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Solutions & sustainability - June 25

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

A Street Legal Human Powered Car- HumanCar

The HumanCar operates with four people working in concert like an engine. The two front people 'body-steer' to turn, like a ski or board- ... all » this is so fun to ride you want to scream. We will be able to sell them very soon
(7 Dec 2005)

Michael Brownlee, Boulder Valley Relocalization
Global Public Media
Michael Brownlee of Boulder Valley Relocalization talks with GPM's Julian Darley. From his beginnings in community organization based around Y2K (helping people to deal with their concerns, just in case), to his current relocalization efforts, Brownlee's experiences with community action, both positive and negative, provide valuable insight to other relocalization groups around the world.
(20 June 2007)

What Assures Consumers On Climate Change?

Sarah Rich, WorldChanging
The mantra of businesses targeting and converting consumers towards sustainable purchasing patterns has long been "small steps make all the difference." At Worldchanging, we are generally of the mind that in fact small steps ultimately make no difference in the face of catastrophic environmental collapse and limited time to make real change. But it's never an easy argument, since everyone has to start somewhere, and our consumption choices matter a great deal in aggregate.

Last week, two UK-based organizations, AccountAbility and Consumers International, released an extensive consumer survey exploring the big problem/small action conundrum, among many other things. They surveyed 2,734 people in the UK and the US to get a better understanding of consumers' sentiments about how and what they buy, and most importantly to find out who they trust (and how much) for information about their decisions. The 64-page report (available as a downloadable PDF) contains some predictable findings, such as the fact that "climate change is a mainstream consumer issue," but it also delves deeper, investigating the problems inherent in current consumer trends towards "climate consciousness" and presenting solutions that might push us past a touchy transitional period between understanding the problem and learning to take effective action.
(24 June 2007)

The Home Front: Practical, achievable ways for Australians to cut energy consumption
Jonathan Holmes, Four Corners at ABC
Broadcast: 25/06/2007

While politicians clash noisily over global warming and how to fight it, millions of Australians are trying modestly to cut their energy use, to be a small part of a big solution.

But as Four Corners reveals, their efforts to save energy at home are being retarded by vested interests and a bewildering variety of rules and rebates, local, state and federal.

Households make 20 per cent of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. Experts say household emissions could be cut by close to a third. Their prescription is a cocktail of moderate reforms that would change the way Australians build their homes, heat them, cool them and light them, and a tougher approach to power-guzzling products.

If there is a single instrument that could improve the energy efficiency of new houses, it is Australia's building code, which sets minimum required standards for the building industry.

But how stringent are those standards? Compared with other countries, not stringent at all, Four Corners reveals. An innovative housing project in Queensland shows what could be achieved.

Typically, better design means more up-front cost - but that is offset by energy savings over time. "Not only are you reducing greenhouse gas emissions but you've got more money in your pocket," says energy policy consultant George Wilkenfeld.

If smarter home design can radically cut energy use, what can be done about the products inside? Four Corners asks if Australians have the facts when they buy appliances after building or renovating. If, for example, you've installed banks of funky "low-voltage" halogen lights, did you know you're facing big power bills? Or that the giant plasma TV may be gulping more power than anything else in the house?

Large-screen TVs are among a number of new, energy-sapping products that are not yet required to have energy labelling or to meet any mandatory minimum standard. But even for appliances that wear them, can the energy star labels be trusted?

Four Corners commissioned laboratory tests on some cheap imported appliances which carry stars boasting energy efficiency and sell by the thousands each year. As reporter Jonathan Holmes reveals, the results are alarming - and call in question how well the rating system is policed.

In the latest in his series of landmark reports on energy, Holmes also looks at what the major parties would do to help Australians cut energy consumption on "The Home Front" - on Four Corners, 8.30 pm Monday 25 June, ABC TV.

This program will be repeated about 11.35 pm Wednesday 27 June; also on ABC2 at 9.30 pm Wednesday and 8 am Thursday.
(25 June 2007)
Recommended by Big Gav.

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