Chancellor Needs to Budget for a Rainy Day

According to the BBC website, an item first broadcast on Radio 4 in 2012* about how many terms Brits had for rain brought forth a torrent of responses. Included among the 428 comments posted on Auntie’s website was an apparently authoritative assertion that the Welsh have 26 words (each listed) for rain. We are headquartered in Wales and can confirm it rains a lot, so are not in the slightest surprised by this. Dreich is a wonderfully descriptive Scottish word for those relentlessly bleak, rainy days. And my have we had our share of those over the winter.

Indeed, data recently released by the UK Meteorological Office† revealed we endured a record-breaking rainfall this winter, the wettest in the record series for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It was also the second-wettest for the UK as a whole just behind the winter of 2013/2014.

The Met Office’s press release issued on Tuesday 1st March makes discomfiting reading: “The latest end of month statistics [for January 2016] show it was provisionally the warmest winter for England and Wales since the record series began in 1910, while it was the third-warmest for the UK as a whole. The warmth has been most notable in the south of the UK with mean temperatures across much of the area more than 2C above average.

“In the Central England Temperature record series, the longest temperature record in the world dating back to 1659, this winter has been the second-warmest at 6.7C, just behind the previous record of 6.8C set 1869.”

NASA†† also released data sets in January showing planet Earth had just experienced its warmest every year since modern records began.

The link between greenhouses gases and precipitation are well documented. The extreme, widespread flooding experienced in so many parts of the UK this winter saw hundreds of thousands of homes, farmland and commercial premises dramatically submerged under raging torrents. Tragically lives, livestock and livelihoods were lost.

The economic cost of this winter’s floods is estimated at £5billion. The human impact inestimable. And the planet?

All this data is surely the final inconvenient truth for the climate change deniers. The evidence is incontrovertible, climate change is happening right here on the breached doorsteps of Cumbria, York, Durham and Lancashire, Yorkshire and Northumberland and any number of other sodden cities, towns, villages and hamlets across the UK.

It is further evidence, as if it were needed, that the UK government must act right now to put practical policies in place to encourage behaviour change that will directly reduce carbon emissions to mitigate global warming.

This week’s Budget presents the Chancellor of the Exchequer with a ground-breaking opportunity to do something genuinely radical to deliver meaningful, practical help to all those beleaguered ‘hard working families of Britain’.

There are plenty of options being discussed around the dinner party tables and workplace water coolers of Britain. Here’s just a couple of ideas customers and prospects eager to make the switch to renewable technologies tell us they would welcome. DECC could radically re-design the RHI scheme by offering (say) a £1,000 incentive payment to those ‘ordinary hardworking families’ George Osborne talks of so often. He could offer those homeowners and responsible registered private and social landlords a meaningful sum to put towards the purchase of clean, green, carbon-neutral heating technologies – such as a biomass heating and hot water system.

Alternatively, he could divert the RHI subsidies towards energy saving home improvements on leaky older properties such as double glazing, tank lagging and loft insulation. A much more simplified, easy to access, less bureaucratic ‘Green Deal’ if you like.

Perversely, the Government’s consultation paper The Renewable Heat Incentive: A reformed and refocused scheme, looks all set to penalise the biomass heating industry for being the most successful carbon reduction technology in the UK to date.

The consequences of a half-hearted re-work and kowtowing to the powerful lobbyists acting on behalf of a few dozen influential super-wealthy landowners, doesn’t bear reflection.

Sources: *BBC News Magazine 18.06.2012

† Met Office Press release 1st March 2016 http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/2016/winter-statistics

†† NASA: 2015 warmest year since modern record keeping began:

http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-noaa-analyses-reveal-record-shattering-global-warm-temperatures-in-2015

The Renewable Heat Incentive: A reformed and refocused scheme https://econsultation.decc.gov.uk/decc-policy/the-renewable-heat-incentive-a-reformed-and-refocu

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