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Energy and the Environment

Environment “System Change, not Climate Change” is a slogan used by the global climate justice movement. How, who, what, when, and where of systems change can seem overwhelming. How do we transform a society whose fossil fuel habits have been entrenched for decades? The next step is to get smarter in telling governments precisely what we want. Professor Stephen Peake recently proposed 6 steps for a global system change to rapidly replace fossil fuel with level of intent and cooperation; these steps are:
  1. Stop wasting energy
  2. Tax carbon
  3. Make local public transport free
  4. Quit buying unnecessary things
  5. Planetary diet, rewilded grasslands
  6. Protect and rebel in smart ways to change the system – Keep shouting for a new political economy.

The extraction and supply of fuels for heating, transport and electricity generation can result in significant local environmental impacts. By-product wastes raise particular concerns. Other energy impacts, such as atmospheric pollution, can be globally harmful. Carbon dioxide emissions are noted for their potential to accelerate global warming. Sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxides are noted for enhancing the acidification of rain. Phosphates are noted for their impacts on biodiversity in the oceans, and numerous other elements are noted for their potential to add toxicity to the environment by air, land, and water pathways.

An example of this, researched by The Open University, involves the sequestration of methane, formed from the decomposition of waste within municipal landfills. This waste can be co-processed to minimise its volume and environmental impact, and to generate low-carbon electrical power.

The integrate waste systems group focuses on sustainable resource and waste management especially in relation to energy and waste.

Further Information

For further information on OU energy and the environment research, please contact Dr Stephen Peake (Senior Lecturer in Environmental Technology):

Telephone: 01908 659992
URL: www.open.ac.uk/people/sp848