Welcome to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC)'s Youth Advisory Panel (YAP)'s blog. The DECC YAP is a group of young people aged between 15 and 25 from all over the UK, with a wide-range of backgrounds, from academia to activism.

Our aim is to inform everyone and anyone about DECC's activities and likewise to help DECC understand and take into account the concerns of young people. We are a medium of consultancy and conversation. Much of our work looks at finding a 'Pathway to 2050', reviewing how energy with be supplied and used in the next four decades, so follow us and join us on the journey!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Report Launch: An Account

The Youth Panel with Minister, Charles Hendry
The work of the past few months has come together, and we produced a hugely exciting document ( "Energy: How Fair Is It Anyway?"). We hope to have opened up many opportunities for young people to participate in the decision making process, especially when the decisions are to affect our and future generations.

The Launch

We started the day with meeting Charles Hendry (Minister for Energy and Climate Change) to discuss the report, the work and the future of the Panel within the Department. As ever, Charles Hendry was receptive and enthusiastic about us, and we look forward to working with him more closely in the coming months.

Rt Hon Charles Hendry with panellists Michael Furey and John Northall
The rest of the afternoon was spent preparing for the official launch event. Around 60 people attended from DECC, charities and relevant businesses.

The Launch was chaired by the ever-brilliant Kirsty Schneeberger, who has co-ordinated the Youth Panel over the past months to great success. David McKay, the chief scientific adviser at DECC, was first to speak delivering his thoughts on the panel. Then Panellists Luke Hughes, Alice Hemming and Tom Youngman presented the Youth Advisory Panel, our work, experiences and the findings of the report itself to the attendees.

Alice, Luke and David MacKay, DECC chief scientist
Afterwards, we went to communicate via live web links with groups that are attending the COP16 climate conference in CancĂșn – the British Council's 'Climate Champions' and the  UK Youth Climate Coalition. Also, there was a video-chat with members of Young Friends of the Earth Europe at another conference in Brussels (for European activists that couldn't make it to CancĂșn). It was great to feel that the work of activists in the UK was concurrent with others across the globe and that the solution we as a Panel are seeking in the UK is being resonated internationally.

Overall the event was a huge success. Our relationship with the people at DECC has strengthened and we are now starting to get a better understanding of where we fit in with the work of the department. We look forward to working with the department in the future.

The event was streamed live online and live-blogged - if you want to feel part of the action, you can view a replay of the live blog.

- Unkha Banda & Tom Youngman

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The deed..

It is done..

Well done one and all, the futures near, the futures green, the futures young..!

Report Launch: Reflections From A Visitor

- Camille Rearden, Green Vision, Bath

As someone who has never experienced the DECC before I was initially nervous about coming to the report launch as I had no idea what to expect. When I entered the room it was great to have the opportunity to talk to so many interesting people who do so much work that is beneficial for our environment. The report presentation was very insightful and fills me with hope for the future. I am sure that it will provide inspiration needed to get the young people of Britain more involved in the decision making process for energy. Recently the protests against the University cuts have been widely covered throughout the country and i hope that this passion for the protection of our futures that people have shown can be channeled into environmentalism as well. This is a definite indicator of many great things to come!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Oh gooooood gosh!

Its Rose here, its been a little while since I last wrote and its a little while till something else too..

We have 40 hours and 7 minuets till the launch, everyone on the panel has worked over the last year towards this, and everyone that has contributed online, this is your climax!

In less than 40 hours it will come to a head, the report will be in hard copy and we will be rushing around various parts of the country and capital telling all sorts of people precisely what we think, what we've found and what they should do, as well as listening to what they have to say in response.

I haven't got too much to update you all on, but just know that this is the final 100m!!!!

As a panel member attending since the first pilot meeting on the 9th of febuary, I have seen how much work has been put in and I commend every member of the Panel.
I have enjoyed the last 12 months so much, and I cannot calm down in anticipation for Thursday...although equally, the day after will be just as nice..as will the future for the Panel, whatever that may hold, anyway, I'm off to try and focus enough to eat my dinner,

Thank you for reading and I'm sure we could well see some of you on Thursday!

Much love, the Climate Avengers**!

**Not yet an offical title :(

Friday, 26 November 2010

The Report

Pens are scribbling, fingers are typing as the panel gets ready for the launch of our report in time for the UN Climate Talks in Cancun...

In other news:


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Students Gather to 'Reclaim Our Future'

by Tom Youngman 

Shared Planet is an annual conference, run by student campaigning network, People & Planet, and is the largest of its kind in the UK. People & Planet are behind potent campaigns focusing on climate change and corporate power, translating into tangible success, especially with their 'Transition Unis' project, taking positive practical action to make university education more sustainability and their 'Green League', ranking universities by their level of sustainability. When the Youth Advisory Panel were invited to run a workshop at Shared Planet, we were therefore quick to take them up on the offer! We used the opportunity both to gain feedback on our work and to hear other points of view on the various topics covered in our upcoming report.

The conference was opened by leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas MP, who delivered a powerful speech covering many issues of interest to the Youth Panel. Of particular interest was her use of the phrase 'intergenerational fairness' - which is very similar, if less binding, to the phrase we have considered key during when carrying out our activities, 'intergenerational equity'. Her assertion that 'you can't have infinite economic growth on a finite planet' was a key theme throughout the conference. Other notable speakers included Nick Dearden of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, Amanda Starbuck of the Rainforest Action Network and Aaron Porter, NUS chairman, who featured on the conference's closing panel.

Click 'read more' for the full story! 

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

National Grid: UK Energy Distribution

Image from 'Pylon of the Month'
by Michael Furey
The National Grid UK is responsible for the transportation of energy (both gas and electricity) from different sources (such as power stations; wind farms; gas fields) to end users (e.g homes, schools, business). Conceptualised during the early 1920s, the electricity grid was built in 1926 to reduce electricity costs, and deliver this incredible resources to the masses.

The day predominantly focused on the national electricity grid, starting with a detailed breakdown of the ‘wiring’ layout which is found across the UK. The presentations then focused on the technical workings of the grid, specifically looking at the efforts undertaken to maintain adequate electricity supplies in the face of a highly variable demand profile. This in itself presents the largest hurdle for many emerging generating technologies (especially renewables) as periods when these sources may be most active are not necessarily at times when the highest demand is experienced. Put in layman’s terms, unlike a traditional power station, you can’t tell a wind farm to suddenly start generating more energy to ensure adequate electricity supply is available for the end of 'The X Factor' when people get up to make a cup of tea. The ability therefore to capture periods of abundant energy production from these sources, and smooth existing demand variability, will practicality determine the future of these energy sources. The 'smart grid' is the proposed solution to this - look out for a blog post about this soon.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Energy: how fair is it anyway?

Thanks to everyone for filling out the earlier Youth Panel survey back in July - the responses were great and helped inform the discussions we have had these last few months.

We have just released a new survey about energy and fairness - and we want you to tell us how fair you think energy production is. The information from this survey will help inform the youth panel's final discussion on energy.

This will all be written up in the youth panel final report that is submitted to the government! Please take 5 minutes to let us know what you think so that your voice can be heard. The link to the survey is here:

If you'd like to easily share the survey with friends, use the short-url:

Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

BBC documentary on the National Grid

The BBC this week screened the first episode of the new series, 'The Secret Life of the National Grid'. Members of the Youth Advisory Panel visited the National Grid this month - a blog post will soon follow - and the grid will be key in our forthcoming report. Check out the programme here.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Hinkley Point Visit: Initial Reaction

Tom, Zach, Kash and Alice at Taunton Railway Station
Aakash, Alice, Kirsty, Zach and myself (Tom) today visited Hinkley Point nuclear power station, near Bridgwater, Somerset. The site itself is split into Hinkley Point A - a plant out of use and now owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency (NDA), in the process of being decommissioned by contractors Magnox South - and Hinkley Point B, owned by British Energy, itself owned by EDF and Centrica, and still operational. Both offered very different aspects of nuclear power, and were invaluable for us to see. I'll tease you with a few details about the visit, but a more complete post will follow.

Hinkley Point B is a massive station housing two reactors, powering one million homes. It employs seven-hundred people and provides a huge boost to the local economy, but as environmentalists and young people, we wondered at what cost? Although nuclear power has relatively low carbon emissions per unit generated, the lasting legacy of nuclear waste worried all of us - is it ethical to leave hugely hazardous waste for our descendants to deal with thousands of years into the future? Over time standards and spending may slip, and a catastrophic accident could ensue. The reactor itself appeared rigourously safe - we felt reassured that an incident like that at Chernobyl would never be allowed to happen - but can we guarantee some body will exist for thousands of years to deal with this waste?

More to follow shortly. We were not allowed to take pictures in or around the site, so photos are of us in the train station and taxi, unexcitingly!

Kash is worried about sprouting extra fingers if exposed to radiation before the visit, and Alice is disgusted at Kirsty's happiness.

Friday, 15 October 2010

A Beginner’s Guide To Retrofitting

On 27th September, Kirsty, Zach and I met up in trendy Notting Hill to visit a nice Victorian terraced house … with a difference. This particularly house has been stripped out inside and made as green as modern technology will allow.

Set in a conservation area (which means the outside of the house has to stay looking the same), Octavia Housing won government funding through Retrofit for the Future to convert the 170 year old property at 100 Princedale Road to PassivHaus standards. The grant was for £175,000 – but the house was uninhabitable and just to get it up to living standards would have needed £125,000, so this only needed £50,000 extra. The German system uses intelligent engineering to make the house virtually air tight – across the whole house, if you added up the minute gaps, you’d scarcely reach the surface area of a £1 coin. That’s quite small compared with draughty windows and letterboxes across the country!

So we went to take a look round (in really embarrassing high-viz jackets and hard hats).

This sealed approach means that there is a 94% reduction in energy needed to heat the house. 94%!!! That’s massive. And it means that there is an 87% reduction in carbon emissions. Amazing. It achieves this by insulating all the walls with a sandwich of chipboard, foam glass (a bit like fibreglass but looks like plastic foam) and plasterboard. It’s a serious 15cm sandwich. And that foam glass also covers anything like beams or supports leading to the outside and might conduct heat outside. It means that overall, less than 0.1 watts per metre are lost to the outside – normally it would be 0.35 watts lost per metre.

All sorts of clever technology inside reduces carbon emissions – solar water heater, and an air to air heat exchanger which heats (or cools in the summer) air coming in from outside and circulates the old air out and the new air in. That exchanger has a filter that needs changed every couple of years … it phones you when it needs changed! Everything is as simple as possible with one switch for the whole system, and cheaper than a conventional gas central heating system to maintain.

We were really impressed and all left wanting to live there. But the big hope would be that costs could come down, and incentives could be provided to allow everyone to retrofit their home. With that much energy to be saved, it has to be a good idea!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

DRAX Power Station

Panelists Mairi McInnes,Zachary Confino & Michael Furey accompanied by the wonderful Kirsty Schneeberger visit Drax Power Station, Doncaster, 13th October 2010.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Butterfly Effect

On Wednesday 8th September Unkha and I woke up early to travel into Bristol to observe a local planning committee discuss, deliberate and (I imagined) have heated debate about a recently approved application to develop a Biofuels plant in the City.

Bristol, being a City on the River Severn, has an old dockyard site called Avonmouth Docks and on that site the Council has granted planing permission for the development of a Biofuels Plant, or more specifically 'construction of Biomass fuel store and biomass fired electricity generating plant' (see the webiste for more info on consent 09/00506/K).

The Biofuels Plant is being constructed by Helius Energy Plc, a London listed company, and on 8th September the Planning Committee were discussing an application for 'variation of consent.' This means that the developers (Helius) wanted to seek approval from the committee to extend the amount of material (biomass) that would reach the plant by the existing roads, rather than by the river and dockyard. The Planning Officer to the Bristol Planning Committee recommended that the consent be given to the developer, with some conditions attached to it, and ultimately the committee approved this 'variation of consent'.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Youth Panellists at 'Start Young: for a Sustainable Future' Event

Youth Panellist Tom Youngman (second from right) participating in a discussion led by fellow panellist and event facilitator Luke Hughes (obscured, left). (View original on Flickr)
Youth Panellist John Northall, one of the event's facilitators. (View original on Flickr)
IBM, in conjunction with Prince Charles' charity, 'Start', held the 'Start Summit' - a nine day program of events for leaders in business, finance and energy, as well for young people. The fifth day of the conference was entitled 'Start Young', and brought together ninety young people from across the country not only to hear from influential figures such as Stephen Leonard, Chairman of IBM UK and Ireland and James Caan, venture capitalist and star of the BBC's 'Dragon's Den', but to have their ideas listened to and raised in front of senior representatives from business and government on the final day of the summit. The event took place in luxurious surroundings at Lancaster House, twice the host of G7 summits and the location at which Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia)'s independence from the UK was agreed.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Panellists Visit Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynnleth

Our visit to the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) began with a tour of the popular visitor centre. It focuses mostly on home solutions - so micro-generation was a key theme.

We looked at examples of solar arrays and were told about how they could be used in commerce. They can be inequitable, because the feed-in tariff for a £15k panel is equivalent to £1,000 a year, so it is a better investment than a savings account. It benefits the rich, contributing to the wealth gap, because only they can afford the initial capital investment.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Trains, Visits and Reports...

If there’s one thing that I’d like to gain from my participation in the DECC Youth Panel, it would have to be, for me, a finer understanding of how to catch trains successfully. Apparently, the machine which gives me my train tickets in Newcastle Central Station has a fickle mind, changing its rules on a whim, resulting in my having to purchase TWO return fares from Newcastle to London (which aren’t cheap).

I’m very glad I got that off my chest. However, despite the fact it bankrupted me, it was, of course, more than worth it to revel in the fun-filled shenanigans that comprised the Youth Panel meeting.

We started by being introduced to the rather dubiously named ‘Spreadsheet of Happiness’, an outline of the exciting site visits that are planned for the panel. We figure that it’s pretty important that we know what we’re talking about when we write a report outlining the young person’s vision of 2050, and so we hope that if we visit projects around the country that are already implementing skills and techniques that could play a part in that vision, the knowledge that we gain from these glimpses of the future may help us draw more substantiated conclusions.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Visit to BedZED

Hi All
My name is Unkha and I am on the Oxfam Youth Board. Along with several others from the Panel (Rose, John and Kirsty) visited the eco-community in Sutton called BedZED, on 25 August 2010

Our visit to BedZED began with an introductory session with the Sustainability Consultant (Sam Smith) where he explained several key things about the community including the fact that it was built to create a community in which ordinary people could enjoy a high quality of life, while living within their fair share of the Earth’s resources. He went on to explain the project's One Planet Living’ principle which is the idea that if all the world lived like the average western European does we’d need three planets to support us. The project tries to tackle this issue by greatly reducing the consumption levels and energy use within the community for example an 81% reduction in energy use for heating by using ecologically friendly alternatives such as natural sunlight (by having the homes facing south and having a sun space), insulation (the walls of the homes are nearly 30cm thick) and thermal mass. There’s a 64% reduction in car mileage through the introduction of a comprehensive transport plan (good public transport links, a car sharing scheme, encouraging the use of electric cars with free charging and ample provisions for cyclists and pedestrians). The project also recycles 60% of its waste!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Coming up: Visit to CAT

- Tom Williams

The remit of the Youth Panel is to look at the challenges facing the country in meeting the 80% carbon reduction target by 2050, to encourage engagement in the 2050 Pathways project within the members’ organisations, to review the possible pathways, and to make recommendations to the department.

However to ensure the panel’s recommendations and discussions are as informed as possible, several visits have been organised to allow members access to various energy production sites around the country, to see the reality of the types of infrastructure that would have to be provided by the public or private sectors.

One of the very first of these is a visit to the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in North Wales, a place that attempts to offer solutions to some of the most serious challenges facing the planet and the human race, including climate change, pollution and the waste of precious resources.

We will be visiting CAT with our task in mind; to compile a group recommendation to the government detailing our preferred carbon reduction pathway to 2050. We will assess the options and explore new technologies that might be employed in this mammoth task, and we will have the chance to put in-depth questions to the experts in these technologies.

I will write another blogpost after the visit with news of what happens on the day and the information we acquire that we can pass on to the rest of the Youth Panel!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Energised to develop energy mix: the next meeting makes progress

Yesterday we had the second meeting of our formalised Youth Panel group! It was very exciting to begin to move forward with our plans for contributing to DECC's work on planning a suitable energy mix for 2050.

I'm Elizabeth - the UK Youth Climate Coalition's Government Liaison Officer. We kicked off by welcoming lots of exciting new people to the table (from Young Friends of the Earth, Scouts, British Youth Council, CPRE, BTCV, WWF and a Green Flag Eco-School), joining our existing panellists (UKYCC, NUS, Plan UK, People & Planet, Oxfam, UK Youth Parliament and Think 2050) - it is fantastic that Kirsty has arranged for us to have more people with us on our journey, which we know will prove to DECC the value of our group!

We were delighted that so many people had completed the survey in such a short space of time, and we looked through all the responses in depth. The findings were really interesting. When we go on our visits (more about that later) and consult with young people (and more about that later too) this will be really important to us so that we can plan our questions to allow us to establish the good and the bad of each type of energy (and there are a lot of types, seriously).

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Energy Pathways Survey

Thanks for following the DECC Youth Panel blog. You will have read by now that the Youth Panel is up and running and that we had the first meeting on Monday 5th of July.

The next meeting of the Panel will be on Wednesday 28th July and the Panel will be discussing what they want to see in the UK energy mix from now until 2050 (and beyond!) And what’s more, the brilliant Charles Hendry – Minister for Energy, is really supportive of the work we are doing and has asked us specifically to work hard at gathering as many different view points from the Youth community as we can. We want to show Charles how much young people are involved in the issue and really care about their futures, so…

…In order to gather the thoughts, views and opinions of the Youth community we have designed a fabulous survey for you all to fill out. The survey responses will then be collected by the Panel and discussed at the next meeting, where we will then construct our own ‘Energy Pathways’ using the information YOU give us!

The survey can be found here: Click here to take survey It will take no more than 10 minutes of your time, so please do share your thought! You have until TUESDAY 27th JULY 2010 to fill it out, so it would be awesome if you could really try and fill out the survey as soon as you read this!

Please do help the Youth Panel speak up for you in the Government department by filling out the survey. We want to be able to share the views of as many young people as possible so it is really important that you join in.

And when you have finished the survey please do share it with your friends on facebook, twitter or email and spread the word to help us bring the Youth voice to your Ministers and policy officials in the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Finally, if you have any questions about this survey or the Youth Panel in general, email us at: youthpanel@think2050.org and we will be in touch soon!

Thanks so much for all your support and we look forward to hearing from you!

From Kirsty, on behalf of the Youth Panel

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Established est. 1130am

Hello and welcome, one and all to our very first blog!
Its our very first as, today, we were told that we could drop the word pilot and just be DECC's Youth Advisory Panel! So first off, happy birthday and congratulations to us! As well as a big thank you to DECC!

Before I get any further I suppose I should introduce myself, I'm Rose and I am one of the panel members that has been involved from a time when a youth consultancy in DECC was just a gleam in one's eye, but not even 6 months later here we are, and i have to admit, its a very impressive day to have been part of.

I cannot tell you how many hours in offices or online have been spent discussing, finalising, drafting..planning, but we are here now, which is all that really matters! Aside from me, there are roughly 15 or so of us around the table, representing all sorts from all over, and we hope to be about 25 by the end of the month..Today we kicked off with a short discussion of how the panel would look for the next few months and also the description of a 'youth liaison officer' with regards to what that actually means!

We discovered that the Panel would be effectively a group of young people representing ourselves as young people, a member of the local community and a member of our respective organisation and then consulting with DECC as well a DECC consulting with us. We also managed to establish what a 'youth liaison officer' actually was, which turns out to be our fantastic facilitator Kirsty, who does a wonderful job at organising us as well as organising DECC as far as coming together at the same time and in the same room is concerned, no mean task most of us can tell you!

Now as this beautifully formed and united group of young people representing ourselves et. al we took a bit of time to actually consult on 'the calculator' which was a seriously neat bit of kit [we devised, after a bit of oohing and ahhing which will allow the user to create 'a path to 2050' with there own preferences to whether it is better to ban light bulbs or to make light bulbs as energy efficient as is humanly possible. The path to 2050, as you may like to know is our current focus, meaning that for the foreseeable future [until December] our work will be around this route, what i means to you, us and everyone else, and making sure DECC knows what you think it looks like..

[The road to 2050, by the way, is the idea of how we will all reach the 80% reduction of emissions by...[you got it..]..2050.., more info can be found here]

Our next session focused around our guiding principles as a group and what this would mean for anything we did, in particular 'the report' spelled as such as I am not yet sure what else to call it, 'the report' is as the name suggests, a report on the path to 2050, a document we'll create to present to DECC to show-case your views, however we'll also be doing it in a less papery, readingy type way because, if we're honest, no-one needs another document to read.., 'the report' despite the fact I don't have a name for it was the focus for the rest of our day, which delightfully was spent out side sat on the grass in amongst a park, rattled every few moments by London's building work - a much more glorious a place to talk about saving the planet than an office, no matter how many stereotypes it fills.. even if i do say so myself -[anyway]. It is proposed that we, over the coming months, will under take a series of tasks, much like the 12 labours of Hercules, but far more enjoyable; in groups of three or so, we will visit coal and nuclear power stations, wind farms and cow farms, the good, the bad and the ugly as well as the just plain crazy, with open arms and informed minds...we will visit, learn and share, also talking to the local communities around each site we visit to form a justified, reliable and honest opinion of whichever site we see.

Our second task is that of consulting as many young people as is physically possible, a task seeing us to freshers fares and school assemblies as well as CAT meetings and residentials a like, gathering opinions, sharing knowledge and accumulating the various visions of our road to 2050. By the end of our pilgrimage we hope to have contacted with thousands, if not, dare i say it, millions of young people, as well as local communities [both here and abroad] so that we, as a collective can form a report which can be released informing one and all of our..and your, work with the hope that we have influenced thousands into action, in the war on energy but have also given clear direction and advice on what we, the people [yes I'll paint a red hand on my face soon] want the government to do, i may note now we are also hoping for a formal reply from DECC...however before i go right off into a dream world, I'll talk about how we finished our day and what we want you to do!

We finished our day, surprisingly enough, by doing a similar thing to what I'm doing now, as we we're joined by Charles Hendry who is Minister of State for Energy which was a wonderful session to finish with as he seemed to be brimming with confidence in us as well as an unbeatable enthusiasm, which, as you can imagine, left us on a high!

After a bit of tea, coffee and water melon, we decided the date for our next meeting, which shall be at the end of July, so until then we will be toiling away online, perhaps we will even see you inbetween! But if not, look out for our next blog and have a fantabulous morning, and please, any comments thoughts suggestions or pictures you would like to pass onto us, we will accept them any time, just post them here!

Much green and eco love..

Rose x