Vital issue...and we are playing our part

East Ham MP Steve Timms looks at the borough s changing recycling habits THE Danish capital of Copenhagen has just finished playing host to the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Over 15,000 delegates and officials, 5,000 journalists and 98 world

East Ham MP Steve Timms looks at the borough's changing recycling habits

THE Danish capital of Copenhagen has just finished playing host to the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Over 15,000 delegates and officials, 5,000 journalists and 98 world leaders were in attendance - together with appearances by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Prince Charles and a number of Hollywood A-listers. The scale is huge.

The Prime Minister set out ahead of the summit proposals for an agreement that is ambitious, effective, and fair. Nationally, we are taking steps to reduce emissions in order to combat climate change. The Climate Change Act commits the UK to ambitious emission reductions between now and 2050.

A report commissioned by the Local Government Chronicle found that Newham households produced, on average, 18.36 tonnes of CO2 a year - the lowest amount of any London Borough.

And - after a slow start compared to other areas - the amount of recycling in Newham is rising fast. In 2008, Newham residents recycled an average of 68.85 kg each year, compared to only 9.92 kg in 2000. The Council is now looking to make recycling easier. It is hoped that next year Newham residents will recycle 22 per cent of their household and garden waste.

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But it's not just households who are changing. Local businesses are too.

In 2007, Tate & Lyle announced that they would invest �20m in a new biomass boiler to generate heat and power for their Silvertown refinery. The boiler will cut the plant's carbon emissions from energy use by 70 per cent in less than two years.

Overall, it will reduce the carbon footprint of Tate & Lyle cane sugar, from the field to leaving the factory, by 25 per cent, to 0.32 tonnes per 1 tonne of sugar. In the long term, the refinery will become a net energy producer, possibly supplying its neighbours. Taking advantage of Government incentives, the new boiler will also dramatically cut the refinery's energy bill. The boiler is being tested now and is due to start operating early in the new year.

And in Beckton next year, a new the new �50m renewable power plant will be built on the old gasworks - near the road leading to Gallions Reach shopping centre.

The plant will be the first of its type in the world and will be fuelled by vegetable oil sourced from harvesting oil seed rape. It is estimate that by the end of 2011, it will be providing renewable electricity for some 45,000 homes in the borough.

The plant will also be pioneering the world's most efficient electrical generator. And the overall efficiency of the plant will be in excess of 90 per cent.

So, in Newham, households and businesses are playing their part in building a low-carbon future. We all need to play a part in a real effort to cut emissions.

If this is replicated across the UK and further afield, then it may not be too late to halt damaging climate change. That is why Copenhagen is so important.

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