The UK government today launched a search for 20 communities that want to “be in the forefront of moving to a low-carbon economy.” The...

compact-fluorescentThe UK government today launched a search for 20 communities that want to “be in the forefront of moving to a low-carbon economy.”

The winning candidates will receive a share of the government’s £10 million Low-Carbon Communities Challenge to build on existing low-carbon schemes, with residents in each community getting a chance to choose the measures they want to pursue.

Around a quarter of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from heating, lighting and powering electrical appliances in homes. Government officials say this needs to be almost zero by 2050 if Britain is to cut its emissions by 80 per cent — a target deemed necessary to offset the worst effects of climate change.

Low-carbon strategies that could earn support from the Communities Challenge fund could include local biomass plants, home retrofit programmes and electric car charge points.

In return for technical and financial assistance, people living and working in the area will work alongside government and contribute to finding low-carbon solutions from which the whole country will benefit. Successful outcomes from the project will pave the way for a national roll-out of proven measures.

A specialist support squad made up of partners with funding and expertise from inside and outside government — including The Energy Saving Trust, The Carbon Trust, WRAP and the third sector — will work together with each community to offer help on anything from negotiating in planning debates to identifying personalised low-carbon answers.

“Were searching for communities across the country to kick start the low-carbon revolution,” said Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband. “The Challenge is an opportunity for communities to lead the way so that everyone can play their part in tacking climate change and save money on fuel bills.”

He added, “The UK has the most ambitious emissions reduction commitments in the world and projects like this will develop the policies we need to be successful. With just over two months to go until the crucial climate talks at Copenhagen, the UK is well placed to show it is taking action in all areas to combat climate change.”

In addition to ongoing evaluation, UK research institutions are being invited to participate in the challenge to ensure independent analysis of the various communities’ progress. Using its new £6 million investment on energy and communities, The Research Council will be inviting academic proposals to come forward which would build on and contribute to the Governments investment.

The challenge was announced this summer as part of the government’s Low-Carbon Transition Plan.

For towns to be eligible, they must demonstrate they are already making changes and are committed to developing both infrastructure and behaviour change that results in carbon reductions, such as wind farms, electric car infrastructure or home energy refurbishments.

In testing the success of different plans, the flagship Low-Carbon Communities will provide invaluable research and information on how communities can successfully work together to cut emissions and fight climate change, according to officials.


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