Jeremy Corbyn enjoys a cut-price energy deal in his north London home from a company funded by millions of pounds of taxpayer cash. The Labour leader is on a tariff offered by the supplier Robin Hood Energy, a company run by Nottingham city council which offers deals that are about £200 a year cheaper than those from the Big Six firms. But the company is able to offer these cheap deals only after being funded by £25.5m of loans from the council since it launched in 2015. This includes £5.5m as recently as December. Despite the taxpayers’ cash, it has been haemorrhaging money, with losses of £2.5m in 2016 and £7.2m in 2017.
Times 17th March 2019 read more »
When Nottingham city council launched Britain’s first local authority-run energy supplier, it came with the promise that the firm would be run “not for profit, but for the people”. The first customer who signed up with Robin Hood Energy in September 2015 slashed their energy bill from £2,000 to £1,400. The launch came amid anger at how the Big Six energy companies — British Gas, SSE, Scottish Power, Npower, EDF and Eon — were making vast profits from customers who failed to switch tariffs. Nottingham city council said at the time: “The cost of utility bills has spiralled as the Big Six energy companies have exploited their monopoly.” Other councils followed its example. Today, though, a Money investigation lays bare the parlous state of some of these community-run schemes, with taxpayers paying millions of pounds to prop up loss-making ventures. Nottingham, Bristol and Portsmouth city councils as well as the Scottish government have spent more than £66m over five years to run the suppliers. It threatens to cause embarrassment for those who have backed the schemes. They include Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader. He is a customer of Robin Hood, which offers power through a deal with Islington council in north London. Our probe reveals that one community power firm, in Scotland, has already gone bust, another has received millions of pounds of public money despite having no customers, and others have received millions of pounds in loans from taxpayers. These will probably be written off should the companies fail.
Times 17th March 2019 read more »
Tackling climate change requires radical changes to the way we live, which will mean transforming urban spaces to break free from fossil fuel dependency. Paul Chatterton looks at how cities are responding to this post-carbon challenge. By 2050 an estimated three quarters of humanity will live in cities, accounting for 80 per cent of total energy demand and 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, so the need for cities to unlock themselves from fossil fuels is paramount. As cities across the world begin to recognise the need to move beyond carbon, net zero emissions has become a rallying cry. The goal is for urban areas to produce as much energy from renewable sources as they consume. It’s a huge task, with end and start points constantly moving. Target setting can be hubris without clearly identified plans, strong leadership and partnership working. There is no single consensus on what needs to be done and groupings of cities are striking out on their own. According to global engineering consultants Arup, 228 global cities, representing 436 million people, have already set greenhouse gas reduction goals and targets. Many have adopted net zero emissions targets by 2050 and 80 per cent reductions by 2030. The UK is already legally bound by the Climate Change Act to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. More than 300 UK municipalities have signed the Nottingham Declaration, which pledges them to systematically address the causes of climate change and to prepare their community for its impacts. The more ambitious task is to get to net zero emissions by 2050, in line with the evidence presented in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ‘Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C’ published in October 2018. Cities such as Oslo, Antwerp, Melbourne and Copenhagen have risen to this bigger ambition and are pushing for 100 per cent greenhouse gas reductions by at least 2050. Moreover, according to C40’s Deadline 2020 research, cities should reduce emissions to almost 3 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per person by 2030 in order to follow the path towards the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement. This will require an overall investment of $1 trillion up to 2050. That’s a huge challenge.
Centre for Alternative Technology 13th March 2019 read more »