Don't let Copenhagen failure stop our own commitments to reduce carbon footprint


I suppose the damp squib of Copenhagen cannot be too much of a surprise although it makes for some sombre pre-Christmas reflection.  If China as the world's largest carbon emitter and future superpower continues to behave like a spoiled child and thereby lets other nations off the hook, then the implications are severe for us all. Gordon Brown did well in my estimation, at least he tried - he seems to rise to the occasion at these big international summits in marked contrast to his lumbering cackhandedness at home.

But if we cannot rely on national governments to get a grip on the issue, that tells us even more that we must not sit back and drift at a personal level.  We need to grab and reshape our own versions of the future.  Transition St Albans is one way forward.  So is signing up to the 10:10 initiative - committing to do our best to reduce our own carbon footprint by ten percent in 2010. This latter is somewhat challenging on a personal basis.  I am already obsessed with turning off lights and appliances.  We've turned the thermostat down to 19 degrees in the public areas of our house and close the doors and switch off the rads in bedrooms not being used while our children are away at uni.  We don't use a tumble dryer and have few other gadgets though our collective computing power is admittedly rather energy hungry. My car is reasonably economical - a little diesel Peugeot 206.  When four of us drove home from Italy a couple of years ago, we only need 100 euros of fuel to complete the journey.

But getting round a constituency which stretches from the Grand Union Canal in the west to the A1(M) in the east does rack up the mileage. As a family we have almost stopped flying.  We did nip over the Berlin to see son Edward a couple of weeks ago and that was our first flight for four years.  I felt rather guilty about it, we did the carbon offset calculation (just over half a tonne for three travellers), and chose to support the Woodland Trust and their appeal for the new Heartwood Forest at Sandridge since that seemed reasonably close to home! We went to the farmers' market this morning and our own allotment provides much of our vegetables throughout the year.  Every little does and will count. On a recent Any Questions the panel were asked what was the chief moral issue of our age.  They went down the road of social justice - and certainly the lack of equality of opportunity in this country is very disturbing.  But surely the big moral issue is that we are borrowing this planet from our children and grandchildren - do we believe we are returning it to them in as good a condition as we received it?


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