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Working with Smart Energy GB for a low-carbon future

Stickle Ghyll hydro-electric turbine at Sticklebarn and the Langdales, Cumbria
Stickle Ghyll uses fast flowing water that falls down the hills in the Langdale Valley to power a nearby pub | © National Trust Images/Michael Hirst

Whether we're capturing the energy of mountain streams or installing solar panels and smart meters in historic houses, we're always working hard to use less energy. Find out how we are working with Smart Energy GM, the campaign for a smarter Britain, to show how nature can thrive if we embrace a low-carbon future.

A glimpse at the future climate

In autumn 2021, our partner, tasked with getting people to understand the benefits of smart meters and how they can save energy, took an augmented reality installation to six National Trust places to show what the natural world could be like in 30 years’ time.

The installation opened up a time portal to the year 2050 to see what could happen to the places we love if we don’t take action to reduce energy usage and experience how nature could thrive in a low-carbon future. This installation simulated environmental conditions to show what climate change might feel like, with ambassadors from the campaign for a smarter Britain on hand to answer questions.

A view of ash dieback from a drone, showing several fallen trees
A view of ash dieback from a drone at Haresfield Beacon, Gloucestershire | © National Trust Images/Mike Calnan

"Climate change is not some time in the future. It's happening here and now, affecting the special places we care for."

- Keith Jones, Climate Change Advisor, National Trust

The biggest single threat

Our Climate Change Advisor, Keith Jones said it's the 'single biggest threat' we face as a conservation charity.

‘Climate change is not some time in the future. It's happening here and now, affecting the special places we care for. We've seen overheating at some National Trust places in the South East, pests and diseases harming ash trees, and landslides and flooding at many sites,' he added.

Smart changes to make a difference

We're working in a number of ways to cut carbon emissions and reduce the impact that climate change is having on the countryside. We're making the places we care for as energy efficient as possible, expanding our network of electric vehicle charging points, protecting woodlands, restoring precious wildlife habitats and making sure our rivers continue to flow.

It's easy to feel helpless in the face of climate change, but by taking small steps, such as installing a smart meter, we can make a meaningful difference together. They can’t solve climate change on their own, but with the smarter, more efficient energy they create, they’re a start. It's much easier to be more energy efficient if you know how much energy you're using. This is why we're using hundreds of smart meters at the places we care for to measure how much energy is used at different times of day.

Solar panel installation at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire
Solar panel installation at Anglesey Abbey | © National Trust Images/Linda Goudie

Our work with the campaign for a smarter Britain

Smart Energy GB is the campaign for a smarter Britain. Its task is to support a national roll-out of smart meters across 26 million homes and ensure people understand the benefits of smart meters and how to be cleaner and greener with their energy use. This makes them the perfect partner to help us achieve our energy reduction targets and tackle the effects of climate change, so the places we care for can be enjoyed by future generations.

We initially committed to reducing our energy use by 15% by 2021, compared to a 2009 baseline. We also committed to generating 50% of our energy needs from renewable sources. With the demand for electricity in Britain set to double by 2050, the same year that the government wants to cut carbon emissions, we all need to do our bit to save energy.

If our country is to meet the government's commitment to cut all carbon emissions by 2050, the outdated energy system needs to become much more responsive to fluctuating supply from sustainable sources like wind and sun.

A quote by Sacha DeshmukhCampaign for a Smarter Britain Chief Executive

This partnership allows us to invest in even more renewable energy projects at National Trust places.

Ranger removing debris from the hydro at Watendlath, Cumbria

Tackling climate change

Uncover how we’re responding to the changing climate at places in our care.

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Working towards a green recovery 

With support from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund, we're looking for ways to protect our environment and combat climate change. Find out more about the work we're doing.

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How we're tackling climate change 

Climate change is the single biggest threat to the places we care for. Take a look at our environmental pledges as we adapt, reduce carbon emissions and address the damage already done.

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How you can help tackle climate change 

Play your part by learning how to reduce your carbon footprint and reducing plastic waste. Plus, find out how to join the Great Big Green Week campaign.

Solar panel installation at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire

Solar power at our places 

Discover how some of the special places in our care are harnessing the power of the sun to generate electricity and reduce their carbon footprints.

Checking the biomass boiler at Chirk Castle, Wrexham, Wales

Biomass energy at our places 

Discover how biomass boilers are being used by some of the special places in our care to provide heat and hot water whilst also reducing their carbon footprint.

Close-up of geo-thermal heat pumps in a plant room at Brancaster Millennium Activity Centre in Norfolk

Heat-pump energy at our places 

Using heat pumps to provide greener energy at the places in our care, from castle gardens to historic mansions, is helping to reduce our carbon footprint.

Stickle Ghyll hydro-electric turbine at Sticklebarn and the Langdales, Cumbria

Hydroelectric power at our places 

Discover which of the places in our care generate their own hydroelectricity, from a 19th-century 'smart home' in Northumberland to a state-of-the-art water turbine in scenic Snowdonia.

Ranger in National Trust fleece inspecting white blossom on tree in orchard

Our cause 

We believe that nature, beauty and history are for everyone. That’s why we’re supporting wildlife, protecting historic sites and more. Find out about our work.