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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 February 2008, 21:09 GMT
Moral appeal for UK energy saving
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Dr Richard Chartres. Image: Getty
Dr Chartres is one of several religious leaders backing E-Day
The battle against climate change has been described by a church leader as a "moral issue", at the launch of a strategy to reduce UK electricity use.

The Bishop of London said parts of the world are already affected by change.

Energy Saving Day, which is backed by environmental and religious groups and major energy companies, asks people to turn off electrical devices not in use.

Over 24 hours from 1800 GMT Wednesday, the National Grid will monitor what effect this has on UK consumption.

The BBC News website will be displaying results in close to real time.

Organisations from all sectors of society have been prepared to see what they can do to help tackle climate change
Matt Prescott
Major energy companies including EDF, E.On and National Power are offering customers simplified access to home insulation.

At a launch event featuring a bicycle-powered cinema showing specially-commissioned short films on climate, bishop Dr Richard Chartres made the moral case for taking part.

"Let us remember people in the Ganges delta who are already feeling the effects of sea level rise and climate change," he said.

"The science changes year by year - though rarely in the right direction - but the moral imperative remains the same."

Responsible reward

E-DAY ELECTRICITY METER

Actual consumption:

1043364 MWh

Usual consumption:

1042714 MWh

SOURCE: e-day.org.uk

This data is supplied by the National Grid, via E-Day. It is updated every 30 minutes during the 24 hours of E-Day.

Actual consumption shows the energy used so far during the 24 hours; Usual consumption is what the National Grid predicted under "business as usual".

E-Day was conceived and developed by Matt Prescott, a scientist and long-time campaigner for low-energy lightbulbs.

"I'm delighted by the way in which so many organisations from all sectors of society have been prepared to see what they can do to help tackle climate change," he told BBC News.

"They have offered to set aside their day-to-day differences in order to highlight that they accept the available science, agree that saving energy is a good idea, and want to simplify and widen access to some of the other potential solutions to climate change."

Those organisations include some of the UK's principal energy retailers, and the environmental groups that sometimes lambast them for their greenhouse gas emissions.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Great idea! Pity I only found out about it nearly 15 hours into the day itself. Perhaps more energy needed to be spent on publicity
Veronica, London

"We do call on companies to take more action," said Ashok Sinha, director of Stop Climate Chaos, an umbrella campaigning group on climate change.

"But we think it's welcome that they're encouraging their customers to save energy - that's responsible behaviour for an energy company."

The government obliges energy providers to offer energy saving measures to their customers.

People can use the E-Day website to register their interest in receiving help from these companies with loft and wall insulation.

Grid lines

E-Day started life as a Planet Relief, which was to have been an awareness-raising BBC TV programme with a large element of comedy.

But in September the BBC decided to pull the project, saying viewers preferred factual or documentary programmes about climate change.

Electricity pylons (Image: PA)
The National Grid will be able to see if the campaign affects demand
The decision came after poor audiences for Live Earth, and public debate over whether it was the corporation's role to "save the planet".

Dr Prescott then decided to see whether he could mount E-Day as an independent operation, and secured the backing of important partners such as the energy companies and the National Grid.

Its role is crucial, acting as an independent and credible monitor of how much difference E-Day makes to the UK's electricity consumption.

Part of the Grid's job is to forecast demand for electricity. It says its forecasts are usually accurate to within 1% - so comparing demand across the 24 hours of E-Day with its predictions should provide an accurate measure of whether the initiative has made much difference.

Dr Prescott believes savings are likely to be small, up to 3%.

But even this could be the equivalent of taking a coal-fired power station off line for the day.

And he hopes the event will help confirm the idea that personal action can make a noticeable impact on energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Richard.Black-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk



SEE ALSO
UK homes urged to 'leave it off'
05 Feb 08 |  Science/Nature
Playing the meter
21 Nov 07 |  Magazine
Finding a smart way to save energy
22 Jun 07 |  Science/Nature
Homes to get free energy monitors
16 Apr 07 |  Science/Nature
Saving energy on the home front
23 Oct 06 |  Science/Nature
Bringing meters out of the closet
18 May 06 |  Science/Nature

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