Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Yanking the levers of power

Right. It's here at last. The project I've spent nearly two years working on - a carbon calculator for the entire UK economy.

The idea was to create an interactive tool to show where all the UK's emissions were really coming from, and how different policies or behaviour changes would affect them. After slogging away at this on my own for a year, I decided to approach the Guardian to see if I could get it on their website - you'll be shocked to learn that, huge as my readership is, more people would be likely to see it over there than on this blog. I managed to catch their interest, they got their web team on the case, and we've been working to pull it together for the last six months or so.

And now, finally, it's arrived. Go and have a play, take control of the UK economy, and try to reduce our emissions to a safe level. Some particularly interesting things that stand out for me:

* Consumption is absolutely key. It's not possible to get down to a safe level without a reduction in the amount of stuff we consume as a nation.
* Ten new nuclear plants would make a pifflingly small difference to overall emissions, in relation to the massive cost and risk they would involve.
* None of the major political parties are offering policies that come near what the model tells us we need - the Guardian has got the energy/environment spokespeople for each party to have a go on the tool, and post their results online. The Conservative Greg Clark's response is particularly hilarious - he manages to totally evade the issue and talks about watermelons instead. Brilliant.

I'd love to know what you think...the model isn't perfect, and I'm hoping to be able to work on improving it as we go along. Your suggestions would be very welcome.

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