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Green Economy Council: a call to action, or paralysis by analysis?
16th February 2011
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Today, the Government’s new Green Economy Council meets, with a brief to look at how government and business can work together to “rise to the low-carbon challenge”. I don’t know whether to cheer or weep.

Over the past decade, there have been no fewer than ten official government Reviews, Councils and Taskforces into the green economy or sustainable production and consumption. I’ve listed them at the end of this post. The Green Economy Council is, at a pretty conservative reckoning, number eleven. That’s one a year, not even counting the reviews of energy and climate change policy, including the » Continue Reading.

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Where next for sustainable development?
8th February 2011
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The Sustainable Development Commission has been quangoed. Its functions will be absorbed into government at the end of March this year. We’re gathering friends and colleagues at a Big Sustainability Summit on 1 March, to plot the way ahead for sustainable development after the SDC, in partnership with our good friends at Futerra. And we’ve just set up the Big Sustainability website for blogging and discussion – please join us. I’ve posted a rather nostalgic, personal account of six years of the SDC – you can read it here.

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The murky world of maggots and stuff
20th January 2011
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My friend Julie Hill is a class act. She turned up for the launch of her brilliant book The Secret Life of Stuff in a glamorous green and black geometric print dress –  from her local Barnado’s. The shoes were a charity shop find, too. And the most memorable passage in her very readable book is when she’s hosing out her mum’s wheelie bin, getting rid of the maggots who have been profiting from the confusing collection schedule. As you’ll have guessed, Julie knows a lot about waste, and how to avoid it. Her book is everything you don’t really » Continue Reading.

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After the mince pies have gone: what I’m up to in 2011
6th January 2011
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The last mince pie has been scoffed, and I’ve hovered up all the needles from the Christmas tree. Time for work. This is what I’m up to in 2011:

It’s the last couple of months in the life of the Sustainable Development Commission, following the government’s quango bonfire. We’re planning a session in March to make sure that others can take forward our work, and keep government on its toes. More soon.

For Green Alliance, I’m part of a team working flat out on the next phase of our Climate Leadership Programme for MPs. Over forty MPs have already » Continue Reading.

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Retrofit Cumbria: Low-carbon solutions for existing buildings
17th December 2010
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I’ve been asked to spread the word about a Cumbria event in January offering top tips for carbon savings in existing buildings. It’s aimed at businesses, social landlords & others whose New Year’s resolution is to make their buildings cosy and low-carbon.

Lots of practical demonstrations and stuff to look at. It’s free, thanks to support from the Lake District National Park, Envirolink and others.

Details here.

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The ‘green energy revolution’ – what hope for the revolting peasants?
16th December 2010
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We’re hearing a lot about the ‘green energy revolution’. Politicians love the phrase (here’s a good example.)  Four years ago, when I published this report, Grid 2.0, community energy was a rare and exotic pursuit. Now, it seems that every community worth its salt is investigating ways to grown their own power. Revolutionary stirrings are in the air.

But community energy is still not an easy thing to do. I’ve seen plenty of schemes founder, because of problems with permitting, planning, finance, land ownership and lack of specialist expertise. Feed-in Tariffs mean that many renewables schemes can now » Continue Reading.

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drinking beer, saving carbon
15th November 2010
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How much carbon does the Lake District produce? And what difference would it make if we only drank local beer? The answer is here, in Mike Berners-Lee’s fascinating report setting out the carbon footprint of the National Park. We’ll use the work to develop a carbon budget for the area, setting year-on-year reductions and finding ways to meet them. I’ll report back.

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should seventeen-year-olds feel guilty about flying?
4th November 2010
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I do very few talks for schools or undergraduates – maybe two or three a year. But I really enjoy them. This morning, I ran a workshop for sixth formers, as part of a conference for secondary schools organised by some amazing volunteers from the local branch of the World Development Movement.

I got the students drawing up carbon budgets for a local area, and they did a brilliant job of working out where carbon savings could come from. I’m always impressed by how much schoolchildren know about climate change. Much more than most adults. I think that it is » Continue Reading.

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Talking to a Brick Wall
20th October 2010
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I’ve just read, in only a couple of sittings, the new book by pollster Deborah Mattinson, Talking to a Brick Wall. A fascinating and readable account of New Labour’s rise and fall, seen through the eyes of swing voters in focus groups.

Mattinson was there when all the big decisions were made, and the book is a gratifyingly intimate portrayal of the Blair-Brown-Mandelson psychodrama. More importantly, though, it’s an all-too-rare insight into the minds of Middle Englanders.

The book has really made me think about how we talk to people about climate change and environment, and the link to politics. » Continue Reading.

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A carbon budget for the Lake District National Park
15th October 2010
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This week, we met to discuss the idea of setting a carbon budget for the Lake District National Park. Helped by Mike Berners Lee, author of the fabulous How Bad Are Bananas, we have worked out how much carbon the Lake District needs to take responsibility for – and we’re working on how we can reduce emissions, tonne by tonne, year by year. I’ll publish Mike’s report here shortly.