Lord Smith – Every public building should have solar panels

In a speech on the challenges of tackling climate change during the recession, Lord Smith made a range of radical suggestions.

He said every public building in the country should be fitted with solar panels and wind turbines must be put up wherever possible.

Children should be taught about climate change alongside literacy and numeracy and all public sector organisations should be forced to consider the environment in annual budgets.

In a lecture to the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), Lord Smith advocated following in the footsteps of US President Barack Obama with a range of measures that boost the economy by creating jobs while tackling climate change.

He said: “All public buildings should be fitted with solar or photovaltic panels. New buildings should be fitted with ground source heat pumps. Public land should be used, where possible, for wind power generation. Every new public building should meet the highest possible standards for energy and water efficiency, becoming a showcase of good practice for other local businesses and organisations to follow.”

The Government is due to announce a heat and energy package on Thursday that will include plans to insulate millions of homes and introduce grants for renewable heat generators like solar panels or wood chip boilers.

Lord Smith said policy-makers must make it easier for people to go green. For example a one-stop-shop run by local authorities to help households fit renewables and interest free loans to pay for micro-generators like wind turbines.

He also said transport in local government could be transformed by switching to hybrid or electric cars or video conferencing where possible. Every public sector organisation would be required to publish an “environmental responsibility report” alongside its annual budget.

In education children should be taught about the impacts of climate change.

He said: “I’m sure there is scope to do more to place the science and the impact of climate change as much at the heart of the school week as the other fundamentals of language, literacy, numeracy and the broader fields of physics, chemistry and biology.”

Lord Smith is in a key position to influence Government.

He made clear that controversial plans to build a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in Kent should not be allowed unless carbon capture and storage (CCS), that takes the CO2 and stores it underground, is fitted by the 2020s.

He said all fossil fuel power plants should be fitted with the technology by the mid 2020s and old power stations should be retrofitted with CCS by 2030.

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