You step out of the solar-heated shower, only fill the kettle for one cup of coffee, and wince at the latest electric bill while it boils. In the background, the radio news reports that renewable energy has passed one-third of UK electricity supply. Before going out you turn off the master switch for all your appliances. Then you climb into your electric car for the drive to work. The roads are noticeably quieter, and there have been studies showing asthma admissions are falling as petrol and diesel cars are replaced.
This is a vision of life just over a decade away, painted yesterday in a report by the government’s climate change committee. On the surface, life would go on almost as it does now, but underlying the daily routine things could look rather different.
Electricity would increasingly come from renewable sources – at first mostly wind, then later tidal power, biomass burning and geothermal energy. Homes and offices would be insulated to minimise energy loss, and efficient appliances would become the norm. Clean electricity would take over home heating and power a growing number of electric vehicles.
Subtle changes to behaviour would be second nature: turning off appliances, driving a bit slower, wearing a jumper at home, using the cold washing machine cycle, choosing unusual meat cuts over carbon-intensive meats such as beef.
David Kennedy, the climate change committee’s chief executive, said: “Let’s not underestimate the energy efficiency that gives you more [savings] than lifestyle change, but there are things that can really make a difference, such as simply switching lights off when you leave the room and turning the thermostat down.”
There would likely be visible and audible changes: quieter streets, more wind turbines on the horizon, but also, as farmers use less fertiliser, more trout and salmon in rivers, while countryside bird populations should flourish.
Living conditions would not be reduced, said Kennedy. “It’s not a question of undermining standards of living; it’s not saying don’t drive your car or go on holiday. It’s about small modifications, and that’s useful from a climate change perspective and a personal perspective.”
Source: The Guardian