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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Currently, the G20 contributes over 450 billion US dollars a year towards the oil, coal and natural gas industries, a figure which should be decreasing after it promised to phase out such incentives in favor of cleaner energies. In the UK however, the opposite is happening, with around $10 billion given to fossil fuel production last year, almost twice the amount given to renewables. In a time where environmental preservation should be a priority, why is the government going back on its promises?
According to them, they aren’t. This is due to a stricter definition of what a subsidy is: government action that lowers the gross price below the international average. Because of this, the UK technically doesn’t give subsidies to fossil fuel companies. This flawed definition means that the government can get away with supporting dirty energy while slowing the development of cleaner sources; while not strictly unethical, it does nothing to help the environment in its time of dire need.
This is by no means a call to eliminate these subsidies overnight, as doing so would be disastrous; hundreds of thousands of jobs would be lost along with a plethora of other negative effects. The industry claims that subsidies reduce the financial risks in a highly-competitive market, which isn’t a complete lie. Though there needs to be urgency, the UK government should focus on changing priorities over time. Instead, it seems to insist on keeping oil, gas and coal at the top of the energy agenda
As the need for decarbonisation grows, the political stance continues to be one of ignorance; surely the problem will solve itself? Of course it won’t. Governments across the world need to acknowledge in full the potentially devastating effects of global warming before it’s too late. If we can’t work together with them, we will never find a solution. This is the first of an ongoing series of posts investigating the G20’s fossil fuel subsidies.
If you would like to share your ideas, or have any information, be sure to leave a comment down below or tweet us!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Offshore Windfarm
Yesterday, following a recent deal with Associated British Powers, ScottishPower Renewables announced that the port of Lowestoft will be used as its management base for construction for the East Anglia One offshore windfarm from 2017 when building starts.
This deal will result in the creation of thousands of new jobs in the local area as well as around £25m investments in upgrading the port and surrounding harbour in order to make it more suitable for the 30-year lifetime of the project.
Jonathan Cole who is managing director of offshore windfarms for ScottishPower Renewables has said that the East Angla One windfarm is just one of a series of projects building up to the eventual goal of having the world's largest offshore windfarm off of the UK's east coast.
“These projects are so big, the benefit will be spread around,” he said. “Today we are announcing something positive for Lowestoft but the plan is for other areas of East Anglia to also benefit.”
As well as being of huge benefit to our local area, the town of Lowestoft, where thousands of jobs are being created, this is also of huge benefit to the country and world overall. With the huge investments in renewable energy we are one step closer to reducing our carbon emissions to a sustainable level.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The Eco Group at The Benjamin Britten High School consists of a range of students, from year 8 (12 years old) up to year 11 (16 years old), all of whom have either been there from the start of the group running under its current format, or have been picked up along the way.

The earliest members who are still present and active in the group today were recruited in September of 2012 by Mr G Champion and joined into a group which was purely focused on raising money for solar panels via 10:10’s Solar Schools Project. Unfortunately, the launch for our project didn’t go as well as anticipated but we didn’t let that affect our motivation as we continued to push for donations and help towards our goal of getting a solar roof. This project was interrupted however when our school signed up to the government’s free solar panel scheme which allowed the school to have solar panels fitted for free which produce energy to be fed back into the national grid, giving the school a discounted energy bill.

Fortunately, this meant that we now had solar panels and we hadn’t had to spend a penny of our raised money which meant we could spend it on other projects. This then led to a spectrum of potential projects being thought up. Although some of them seemed viable, others may have seemed a bit ambitious but we still managed to get through them! One of these projects was the Eco Group website (bbhseco.org) which was originally planned to be hosted by a solar powered Raspberry Pi microcomputer and contain “learning resources” including information about different environmental issues, etc. Unfortunately, we found that the Raspberry Pi would not be powerful enough to host this website so we had to make a compromise and use an online hosting service instead. This however did mean that we now had a spare Raspberry Pi which we could use for alternative projects.

Another project which spanned from our budget being directed away from solar panels is the solar garden project, which would contain a vertical garden, chicken coop and solar panel stand. As of now, the chicken coop is complete following many months of construction by the students, with help from local carpenter Andrew Stanley. We currently have four chickens living in the coop, all of whom are happy with their new homes following the departure from their previous ones including battery farms.

Both the vertical garden and the solar panel stand are underway and we aim to have these completed by the end of the academic year which would then complete our solar garden which has been at our main focus point over the past few years, where we have dedicated our own spare time to working towards the projects – including after school and half term time.

The vertical garden will be constructed from recycled plastic bottles containing plants, and the solar panel stand is set to power a Raspberry Pi camera which will eventually provide a live video feed of the chickens onto our website (bbhseco.org). These finishing touches to our garden will make it a truly amazing place and it will serve as a reminder as to what students can truly achieve through passion, perseverance and determination, with minimal help from teachers and other adults. The garden will be a great legacy of the current Eco Group, located in the heart of the school, and will hopefully remain maintained by younger year groups in the coming years who will be able to continue the projects and create new ones just as amazing. 

Through our hard work and perseverance of projects, we were recognised by those behind the Bernard Matthews Youth Awards who suggested we enter the education category of the awards. Following this, I filled out an application form detailing what our group is about and what we’ve achieved over the past few years. Not only were we lucky enough to be shortlisted, we actually won the category and were presented with our award at the awards event in OPEN, Norwich, which was presented by actress Dani Harmer and TV presented David Whitely. We are thrilled to have won the award and look forward to using our £1000 prize money towards finishing our current projects as well as starting new projects to be completed by the future eco group.


Tuesday, 3 November 2015

'Be the change you want to see in the world'
After months of hard work, BBHS Eco are delighted to announce their success in winning the Education award for environmental work at the Bernard Matthews Youth Awards on Tuesday 27th October.
The awards took place at Open in Norwich, and consisted of awards in eight categories:

  • Food and Farming
  • Sport
  • Charity
  • Arts
  • Bravery
  • Education
  • Community
  • Hero
The group won £1000, which will be used to construct a vertical garden, and pay for a chicken cam and specially adapted battery which allows the group to create a 24 hour live feed from the chicken coop to the website. Watch this space for more!

BBHS Eco would like to thank Bernard Matthews, the Eastern Daily Press, Open Norwich and The Garage for a wonderful evening. Although being student led, it is vital that credit also goes to our wonderful teacher and fellow environmental enthusiast Mr Champion who helped make our project possible!