'Bold target' urged to tackle emissions

THE East of England should pursue a “bold target” setting the region at the forefront in reducing CO2 emissions, according to a strategy set out by the East of England Development Agency.

THE East of England should pursue a “bold target” setting the region at the forefront in reducing CO2 emissions, according to a strategy set out by the East of England Development Agency.

The agency is looking for final feedback on a draft regional economic strategy which sets out reducing CO2 as one of three major targets for the East of England as the deadline for responses approaches.

It believes the region should be positioning itself as a “global innovation centre” with “a bold target that would put us at the forefront of global regions in reducing CO2 emissions”.

It also wants to see employment rates increased with more skills training and greater productivity and prosperity through a series of measures outlined in the draft, which was published in September and reaches the end of a its consultation period on Monday .


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EEDA chairman Richard Ellis, speaking at the Agricultural Industries Confederation annual conference, underlined the agency's green ambitions as he outlined the moves already being made by the agri-food industry to tackle climate change.

He also hailed “a major cultural shift” as supermarkets try to “out-green” each other as the UK seeks to move towards a greener future.

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“We must see climate change as an opportunity, and not just a threat,” he said. “The supermarkets have all spent at least the last few months trying to out-green each other.

“Whilst it is of course easy to be cynical of their motives, I think we are witnessing a major cultural shift as consumers put pressure on the whole chain to demonstrate their environmental credentials. This is good news.”

He pointed to schemes, including by British Sugar, where glasshouses are using waste heat and CO2 from industrial processes to produce high yields of salad crops under glass. He also praised an initiative by Biogen, part of Bedfordia Group, which has installed an anaerobic digestion plant to process pig slurry and food waste into a soil improver and into energy.

“We need many more of these plants, and I am pleased to say that one of the major constraints on growth in this sector is currently being addressed by the Environment Agency, which is looking into a digestate standard to allow the end product to be returned to farm land. This follows lobbying by business, and I want to take this opportunity to thank the Minister, Lord Rooker, for his help in this area following his visit to Biogen with me earlier this year,” he said.

In its draft economic strategy, EEDA seeks views on a target for a 60% reduction in CO2 by 2031, compared to the 1990 baseline.

“Our low-lying geography and scarce water resources make the East of England the most at risk from climate change of all the regions in the UK,” it says.

“Academic and commercial expertise within the region provides a strong rationale for a bold target that would put us at the forefront of global regions in reducing CO2.”

The draft strategy calls for “an ideas-driven region, that is internationally competitive, harnesses the talent of all and is at the forefront of the low carbon economy”.

EEDA chief executive David Marlow said there had already been a lot of response to the document, and workshops had been held.

“I think in the East of England, and indeed in Suffolk, we have got to be ambitious. We are the region most vulnerable to climate change,” he said.

“I would argue we are probably the region with the most opportunities from climate change.”

He pointed out that while the UK target for energy from renewable resources was 14% by 2010, it was believed this region would achieve 16% by that point.

“There's also a lot more than can be done in terms of sustainable construction of buildings. We are doing a lot of work there and indeed on waste management,” he said. “I think we have got to trial and develop many new solutions that remove the over-reliance on landfill.”

To have your say on the development of the regional economic strategy for the East of England 2008-2031, you can respond to the strategy consultation online by Monday by visiting www.eeda.org.uk/resreview.

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