partners”
The Council will convene a working group of businesses and third sector organisations. Once the working group knows which measures are feasible, it will create an action plan and monitor its implementation. It should give priority to measures which reduce carbon emissions the most.
It’s not clear how the Council will select members of the Working Group, although members will represent organisations that are “key partners” with the Council in carrying out Calderdale’s Energy Future. How the Council will make sure the Working Group is democratically accountable and open to public scrutiny is also unclear.
Since Calderdale Council adopted Calderdale’s Energy Future as just a vision of possible ways of reducing Calderdale’s carbon emissions – not a set of actions – it will be interesting to see if Calderdale Council will consult the public in the event that it ends up committing to any potentially contentious carbon reduction measures, such as large scale commercial wind farms and biomass energy.
I updated this page with a couple of small additional pieces of information on 25th Feb. Comments posted before then refer to the earlier version.