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LizzieWeakley posted a blog entry in Lizzie Weakley's Green BlogA more energy-efficient community is a goal that is reachable nearly anywhere. There are a number of different ways that a community can become more energy-efficient. The key is to find those areas of the community that use the most energy and then work to lower that use. It is also helpful to work to increase to the overall green nature of the community at the same time. Cutting Energy Use and Lower Costs The first step in creating a more energy-efficient community is to cut energy costs by lowering use. It can be hard to do this without affecting users. One of the best ways to not negatively impact others, but still lower energy costs, is to install more energy-efficient lighting. Just a few years ago this was not a cost friendly proposal. But with the rise of cheaper high quality LED lighting and lower wattage traditional bulbs, it is a far easier choice to make. Great Green Space Use Heating and cooling urban areas uses a lot of energy. Finding a more energy efficient way to keep humans comfortable as they go about their day is very important. Smart use of plants and other natural features is the smart way to lower energy use. Trees and green spaces help to soak up the summer heat during the day. At night, they act as biological filters to remove greenhouse gases from the air. Plants and green space can be set up either on the ground or as part of the building themselves. A living green roof made of soil and hardy grasses can naturally absorb the sun's heat. This reduces the workload that the air conditioning units have to handle. Public Transport Options Putting in well-designed mass transport and cycling lanes is another way to cut down on energy use in a community. The skills of someone with a master’s of civil engineering can be used to create routes that will encourage community residents to ditch energy hungry private vehicles. By using buses, trams or subways larger numbers of people can travel for the same energy costs. If citizens are encouraged to ride bicycles instead of driving for short trips, energy use will go down. Public systems succeed worldwide when they are planned well. There are many great ways for a community to lower its energy use. Choosing the best option for each community is important. Whether it is as simple as screwing a new LED light bulb into every lamppost or as complex as putting in cycling infrastructure, the world is better for it.
Ian Angus posted a article in Cars & TransportationCutting greenhouse gas emissions will throw millions of people out of work! That claim has made many working people reluctant to support action to slow climate change. But is it true? Our Jobs, Our Planet, a report written in 2011 by Jonathan Neale for the European Transport Workers Federation, argues the opposite, that changing the ways that goods and people are moved can reduce emissions from the transport sector by 80% while creating over 12 million new jobs – 7 million in transportation and 5 million in renewable energy. The author of Stop Global Warming, Change the World writes that such a program will be a big win for workers and for the planet: “there are more than 40 million people out of work in Europe now. The planet needs help. They need work. If we succeed, we can solve both problems at once.” Neale’s argument focuses on four kinds of changes: Reduce. We change our lives so we use less energy. For example, cities with dense populations, nearby jobs and local shops create less emissions than suburbs and hypermarkets. Shift. We use a different kind of transport. For example, getting passengers out of cars and into buses cuts carbon dioxide emissions in half. Improve. We make transport more efficient. For example, better designed trucks moving at slower speeds will cut carbon dioxide emissions in half. Electrify. We stop making electricity by burning coal and gas. Instead we use renewables like wind and solar power. This can cut carbon dioxide emissions to almost nothing. The majority of Neale’s 103-page study is a well-documented explanation of how those four principles can be implemented in Europe today, dramatically reducing fossil fuel use while creating millions of new permanent jobs. He also addresses a problem that many such analyses ignore —that under capitalism, jobs created in one area often means jobs eliminated elsewhere. Much more employment in public transport can mean much less in auto manufacturing, for example. That’s why, Neale argues, the transition requires an integrated plan based on public ownership of the industries involved, with a “bedrock guarantee … that anyone who loses a high carbon job is guaranteed proper, lengthy retraining and a new job at the same wages or better.” He urges the labour movement to adopt a two-pronged program for reducing emissions and expanding employment. “If unions stick to policies that support growth in all sectors, we will not be able to deliver that growth. Climate change is coming. If we do not take radical action, we will face radical circumstances. When climate catastrophe arrives, governments will cut aviation, trucking and much else swiftly and savagely. Then there will be no protection for the workers affected. “So unions will need to do two things at once. We need to campaign for serious cuts to emissions. But we need to insist at the same time that those cuts can only come if workers are properly protected. We need to be control of the process, not have it done to us. This is not just a matter for workers in aviation and road freight. It will only happen if workers in other sectors, and other unions, insist that all workers are protected.” Our Jobs, Our Planet: Transport Workers and Climate Change is an important report in its own right, showing what could be done in Europe today with proper planning. It’s also an important example for labour and environmental activists everywhere: this is the kind of analysis and program we need to build an effective labor-green alliance to save the world. I’ve posted the full report here. (pdf)