Go green with incentives – not with penalties

It was music to my ears this morning to hear a Conservative spokesman saying that we should reward people who save energy or generate their own power, rather than hitting those who dare to burn some fuel to go about their daily business.

Labour and Liberal believe in more tax and more regulation. Conservatives should believe in more incentive, and the liberating power of technology.

At the same time as Greg Barker was planning his encouragement for generating more at home, I was talking to Phil Woolas, the Water Minister, about how we could collect and use more of our own water at home.

I have installed the water butt to collect water off my roof, only to make the obvious discovery that my roof produces far more water than the butt can take. It also means I have plenty of water for the garden when the garden is sodden!

Why not encourage more and cheaper systems to collect roof water and to use it for flushing loos and washing cars. We really do not need to be using high grade drinking water for such purposes.

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10 Comments

  1. Tim Bull
    Posted December 6, 2007 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    The fundamental problem lies at the door of the house-building industry. There are numerous, relatively cheap ‘green’ options that can be incorporated in new-build, under the headings of energy efficiency, heat retention and exchange and recycling (materials and consumables). However unless forced to improve environmental-friendliness, by raised standards in building regulations, they will always minimize capital cost at the expense of running costs.

  2. jsfl
    Posted December 6, 2007 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    I fully agree with your comments. It is encouraging that the party now seems to be going down this route.

    However, on one matter I think we need to have more realism. Today David Cameron said:

    I do not take a view of which energy sources should be used – I simply want to see them operate on a level playing field.

    I disagree, the government should provide clear guidance and direction (in terms of research funding etc., grants, subsidies) on which technologies they believe will provide the most benefit to society. For example, the linked article from wikipedia gives a clear indication of which technologies offer the most benefit. It suggests that geothermal heat exchange and other geothermal technologies could have a major part to play in reducing demand for heating fuels and reducing heating/cooling costs.

    Renewable Energy Article

    Yet, tt is rather odd that we never hear about geothermal exchange technologies but hear constantly about the far less reliable (being subject to the elements) solar and wind power options or the environment and habitat destroying bio-fuels. Much as these may need to play a part I cannot see how any government cannot choose the geothermal exchange options ahead of them.

    The geothermal option is cheaper, does not require anywhere near as much complex technology and theoretically provides an almost unending source of energy. Furthermore, it doesn't turn once beautiful parts of the country and surrounding seas into eyesores.

  3. Peter
    Posted December 6, 2007 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Jim Manzi has a very good article explaining the problems with a carbon tax here: http://theamericanscene.com/2007/12/05/coase-club

  4. DAVID VINTER
    Posted December 6, 2007 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    Firstly I have never seen a countryside house without a water butt.

    Given that no one can predict a future [20 year]
    energy price for –GAS OIL COAL NUCLEAR production, then how can you have a "level playing field" for energy production?
    Iwon't vote for Cameron unless he approves 10 new nuclear power stations.

  5. Bazman
    Posted December 7, 2007 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    Ten nuclear power stations? It is said nuclear power is the most expensive way of boiling a liter of water in the history of mankind.
    Lets see how keen private business is on nuclear when the are forced to take on decommissioning costs.
    The most effective way is conservation of resources. The problem being how much of this money goes on insulation and how much goes into the pockets of sweaty energy advisors and their companies.
    There is also the problem of convincing the building industry.

  6. Josh
    Posted December 9, 2007 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    "We really do not need to be using high grade drinking water for such purposes."

    Quite true. Frankly, I don't know why we don't have water metering. Surely it makes sense to pay for the water you use. Potable water will be a more expensive commodity than rain water on the roof and so the economics will speak for themselves… perhaps maybe… would be nice if they would.

    "Given that no one can predict a future [20 year]
    energy price for

  7. Bazman
    Posted December 10, 2007 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    Water meters. I have one. The great con! Two adults one child one (None power shower and no watering of the garden) Same price as rates. Government ( nuclear?) Decommissioning Fund. You obviously do not understand how expensive nuclear decommissioning this is going to be.
    Phone Your Mum to find out more…..

  8. Josh
    Posted December 13, 2007 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    "Government ( nuclear?) Decommissioning Fund. You obviously do not understand how expensive nuclear decommissioning this is going to be."

    It's rather comprehensible really.
    http://www.freedomforfission.org.uk/cyc/decom.htm

    "Phone Your Mum to find out more

  9. Cliff
    Posted December 13, 2007 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Water Meters:

    The industry currently subsidise the bills for metered supplies as there were fewer people on meters compared to the more traditional water billing. As the number of metered customers increase, so the subsidy will no longer be justified and thus the bills will rise. No industry deliberately promotes something that is not financially beneficial to that industry. Why do you think so many water companies were pushing for drought orders during the summer of 2006? If they achieved this order, then they could force all homes to accept water metering.
    Once we are all forced by the green agenda to go onto water meters, we shall see our bills rocket.
    The information above about the subsidising of metered supplies, came from the water regulator's office help line.

  10. Roger Thornhill
    Posted December 14, 2007 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Green taxes are a con, a ratchet. The Labour "carbon credit card" is one of the most draconian, authoritarian, Big Brother concepts that I have heard and we all know we are spoilt for choice from this administration! Off the back off this will hang the ID card. If anyone had doubts about the mindset of people wanting to "own" people as just tax revenue farms or subordinate, submissive clay, then that combination should be a wakeup call.

    Before looking at incentives, one should see where subsidies exist, directly or indirectly that skew the market.

    Water meters make sense – the issue is not with meters per se, but the tariffs. Water is a real mess, however, as we have geographic private monopolies – distribution might benefit from being split from production and storage of fresh water. This should resolve the tariff issues and demand meters, yet the issue of contamination and quality is then harder to contain and manage.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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