Addressing Climate Change

                                       Addressing Climate Change

Some 12 years ago, I tried to pick up a pre-booked hire car in Phoenix, Arizona.  The plan was to drive up to the Grand Canyon.  After going through the ritual of being offered and rejecting six unnecessary insurances, I was shown to the car.

I did not know much about American cars so I just picked a modest four-cylinder saloon. This model had recentlly featured in a minor way in an episode of NYPD Blue so I fgured that it must be credible and reasonable.

It was something of a shock to be walked out to a very long V8 monster with just two huge doors. "Sir, without that power, you will not be able to use your aircon at 8,000 feet on your way to the canyon". What a lot of nonsense that was.  So I rejected the car and was eventually offered what I had ordered, albeit with the mandatory fuel consumption burden of automatic transmission.

We can all modify our behaviour and it is particularly important to remember this now. The UN Climate Change Conference will be held in Copenhagen between 7th and 18th December.  As a country we still have a long way to go.  Our economy is still dependent for more than 90 per cent of its energy on fossil fuels.

Measures to address this must include green renewable energy sources but also nuclear power to prevent supply outages while better solutions come on stream. While it might sound far-fetched today, I would like to think that some day we will accelerate radioactive half lives through the use of catalysts.

We need to set a strong national example or it becomes difficult to influence growing economies such as China and India. These countries can rightly point out that their emissions per capita are way below those in the West.  Attempts to lecture them from a position of strong hypocrisy could easily be counter-productive.  It is far better for the West to lead by modifying its own behaviour.

Convincing ourselves that we can make a difference is key. If none of us do anything, collectively we will do nothing.  With an opposite and positive ethos in place, Crawley Council has signed up to the 10:10 initiative where we will reduce our carbon emissions by 10 per cent in 2010.  We have already made significant reductions in our electricity, gas and water consumption but recognise that more can always be done.

Councillor Bob Lanzer, Leader of Crawley Borough Council

2nd December 2009