Every week is climate week here at 10:10 HQ, but this week is Climate Week, which is different.
For the uninitiated, Climate Week is a year-round campaign that culminates in a week-long extravaganza of practical carbon-cutting goodness, with good stuff springing up all over the country.
The Carbon Trust just launched the latest in their series of Expert in Energy guides for organisations, focusing on boilers and heat distribution.
We're giving them out for free thanks to some sponsorship from M&S, and it's great to see them flying out of the door again. You can download an electronic version from the website, or send us a stamped addressed envelope and we'll pop a hard copy in the post.
For full details and instructions, visit roughguide.to/communityenergy
People often ask how 10:10 is getting on with its own carbon-cutting effort, but our short history (you've got to have a year of data to measure against!) made it difficult to give a proper answer.
But after two years at our current home in Camden Town, we've finally got own very own 10:10 result! In 2011 our emissions were down 14% on the year before, which means we're proudly joining the hundreds of successful 10:10ers on our giant stories map.
After two years at our current home in Camden Town, our emissions are down 14%
Although we put some DIY insulation over our giant skylight and were more careful with lights and the printer, 2011's mild autumn and winter gave us an extra boost we can't take any credit for!
All the next steps involve working with the landlord to bring this old building (which started life in Victorian times as medical equipment factory) up to scratch. Doing another 14% is going to take some serious diplomacy on Ben's part. But with new success stories coming in all the time, he definitely won't be short of inspiration.
It's been another amazing year for the 10:10 community, and we wanted to do something a bit special to celebrate everything we've achieved together.
So we've put together a bumper 2011 roundup page, featuring all the highlights of the last 12 months.
Check it out here (pdf)
You can always tell when a carbon reduction is really big, because you'd have to do something completely absurd in order to match it.
By this measure, the Welsh Government's 10:10 result, which they announced earlier today, looks pretty impressive. They cut their carbon by 11% in the past year, which adds up to 1,643 tonnes overall.
Earlier this week, the government announced plans for massive cuts to the Feed-in tariff, a popular incentive scheme that pays solar panel owners for each unit of power that they generate.
This isn't a completely done deal – the government is consulting on the plans until late December, but the way it's been announced has got people bracing for the worst.
The Feed-in tariff (often shortened to Fit) certainly isn't perfect, but it's been incredibly successful at getting panels on roofs. This doesn't just help people reduce their utility bills and carbon emissions – there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that seeing the panels in action (and reaping the rewards) can change the way people think about energy, and makes them more likely to make climate-friendly choices in other areas of their lives.
Pretty much everyone agrees that the rates need to come down as installation costs fall – that's how subsidies are supposed to work. Even the solar industry is pushing for a gradual reduction in line with falling installation costs.
But cutting so far and so fast will put thousands of solar workers out of a job and pull the rug out from under small community groups that have already poured time and effort into their projects, but don't stand a chance of meeting the new deadline.
We just heard from Brighton Energy Cooperative, which was due to start selling shares on Wednesday but has been forced to put the entire project on hold until further notice. A few hours later, Reading Council – our partners on the Solar Schools project – announced that they'd be drastically scaling back their own school solar programme. These are the first examples to emerge – they won't be the last.
Cutting so far and so fast will put thousands of solar workers out of a job and pull the rug out from under small community groups that don't stand a chance of meeting the new deadline.
If the proposals do end up being adopted, it's also likely to be the end of 'free' solar schemes, where companies offer solar rigs to households at low or no cost in exchange for the Fit payments. Killing off these schemes will effectively put the benefits of solar power out of reach for poorer families and social housing programmes, who could never afford to buy the panels outright at current prices.
This isn't just unfair; it defeats the whole purpose of the scheme.
The government argues that without drastic cuts, the scheme would run out of money completely in the next few months, forcing them to close it to new applicants until around 2015. They claim, therefore, that slashing rates was the least-bad option under the circumstances.
But this ignores the fact that these circumstances are entirely of their own making. Here's why...
In April 2010, the government introduced a scheme called the Feed-in tariff (sometimes shortened to Fit), which encourages people to install solar panels by offering panel owners a fixed payment for each unit of electricity they generate.
The scheme has been extremely successful, putting thousands of panels on Britain’s roofs and creating a thriving home-grown solar industry that now employs 25,000 people.
But after several months of rumours, leaks, false starts and general confusion, the government yesterday announced plans to slash these payments by up to 50%, with the cuts taking effect much sooner than most people expected.
Householders and small businesses currently receive 43p for each kilowatt hour their panels generate. Under the new proposals, this will be reduced to 21p for any solar rig installed after 12 December. Full details of the new tariffs can be found on the department for energy and climate change website.
The government is now 'consulting' on the new payment levels. Technically this means that the final numbers could differ from what was announced today, but the way the government has played the announcement so far suggests that it's quite unlikely to change its mind.
In a nutshell, the Green Deal is a government scheme that offers loans to cover the upfront cost of energy-saving home improvements. Repayments are linked to, and automatically deducted from, the money you save on fuel bills.
Clever stuff, and potentially great news for the thousands of 10:10ers who'd love to insulate but aren't in a position to shell out for it all at once. But as always, the devil's in the detail, and we've been working with Patrick on a campaign to make sure the Green Deal lives up to its promise.
This gets a bit technical in places, but there's enough at stake here it's well worth taking a bit of time to understand. Here goes: