COP26-world leaders gather in Glasgow

COP26-world leaders gather in Glasgow

Recently you may have been seeing more and more in the news and online about COP26 – but what is it? And why is it so important? This piece will help breakdown the origins, goals, and significance of COP26 and help you get up to date with one of the most significant events in the global calendar this year.

What is COP26? 

COP stands for Conference of the Parties, and this year will be the 26th COP to go ahead since the first held in Berlin, 1995. The Parties which take part in the conference are the 197 countries which have ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which came into force in 1994. The ultimate objective of the Convention is to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at a level which will not damage the climate or environment. Every year the Parties meet to review the implementation of previously agreed actions of the Convention and to look at the progress that has been made towards reaching its ultimate objective.

The key goals to be focused on at COP26 includes securing global net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and keeping the goal of a maximum of 1.5 degrees of global warming within reach; working to protect communities and natural habitats through empowering and encouraging affected countries to take action and finally, mobilizing finance from developed countries to meet the previously agreed target of raising $100bn a year in climate finance.



The Conference of the Parties is held every year, apart from in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year the Conference will begin on the 31st of October with the opening of negotiations and ends on the 12th of November with the closure of negotiations. Each day the delegates will discuss topics from energy to gender and transport to nature. View the full programme for COP26 here, and view events scheduled for the run up to COP26 here.



The Conference of the Parties is usually held in Bonn, Germany, unless one of the Parties offers to host the event. COP26 will be held in Glasgow this year, at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC). The facilities will be carbon neutral and the Conference will have sustainability at its core, ensuring the use of responsible resources and supply chain, as well as actively managing potential impacts on the environment and local communities.



But why is this Conference so important? There are two main reasons why COP26 will be such as significant Conference. Firstly, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, governments are faced with a unique opportunity to rebuild their economies in more sustainable and environmentally friendly ways. As well as this, the global pandemic demonstrated how essential it is for nations to cooperate and work together on world issues and many are hoping this realisation will extend to the climate change crisis.

Secondly, COP26 is the first chance for nations to review the commitments they made back in 2015 as part of the landmark Paris Agreement, the first legally binding global climate change agreement. This Conference is being viewed as the summit to push for nations to commit to more significant targets as well as to commit to more concrete plans to reach what was agreed upon within the Paris Agreement.

To find out more about COP26 visit:

What does Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone mean for old-car drivers

What does Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone mean for old-car drivers

Two months ago, on the 1st of June, the Birmingham became the third city in the UK to adopt a Clean Air Zone (CAZ), in an effort to control pollution in its city centre. This means that owners of older cars will have to pay £8-a-day to enter Birmingham.

In an article by Metro, it has been reported that, according to the AA, the city council-backed Birmingham Clean Air Zone (CAZ) will affect 100,000 vehicle-owners, in particular young drivers and lower income citizens.

The Birmingham City Council have argued that nearly 1000 people suffer pre mature deaths due to cancers, lung and heart diseases, as a result of high air pollution, thus highlighting that the reduction of emissions is not only an environmental approach, but an effort to improve public health. The decision has been also supported by the governmental, noting that Birmingham is experiencing high levels of air pollution and NO2.

The Clean Air Zone will be applied and operate daily on all roads within the A38 and its tunnels, the A4540 Middleway Ring Road, except Ring Road itself. Over 300 signs and panels have been placed to notify drivers when they are approaching the CAZ.

Upon enetering the CAZ, vehicles will be scanned by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to identify those that do not meet the emission standards. Cars, Taxis and LGVs will have to pay £8 daily, whereas Coaches, Buses and HGVs will have to cover £50 daily, where a day is calculated from midnight to midnight and they can pay 6 days in advance and 6 days afterward online or over the phone.

A fine of £120 will be applied to drivers that do not pay the CAZ fee, however, the fine can be reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.

There are also some cars that are exempt from charges, depending on their emission standard.

Road diversion in Birmingham CAZ

In an interview with LBC Birmingham Councillor Waseem Zaffar has clarified that:

“There’s a two year exemption if you live in the clean air zone, there’s a one year exemption if you work in the clean air zone and earn less than £30,000. Anyone who comes into be vaccinated won’t be charged and the same for anyone coming into the Children’s Hospital.”

He also added that:

“[…] the old can live safely and longer in our city, the young can grow up healthy and fitter because they’re growing up in a city which is not blighted by health equalities but is blighted where we’ve not got clean air which is a fundamental human right”.

Regional economist Dr Steven McCabe has predicted that many people would still struggle to pay the new tax even with the exemptions.

‘Though exemptions are possible, anything making life more financially challenging to Birmingham’s poorest citizens is unwelcome, ‘ he said.

CAZ, however, does offer exemption permits for in-zone residents and it also involves a £10 million scheme that aims at offering £2,000 grants in support of people that work in the CAZ but earn less than £30,000 per year.

Simple tips to reduce your energy consumption at home

Simple tips to reduce your energy consumption at home

The sun is shining and summer is in full swing! Many of us will be enjoying a barbeque with a couple of close friends and family at this time of year. Cooking and entertaining means consuming energy; but follow some simple tips and you can reduce your energy consumption and save you a money at the same time.

It’s always good to not overcook your food too much when using bottled gas heating for your barbeque. This can result in excess charring which is bad for you and will mean more regular bottle replacements.

Grabbing an ice cream from the freezer is a guilty pleasure for most of us, but do check that your freezer isn’t too full or frosting up. If your freezer temperature is set too low and is frequently frosting and icing up, it will be having to work a lot harder and will be costing you money, so do check your temperature settings and defrost your freezer thoroughly when necessary.

Washing dishes and glasses in a bowl when you clean up rather than constantly running water in the sink can save lots of water and heat from your hot water boiler. If you like the convenience of a dishwasher, then do make sure that it is filled right up and not put on with a half load. This way you get twice as much cleaning using the same amount of energy! 

Turning light switch off to save energy

The summer means long bright days – Remember to switch off your lights if don’t need them on and when your next lightbulb goes, try and make sure you replace it with an energy efficient replacement that is rated 7 watts or less and notice the reductions in your energy bills. If you have lots of electronic items on standby and don’t use them regularly then switch them off at the mains.

Turning TV off to save energy

It’s a long summer of sport…, tennis and of course the Olympics are all being played out on our TV’s. Whether you’re sitting back and relaxing, or fervently supporting your national team, do make sure you allow yourself a little natural ventilation by opening your windows. If you’ve recently taken your clothes  out of the washing machine then grab a clothes airer and dry outside, reducing the build-up of moisture and the potential for damp in your home. During a sporting break, grab yourself a hot drink but remember only fill your kettle just enough for what you need otherwise you’ll be paying over the odds.

Showering less to save energy

Rushing around in the morning doing the school run or getting into work, getting stressed as time is running away . By cutting the time you spend in the shower by just a minute or two each day you can create more time for yourself and lighten the load on your finances.

Energy Financial Support

Energy Financial Support

Households that are struggling with their energy use and costs should know that there is help and financial support available.

Across the United Kingdom, there are numerous sources of support to overcome fuel poverty or its related issues. If you would like to know more about what constitutes “fuel poverty”, a lookthrough our previous article “What is Fuel Poverty and how can it be alleviated?” might prove quite helpful.

Warm Home Discount Scheme

    The Warm Home Discount Scheme (WHD) is funded by the energy suppliers. It provides direct and indirect financial support to vulnerable energy consumers.
    The WHD scheme separates eligible households into two groups – the ‘Core’ group and the ‘Broader’ group.

    Support under the Core Group is targeted at older, poorer pensioner households. A householder qualifies for the Core Group discount if on a specific day (to be confirmed) all of the following apply:

    • their supplier was part of the scheme.
    • their name (or their partner’s) was on the statement on a specified day in July.
    • they were getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (even if they get Savings Credit as well).
    • Discount is £140.

    Households who feel they may qualify for the WHD under their supplier’s Broader Group should submit an application directly to their supplier. Each company has its own set of qualifying conditions.

    A link to the individual suppliers’ websites and their qualifying criteria can be found at:

    Financial Assistance and grants available for those who suffer from Fuel Poverty

    Trusts and Grants

      Most of the energy suppliers offer a range of grants for their most vulnerable customers (subject to meeting certain criteria).

      • British Gas (British Gas Energy Trust) – Payments for household bills/ energy arrears.
      • EDF Energy (EDF Energy Customer Support Fund) – Payments for household bills/ energy arrears or essential appliances.
      • E.ON (Energy Fund) – Will provide payments for household bills/ energy arrears, essential appliances and repairs to or replacement boilers.
      • npower (Energy Fund) – Provides financial assistance to individuals and organisations.
      • SSE Priority Assistance Fund – supports those who in or at risk of fuel poverty. Website includes information on support services.
      • ScottishPower Hardship Fund – Provides help to customers having difficulty paying their bills due to low income. Electricity and gas arrears can be cleared or reduced by a credit from the fund to the customer’s account.
      • Let’s Talk Energy Fund – Open to everybody regardless of energy supplier. It offers debt relief, boilers and white goods.
      • Charis Grants – facilitates charitable and corporate giving by designing, developing and managing a range of services in support of vulnerable members of society. Website:
      • Priority Services Register (PSR) – The Priority Services Register is a free service provided by fuel suppliers and network operators for vulnerable customers. Each energy supplier and network operator maintains its own register and will need you to contact them directly. 

      12 Tips To Reduce Overall Energy Consumption

      12 Tips To Reduce Overall Energy Consumption

      Reducing energy consumption little by little can save you a lot of money each and every year.

      There are many tips and tricks that homeowners can use to conserve energy expenditure.

      When in the kitchen…

      • Boil the water using the kettle or by covering the pan with a lid – the water will boil faster, saving less time and energy.
      • You can turn the heat off earlier when boiling an egg and let the residual heat finish cooking the egg.
      • Plan ahead when thinking about cooking something that is frozen – give the frozen food enough time to defrost, otherwise you will have to consume energy using a microwave or an oven.
      • Warm the kitchen area with residual heat from the oven – once you have used the oven for cooking, you can keep the oven door oven to provide extra heat in the kitchen (be considerate of the pets and children!).
      • Have your fridge placed away from a heat source or direct sunlight and don’t keep your fridge colder that it would typically need to be. As a point of reference, your fridge should be set at 3°C, whilst your freezer should be set at -18°C
      • Remember to also defrost both the fridge and freezer quite regularly, as the more ice will build up, the harder the fridge and freezer will have to work, thus consuming more energy.
      Home Energy Smart meter in the kitchen measuring temperature

      Energy saving habits throughout your home

      • After washing clothes and other textiles, using natural outdoor drying methods can also save money and electricity on buying driers, using the washing machine to dry or relying on radiator heat.
      • Another great way to conserve energy is to turn down your thermostat. With only one degree lower can save you around £80 per year.
      • Take more showers and less baths. According to the Energy Saving Trust, if everyone in a family of 4 swapped one bath a week for a 5-minute shower, they’d would reduce electricity and gas costs by £20 per year.
      • Spend less time in the shower. With just one minute less under the shower each day could shave £7 per year off your bills3. In a 4 person household, that’s £28 per year.
      • If you have a garage, ensure doors are closed and insulated the entire time.
      • Keep curtains and blinds open during the day, to let in the warmth of the sun. Then close them at night, to keep the heat in and the cold out.

      Be in control of your heating to conserve energy

      Unknown to most, nearly two-thirds of the energy used in UK homes goes on heating – which accounts for half of our bills. By adding water and heating together, it rises to two-thirds of our average costs.

      Many households, for example, will run their heating systems not taking into account of each room’s temperature requirements. By using your heating contols efficiently, you could potentially save a lot of money. We tend to think of our heating bills in terms of fuel costs – but what we’re really paying for is heat loss.

      The lower the heat loss, the lower the energy use. In this aspect insulation and other heating saving methods, could be considered.