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UK: Energy-Wise Schools Get Carbon Trading Gains

Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (UK)

Pioneering carbon trading scheme to promote school energy efficiency

Carbon emissions from state schools are to be included in a pioneering carbon trading scheme for local authorities from April 2010, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced today.

Energy use in schools will count towards the total emissions of local authorities under the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), the mandatory trading scheme that will encourage local authorities to reduce emissions.

Local authorities will be encouraged within the scheme to provide help and advice to schools on energy efficiency - cutting both their energy bills and their carbon footprints.

Hilary Benn made the announcement as he published new research which shows that 90 per cent of children think their school can take action to help tackle climate change.

Mr Benn said:

"Young people stand to gain most tomorrow from the action we take on climate change today. That's why schools should be included in the shift to a low carbon economy.

"Bringing schools into the carbon footprint of local authorities taking part in this scheme will encourage greater energy efficiency, with children seeing the results in their own schools. "

All individual schools will have to do is to supply information on their annual energy use to the local authority. These emissions will then be included in local authority total under the CRC.

In all, around 5000 large commercial and public sector organisations will be part of the CRC - including supermarkets, hotel chains, universities, water companies and government departments. The scheme will be revenue neutral, with those who perform best being rewarded financially for their efforts.

Other findings from the Climate Change Youth Tracker Survey published today include:

* six in ten are worried about climate change;

* 78 per cent think climate change is due to human behaviour;

* six in ten thought climate change would effect weather in their region;

* a third felt that the UK was already affected by climate change;

* 42 per cent believe they are taking action and of those respondents, 74 per cent of those recycle/make less waste, 44 per cent walk or cycle and 42 per cent use less energy; and

* 76 per cent felt that their home could use less energy.

Commenting on the survey Hilary Benn added:

"This survey is really encouraging. The enthusiasm and passion of young people for protecting the planet they will inherit gives us all hope for the future - and we have a duty both to live up to their expectations and to help make the changes we need."

The Government announced last December its long-term ambition for every new school building to be zero-carbon from 2016. The advisory Zero Carbon Task Force today (July 16) launched a call to evidence as part its work, which will report to Children's Secretary Ed Balls by the end of the year on overcoming the technological and cost barriers.

Ministers have already taken significant steps to cut energy use and encourage low carbon generation in schools to be the norm. Government has:

* announced £110 million specifically to install cutting-edge carbon reduction and renewable energy technology in more than 200 secondary schools undergoing major refurbishment over the next three years - most as part of the Building Schools for the Future programme (BSF). This was on top of the £21.9 billion capital investment in schools between 2008 and 2011, including £9.3 billion earmarked for BSF;

* set out a long-term ambition for all new school buildings to be zero-carbon by 2016. The Government has set up an advisory taskforce, led by the highly-respected architect Robin Nicholson, to report to ministers by the end of the year on overcoming the cost and technological barriers;

* introduced stricter design regulations meaning that energy use in new school buildings has already been slashed by 60 per cent on 2002 levels, thanks to stricter statutory regulations - which the Government is supporting with high-quality design guidance and advice;

* required all new school building projects to reach the "very good" standard on the internationally recognised independent BREEAM design assessment - which assess energy and water conservation, sustainable transport, low impact construction material use and biodiversity on school sites;

* developing a wider Carbon Management Strategy for the school system. This work is at an early stage and the Government is working with the Sustainable Development Commission and others partners to test feasibility and develop a practical strategy to reduce carbon emissions across the sector; and

* published the DCSF Sustainable Development Action Plan - "Brighter Futures - Greener Lives" last month, with supporting delivery plans outlining energy and carbon reduction management.

NOTES

1. LVQ, a specialist youth research agency interviewed a random sample of 749 youngsters in England, aged 11-17. Fieldwork was carried out from May 24-30, 2006. Full details of the children's survey can be found at: http://defrawebd/environment/climatechange/uk/individual/attitudes/index.htm

2. The CRC is a mandatory emissions trading scheme being introduced by the Government to cover large businesses and public sector organisations whose 2008 half-hourly metered electricity use is above 6,000 MWh. Organisations with an electricity bill of roughly £500,000 per year will generally be included in the scheme. The CRC will cover electricity use and all energy use emissions outside the EU ETS and Climate Change Agreements. The introduction of the scheme was announced by Government in the Energy White Paper 2007.

3. The changes announced today mean that unitary, county, metropolitan and London borough councils which meet the threshold for energy consumption would be legally required to include emissions from all state-funded schools in their areas.

4. The Government today also published proposals to amend the CRC to operate on the financial year rather than the calendar year, meaning the scheme will now start in April 2010. The proposal, along with other potential improvements to the way the CRC will operate, would improve cash-flow for participants and make it simpler and easier for them to take part. These proposals will be included in a consultation on the regulations for the scheme, which will be published in the autumn.

5. This announcement affects Local Authorities and state-funded schools in Great Britain. In Northern Ireland schools are not overseen by local authorities. The Northern Ireland Executive is considering whether and how best to include schools in the scheme.

6. Full details of the Carbon Reduction Commitment can be found at http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climatechange/uk/business/crc/index.htm

7. For more details of the Zero Carbon Schools visit the Department for Children, Schools and Families at http://www.dcsf.gov.uk.

Client ref News Release ref : 227/08
COI ref 163458P

ENDS

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