By Alan Fogarty
I have been to many Sustainability conferences, award ceremonies and events where the residual impression has been invariably what’s sustainable about that. Frequently the conferences are self-congratulatory as if the issues of Climate Change have been resolves because a company have reduced their carbon emissions by 30% or are recycling 80% of their waste.
Not so with the Bioregional Conference which was thought provoking as well as entertaining. The clear statement that we have done nothing to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and that in fact they are still increasing, was both refreshing while being alarming. The suggestion that we have a period of 20-30 years before the potentially disastrous 2oC threshold is breached left me with an urgent sense of ‘I must do something about this’. A clear theme for the day was personal responsibility and the need for behavioural change. The problem will not go away on its own and with expanding populations and developing nations improving their living standards through consumption, it is not sufficient for developed countries to assume that what we are doing is enough. We need to be less than the ‘one planet’ consumption level if the rest of the world is to be given some chance to catch up.
There is a general complacency and self-deception in relation to carbon emissions. For example the zero carbon building label is dishonest and suggests that the problem is almost solved while we are not even close. The Green Deal attempts to get people to insulate their houses, replace their boilers etc. This is unlikely to generate much in the way of carbon savings as people will run their houses at a higher temperature and go around in t-shirts. A possible solution of changing the basis of taxation was suggested in the Conference, from labour to resource consumption. This could mean the removal of tax on salaries by increasing the cost of energy and fuel tenfold. This was interesting as it was dealing directly with the problem by incentivising people directly to leave their cars at home or turn their heating down.
It was good to know that politicians are being challenged to develop real strategies for change and to face up to the reality that radial change is required to counter this world wide challenge.
(c) Image provided by Bioregional
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