Monday, 25 September 2006

An Inconvient Truth comes to Nottingham

Nottingham's art-house cinema, Broadway, screened An Inconvenient Truth on Friday evening preceding a panel debate on climate change. The film, I thought, was a polished communications project from a man who has spent much of his career speaking in public arenas. But what Al Gore had to say was inspiring, thought-provoking, and perhaps for the first time, accessible to a wider audience. He has the passion for life that GWB dismisses and goes to great lengths to crush.

Essentially politics has let us down. Politics in the sense that whilst scientists have discovered, politicians have denied, challenged, ignored and suppressed. In all this time glaciers have fallen into the sea, lands have been flooded and people have starved.

And the climate change debate on a micro scale in Nottingham reflected people's frustrations. Why if global warming has been recognised for so many years do the local authorities continue to advocate unsustainable construction, widening of motorways and incineration facilities?

There are very passionate and concerned people in Nottingham and indeed throughout the UK but they are rarely offered an opportunity to voice their views on what happens in our country. And the sad truth is that the majority of the audience at the Broadway on Friday is striving to make changes in their lives to tackle the impact of climate change, but ultimately realises that unless the majority of the population change their behaviour and consumption habits, we can’t make the differences that we strive for. I guess this is where we look up to the authorities to tell us how they will change things and how they will communicate to those who are unaware of the situation. And I genuinely believe that people just don’t realise what is going on, or at least how to change their behaviour. And from some of the responses on the panel, I don’t even think they really knew either! One panelist even dropped in the importance of globalisation in the response to the widening of the M1! Suddenly the scales appeared before our very eyes: the planet in one, and gold bars in the other!

The event was a great opportunity to find out how people felt about the challenges of climate change and also a rare chance to present these to the powers that be. However, there was also a certain element of preaching to the converted. We were told by one panel member that each of us is responsible for changing our habits and that it wasn't just the responsibility of the authorities. Wise words apart from the fact that the audience already is adapting their lives to fight climate change.

Nottingham wants to be a leading city in tackling climate change - and we have our very own Al Gore in the form of Alan Simpson, Labour MP who introduced the movie on Friday. Al Simpson, I know is genuinely dedicated to this cause and I know because I have seen his eco-home during architecture week. May be Alan Simpson can speak some sense to these local authority leaders who claim to possess political will, but can't seem to translate this into political action.

Anyway, it was great to see passions run high and people saying what they think, as this so rarely happens. (Hooray for the wind turbine guy at the front!!).

As I write, it has emerged that 20 environmental activists have broken onto the tarmac at Nottingham East Midlands Airport in protest against aviation fuelled climate change. It seems that the debate is hotting up...

Sunday, 24 September 2006

Will new air travel restrictions keep travellers closer to home?

This question was posed by Synovate Research as a result of a survey carried out in response to recent restrictions on air travel and the chaos caused at airports. 40% of respondents from the UK concluded that air travel is much less appealing now than ever due to inconveniences caused by tighter security restrictions as well as the threat of terror itself.

Having boarded my first flight at the age of 21 heading to Moscow with a number of university colleagues, the prospect of heading as far eastwards as I had ever done, was indeed appealing. This pre-empted the boom in cheap flights which soon put pay to the initial excitement of take off and landing. Air travel has become a commodity rather than part of a holiday and in some ways this essential part of the journey has become a written off, dismissed period of time. Get from A to B. Don't mention the T-word. Pack all sharp objects. Check. Drink that bottle of water BEFORE security. Check. The list goes on. No wonder the British public are beginning to shy away from air travel.

Let's take the opportunity to reduce our air miles and think about the consequences our short haul flights are having on the environment. Let's go slow. Let's look at the options.

Get to Europe by Eurostar and enlist the help of to find details of onward trains. Sail to St Malo, Bilbao or Brest and see the sun rise over the Channel whilst inhaling the early morning breeze. Be the first passenger to leave the ferry triumphantly by bicycle.

There are so many options when you think about it.

Thursday, 14 September 2006

following the Future Footprints

Today I found out about the Future Footprints group based in the South West of England. Future Footprints, led by Lynn Gibbons is funded by Sustainability South West and was set up to promote sustainable tourism by embedding sustainability into the visitor experience. And this summer clearly has been a busy one for them.

With 80% of the South West's tourists arriving by car, the challenge is on to persuade travellers to swap the car for more sustainable forms of transport. And I'm told the possibilities are growing by the day. With a "Rail Ale Trail", what better excuse can you have for leaving the car behind and doing a pub crawl to end all pub crawls? Then there's the increasing network of cycle paths and routes criss-crossing one of England's most visited regions. And save money at the same time. A number of attractions have incentivized sustainable transport by offering visitors arriving by people-powered or public transport a discounted entry.

Future Footprints has devised innovative ways of promoting its sustainable tourism products so keep an eye out when you're next in the west country.

Friday, 8 September 2006

can ecoescape be carbon neutral?

ecoescape promises to be carbon neutral. This is a task we have been researching for a while now and it is important that we get it right. Throughout ecoescape's existence, we will go to painstaking effort to reduce the CO2 emissions which are generated as a direct result of the project. We will track the emissions caused and also emissions saved. By the time the guide is launched in 2007, ecoescape aims to have offset the emissions generated and render the project carbon neutral. A carbon diary will be kept throughout the development of ecoescape to monitor this aspect. ecoescape is devising an offsetting plan and would welcome any innovative ideas for bringing us to zero.