Reduce dependency on non-renewable energy sources over the coming decades, and focus on sustainable development.
Burning fossil fuels could be impacting upon global climate and is not sustainable because the resources are finite- and if they become scarce we risk facing economic depressions and potentially even wars over the remaining resources. In addition it causes many problems through pollution.
We cannot afford to just let the free markets dictate matters because chances are they will focus on short-term profits and not shift to cleaner sources until it will maximise profits, which will in turn slow the rate of progress and potentially make the downturn, when we are physically forced to cut down on energy use, more severe. However, forcing draconian cuts to energy use, too much too quickly, may risk triggering a similar kind of recession. Long-term management is key so as to reduce the long-term impacts of the transition towards more sustainable living.
If climate change becomes serious, adaptation will be needed as well as mitigation.
Solutions must include both adaptation and mitigation. Using only adaptation is trying to find a cure to the problem rather than the prevention, and is unlikely to be sustainable- especially if anthropogenic climate change is as bad as many scientists suspect. On the other hand, it will be foolish not to adapt to changes in climate.
Move towards more small scale local energy generation schemes.
National energy schemes can be very wasteful- e.g. the inefficiency caused by transporting electricity large distances to the homes that are being served. In addition, there are other issues when implementing large scale renewable energy projects, for instance large windfarm projects can cause destruction of habitats and lower the asthetic quality of an area.
Small scale, but numerous, alternative energy generation schemes are more likely to be efficient, and less of an eyesore, as they involve transporting electricity shorter distances and there is less of a need to create large farms for them. For example, solar panels, geothermal plants (digging holes and using ground heat sink pumps) and energy derived from locally generated wind and tide power.
However, in developing renewable energy we need to make sure that generating the renewable energy doesn't cause as much pollution as the use of fossil fuels does.
Inefficient energy use should be phased out as much as possible, wherever possible
Traditionally, homes are not very energy-efficient. Existing homes should be revamped to make them more energy efficient, storing heat as efficiently as possible. Recycling schemes should continue to be introduced widely, but we also need to work on reducing the emissions impact of the recycling itself (it's no good recycling everything if the recycled material is carried from the UK to China and back again via plane). Again, numerous local schemes may be the answer- providing recycling locally. Initiatives such as energy-saving light bulbs, and downward-projected streetlights, will also help to reduce waste.
Workplaces also often have inefficient energy practices, including extremely inefficient use of heating and air conditioning- again these must be addressed.
The Government and associated authorities need to apply “carrot and stick” measures to encourage organisations and people to follow these policies. This can include tax incentivising as well as providing physical limits on energy use. Similarly, private companies should encourage and promote such initiatives- and be punished by the government if they do not.
Stop the free markets and governments wasting time and energy for economic reasons.
One popular policy among product designers is to design them deliberately with a limited lifespan, so as to make consumers purchase repairs and/or new products more regularly, therefore maximising profit margins (a classic case of where relying solely upon the free market system to solve inefficiency doesn't quite work!)
It might increrase profit margins, but it also increases consumption of finite resources, costs time, and reduces sense of well-being and consumer confidence in products. Yes, cutting out this practice might necessitate higher prices to keep profit margins reasonable, but most people will pay more for their products if they can expect them to last for several years rather than several months.
Allow developing countries to develop, but encourage them to use sustainable development practices instead of going through the same phases of inefficiency as the developed countries.
We cannot afford to not let developing countries develop, both for reasons of global welfare (by restricting developing countries we are leaving large sectors of the world in poverty) and also to help restrict population growth. Sex education, contraception, and measures to reduce discrimination and rigid sex roles, allowing women to have careers etc, will also help reduce population growth.
Aim for brownfield rather than greenfield development.
Address the UK north-south divide by helping to give northern areas the same opportunities as the southeast, renovating derelict areas.
The UK is a densely populated and urbanised country, particularly in the South East. Although demand for housing is increasing as a result of there being fewer people per household, there are nonetheless large areas, particularly in the North, that contain mass deriliction.
This is a classic case where it's important to consider more than the economics aspect of well-being. Economics dictates that we should build on greenfield sites in the South East because it's where the greatest demand is, and the optimal policy for maximising short-term economic growth. However, in the long term this will backfire, creating overpopulation in the South East, loss of what little countryside remains in the region (leading to social deprivation and decline of well-being), transport systems will be overcrowded, and the North will become more and more derilict.
In the UK, development should thus be concentrated on brownfield sites in the North. The Government needs to apply the carrot and stick type incentivising to the markets to encourage such changes. Renovation of poor areas in the North, movement of constructive work opportunities up to the North to help towards those outside of the south-east region maintaining a decent quality of life and equality of opportunity. And we need to stop building on flood plains.
When building new houses, construct houses to provide a pleasant environment for all, rather than bunging a load of low quality housing to maximise profit.
New housing developments should be constructed to provide a pleasant environment for all. It may be cheaper in the short term to bung low quality housing and be done with, but in the long term, people will be less happy with the local area, developers may have to spend further money redeveloping the area, and social and environmental problems are more likely to occur. Providing a pleasant environment for all is a more sustainable approach.
This does not mean building houses that are very expensive to construct, demanding high house prices and therefore making them a haven for the rich. I am thinking more of the architectural layout of the area, and providing facilities for residents and making it comparitively appealing to look at, even if the houses themselves are relatively small/cheap.