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Earth Day 2024: 22nd April: looking to rural net-zero

  • by JW

“Rural areas, rich in natural resources, have significant potential for renewable energy production and green job creation.” [Rural Services Network]


Yesterday was Earth Day – with a fair amount of good news coming out of the Day.

We have to be realistic, however, and yesterday the Rural Services Network called for Action on Earth Day, Advocating for Net Zero in Rural Areas:

As Earth Day inspires global action for environmental sustainability, the Rural Services Network (RSN) calls for a comprehensive approach to achieving net zero in rural areas. Representing 40% of England’s constituencies, rural regions are pivotal in combating climate change and promoting green growth. The RSN’s “Winning the Rural Vote” campaign outlines specific policy asks, urging all political parties to prioritize rural areas in the journey toward a sustainable future.

Key Challenges and Opportunities: Rural areas, rich in natural resources, have significant potential for renewable energy production and green job creation. However, they face unique challenges in energy infrastructure, transportation, and fuel poverty. The RSN emphasises the need to upgrade rural energy infrastructure to support the growing demand from electric vehicles and heat pumps, while ensuring that the expansion of renewable energy sources benefits local communities to avoid resistance.

Yesterday, the RSN also looked at Energy Efficiency in Rural Areas: Challenges and Insights on Insulation Schemes:

The Great British Housing Insulation Scheme, launched in March last year, aimed to reduce energy costs and improve energy efficiency in homes across England, Scotland, and Wales. Given the significant energy bills in rural areas, this scheme promised a much-needed relief to many households. However, figures released last week by the Department for Energy and Net Zero indicate that only 4,648 households have benefited from the scheme, which is far below the target of 300,000 households by March 2026.

And in a further look at how communities can become more resilient, yesterday the RSN considered Community Ownership: Empowering Rural Communities in England

Plunkett UK, a charity supporting community ownership across the UK, has released its 2024 Impact Report, highlighting the transformative effect of community-owned businesses in rural areas. In this article, the Rural Services Network focuses on the impact of these businesses in rural communities in England.