WAG: Green route to sustainable energy - The Welsh Assembly Government’s (WAG) has taken a major step on the path to making Wales a low carbon energy economy with the launch of its Renewable Energy Route Map, which sets out a programme aimed at transforming the way Wales produces & uses energy (consultation closes on 13 May 2008).
It is intended to demonstrate to the world what even small countries can be doing to maximise the use of their natural renewable resources. Among the proposals addressed by the Route Map are:
* Encouraging innovation to capture the power of the seas around Wales
* Utilising the wind resource of Wales
* Changes to planning guidance to make it easier for people to install domestic micro-generation technology
* Ensuring all new buildings in Wales are built to the highest possible low carbon standards
* Developing a strong ‘green jobs’ strategy to provide the skills base to be a leader in renewable energy
The document claims that Wales is fortunate to have considerable natural renewable energy resources, which if sensitively, but extensively exploited, could make Wales self sufficient in renewable electricity within 20 years - with half of this from marine, a third from wind and the rest from biomass and micro-generation.
STFC: Will this mean we can maintain our love affair with the car? - The possibility of generating hydrogen from sea water using sunlight energy is now one step closer, thanks to the scientists at Atmos Technologies, based at the Science and Technology Facilities Council's Daresbury Laboratory, who have successfully developed an environmentally friendly technique for the production of photo voltaic diodes, at a fraction of the previous cost and carbon footprint.
Photo voltaic diodes work by using sunlight to generate electrical power, which is applied to two terminals submerged in sea water. The sea water is separated by the electrical power, generating hydrogen at one terminal and oxygen at the other. The hydrogen is collected & stored for use either in fuel cells which can power electric motors or in conventional engines.
Defra: Ensuring your offset is not ruled offside - Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has challenged the voluntary offsetting industry to provide strong standards for offsetting products so that they can be part of the Government Code of Best Practice for consumer offsetting products, which will be backed by a quality mark.
The Government's decision claims to recognise the efforts of the industry so far to develop different standards for Voluntary Emission Reductions (VERs), and encourages the industry to come together & build on the existing groundwork. The principles that will need to be addressed by an industry standard are:
* additionality, meaning that the carbon savings must be in addition to reductions that would be made anyway
* avoiding carbon leakage, or emissions avoided on one site simply being moved somewhere else
* permanence, ensuring that emissions reductions were not simply put off until later (as with trees)
* verification systems for emissions reductions
* transparency on the methodologies & procedures used, and
* avoiding double counting, ensuring that emissions counted in an offset product are not counted elsewhere, for example as savings through an emissions trading scheme
AEA have been appointed to become the accreditation body for the Code and they have issued the final draft of the Code for industry comment on accreditation procedures. The quality mark associated with the work is currently being developed and will be ready to be used when the first products are accredited later in 2008.
NAO: Classical Degree still favoured over professional financial qualification? - A follow-up to the National Audit Office’s (NAO) 2003 report looks at how capable departments are at managing their financial resources. With Treasury guidance & support, Departments are producing better information about their financial performance. Most departments now have a professionally qualified Finance Director on their main Board, and non-executive Directors are providing robust, independent challenge to these Boards.
However, six departments, accounting for over £45bn (8%) of total central government expenditure, still do not have a professionally qualified Finance Director on their main Board, despite the Treasury requirement that they do so by December 2006.
Only 40% of departments invariably provide decision-makers with a full analysis of the financial implications of policy proposals. Financial management matters are not automatically included in the performance assessment criteria of Permanent Secretaries & other Senior Civil Servants and not a single Permanent Secretary holds a professional finance qualification.
The Treasury and other stakeholders have taken steps – such as through their Finance Skills for All training course, to improve the financial skills & awareness of non-finance staff, who are usually the budget holders responsible for the day-to-day management of departments’ financial resources. But nearly 70% of departments cited the level of skills of non-finance staff as one of the three most significant barriers to improving financial resource management across government.
CRC: Is local democracy still alive & kicking outside urban areas? - Crispin Moor, Whitehall Director for the Commission for Rural Communities, has written about the CRC’s participation inquiry 'Strengthening the role of local councillors' for the latest issue of Whitehall and Westminster World.
He explains the reasons behind the inquiry and presents its recommendations for helping make citizens more fully engaged in local decision-making, enhance the democratic role for rural communities and create a stronger, more effective voice for local councillors.
Press release ~ Crispin's article ~ 'Strengthening the role of local councillors' ~ Full article ~ Inquiry report and recommendations ~ Whitehall and Westminster WorldUpcoming Event: Common issues when presenting the public face of an organisation - The pressure for simultaneous transparency, consistency and cost effectiveness is putting an ever higher premium on the integration of the public affairs function.
Internally, organisations are often plagued by rivalry between management functions each claiming to deal with the external environment. Externally, the reform of the European Union and the intensification of global co-operation make new demands with each passing year.
Joined up public affairs is clearly desirable. How can it be delivered at a time of increased budget stringency and public questioning of the role of lobbyists?
The European Centre for Public Affairs (ECPA) Annual Conference (05/03/2008) in Brussels is designed as a space in which the public affairs function can examine its own health and effectiveness. The best brains in European public affairs will once again gather to discover new insights and find practical tools to make the practitioner more effective.
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