Socialist Alliance candidate for Lord Mayor Zane Alcorn, and fellow Ward Three candidates Laura Ealing and Thomas Cameron are advocating the implementation of a radical new scheme to cut Newcastle’s carbon emissions and make the city completely energy self-sufficient.
At a recent candidates forum organised by the Newcastle Alliance, Alcorn argued that with the Arctic likely to melt by 2013, council couldn’t afford to ignore climate change. But current Lord Mayor John Tate’s response was to deny any responsibility, arguing that the onus is on individuals to make changes at a household level.
To prove that council can and should be leading on climate action, the Socialist Alliance candidates have proposed that Newcastle use Woking, a town in the UK, as a blueprint to get Newcastle off the electricity grid altogether.
“Woking has reduced its carbon emissions by 77% since 1990. There’s no reason why Newcastle council can’t do the same thing here,” Alcorn argues.
“We can cut Newcastle’s emissions dramatically by utilising solar and wind power and supplementing this with combined heat and power plants (CHPs). About 70% of the energy from coal-fired power stations is lost in heat or transmission. CHPs are highly efficient as they capture this heat and can exist within city centres, minimising energy wastage.” says Alcorn.
“We can choose whether we want to take the initiative and do something to safeguard the future of our planet, or we can sit back and watch passively as things disintegrate,” warns Cameron. Cameron noted that London council also plans to cut its emissions by 60% over the next 20 years.
And claims that council can’t afford to implement the proposal won’t wash with the candidates either. Ealing stresses that “If anything the transition that Woking has made has strengthened their local economy - Woking council has reduced its annual energy bills by almost a million pounds, and the energy bills for council residents are lower too.
“Newcastle council can afford to do this, and what’s more, it can’t afford not to. Climate change is happening at a speed that no one predicted, and anyone who tries to claim that it’s not their responsibility is simply unfit for leadership”.