As three new Acts of Parliament go on the statute book, householders and drivers are being challenged to save energy and cut their carbon emissions under the Government's ACT ON CO2 People Power challenge, launched at the end of November.
The challenge will follow volunteers from Newcastle, Portsmouth and Birmingham as they attempt to reduce the energy they use in their daily lives, with a dedicated website tracking their progress, sharing their tips and comparing success between the three cities.
The launch of the campaign marks the passing of three major pieces of legislation – the Climate Change, Energy and Planning Bills. The three Acts are hoped to facilitate the UK's transition to a low-carbon economy, deliver a long-term, secure energy supply, and enshrine in law ambitious targets to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 80%.
Energy and climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, said: "The UK is the first country in the world to introduce a legally-binding framework to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Setting the 80% target was the easy part: now the work really begins. Government, communities, businesses and individuals need to work together to bring about change.
"The Energy and Planning Acts will be instrumental in reducing carbon emissions, removing barriers to enable industry to invest in important new infrastructure, and giving individuals and communities the incentive to use energy more efficiently and generate their own heat and energy.
"With over 40% of emissions coming from the choices we make as individuals, the new People Power challenge aims to show the small steps we can each take so together we can make a big difference. I hope the volunteers, their action and their enthusiasm, will inspire others across the country to ACT ON CO2 and I wish them the very best with the challenge."
Secretary of state for the environment, Hilary Benn, said: "The People Power challenge will show people how they can save energy in their homes and on the road – so saving money and helping the fight against climate change. We all have a responsibility for the future of the environment, and in these tough economic times we can all benefit by thinking carefully about using energy."
Under the Climate Change Act 2008, the UK will introduce five-yearly ‘carbon budgets' outlining how emissions targets will be met, bring in plans on corporate reporting for businesses, and eliminate free single use carrier bags. The Energy Act 2008 underpins the development of new civil nuclear power, the expansion of renewables, and paves the way for new technologies such as carbon capture and storage and smart meters. The Planning Act 2008 addresses energy efficiency in homes and simplifies planning permission for all large energy infrastructure projects.
The People Power challenge is part of the ACT ON CO2 campaign, a cross-Government initiative which helps householders and consumers reduce their energy use. People Power ‘ambassadors' will take part in a number of activities, which might include a home energy audit by the Energy Saving Trust, a lesson in saving fuel through ‘smarter driving', and keeping a weekly log of their energy use.
Transport minister Andrew Adonis said: "Smarter driving techniques are a key part of the ACT ON CO2 campaign, and can save drivers fuel and money as they go about their daily lives. At a time when everyone is thinking more about both the economy and the environment, this offers a real opportunity to make a difference. "The People Power drive gives a renewed focus on the individual. It links up energy consumption in the home with emissions on the road and offers solutions for maintaining a low carbon lifestyle. I look forward to seeing the achievements of today's volunteers over the coming months."
To follow the progress of the People Power participants, log on to www.direct.gov.uk/ActOnCO2.