WEM Avoiding the eco-town trap Inside: NICK REEVES ON ECO-TOWNS GREEN CARS ENVIRONMENTAL MIGRATION CHANGING FACE OF THE HIMALAYAS
The Environment Magazine October 2008 Volume 13 Number 9
Winner of “Quality of Life” category: Abhijit Nandi,
Happy in Her Own World
pher of the Year: onmental Photogra The Young Envir Art or m alis Vand Jakob Aungiers,
Winner of “Natural World” category: Sandesh Kadur
Peafowl at Dawn
THE ENVIRONMENTAL PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR 2008
EXHIBITION 17TH SEPTEMBER TO 10TH OCTOBER 2008 10AM – 6PM
The Art Pavilion, Mile End Park, Clinton Road London E3 4QX www.towerhamlets.gov.uk
PRIVATE VIEW 17TH SEPTEMBER FROM 6.30PM
CONTENTS WEM Sample 2009
Planet Politics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Can Games Be Green? . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Technology Race . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Let's Hear About A Vision Of Britain 14
As A Low Carbon Society . . . . . . . . . .
We’re Diggin It . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Virtual Water . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mailbox . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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WEM Sample 2009 1
PLANET POLITICS In the first of a series of excerpts from his book Too Little, Too Late: The Politics of Climate Change, Colin Challen* asks whether our political systems are equipped to tackle the threat of a changing climate.
So when the reality of our impotence dawns, would any politician dare order genuinely painful and real sacrifices for no certain benefit? Would the millions of ‘super-rich’ give up their yachts, mansions, super-cars and hugely destructive lifestyles? Would politicians sacrifice their pensions and live modestly? Would ordinary consumers even stop eating meat and coveting luxury? Would most of them even bother to wear winter clothes indoors in wintertime? Dr Stephen Wozniak (public interest campaigner) The quotation above is taken from an article called ‘Politicians Cannot Solve Climate Change (Even If They Tried).’ It presents the conundrum of the politics of climate change in a very stark light – a kind of damned if you do and damned if you don’t world where both trying and not trying are equally as bad. It’s like we have to change more than just the system which has created this problem, we have to recalibrate our very being, away from the perennially greedy, breeding species that we are. Wozniak compares our society to a pyramid sales system, which can only support the unsustainable demands of today by introducing a greater pool of resource we can dip into tomorrow. He likens it to the way that we pay our pensions, which needs an ever increasing workforce to keep the payments up, recession or no. Politicians seem to have little or no control over this and indeed their policies and those of financial institutions have perversely focused on short term returns whilst nominally promoting the idea that we should all live into ripe old age. If I shared the view (which has at least some obvious merit in the climate change
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context) that politicians are powerless to shape events or even come up with rational responses to events, then I think I must have wasted a good portion of my working life. But self renunciation is not a cure. Self analysis may be. Climate change means that politicians have to submit their long cherished beliefs to a challenging examination. Climate change is not about muddling through, as we have done in human conflicts past, or when social change happened by hit and miss. We can’t say ‘we’ll give this a go and if that doesn’t work we’ll try something else’ as if we had all the time in the world to correct our errors. The cumulative errors that we have already made call for a response which is unprecedented and has to be informed by an analysis which decisively breaks with the past. The ‘pay later’ culture of society has to stop. What if we had to live within our ecological and financial means today, and not borrow from the future? What if all our plans had to internalise that single thought? It would be a big step, but still not big enough. We have already borrowed too much from the future, we have to add a restorative element too. In Biblical terms (as an atheist I can nevertheless admire some of the Bible’s secular wisdom) we could take as a model of restoration that part of the otherwise detestable Leviticus where it speaks of allowing the land to lie fallow for one out of every seven years. We have a society which is losing the concept that it needs to rest. At the UN Bali climate change conference in 2007, the Indonesian Tourism and Culture Minister had the temerity to suggest that the world should be allowed to ‘rest’ for at least one day of the year, like a Day of Silence or the Hindu Nyepi. According to the Jakarta Post: ‘It is estimated that during Nyepi, when Balinese
Hindus refrain from conducting any activities and no motorised vehicles or flights are in operation, some 20,000 tonnes of emissions could be reduced.’ The Minister, Jero Wacik said: ‘By conducting the ritual, we . . . stop using electricity, motorised vehicles, air conditioners and factory machinery for at least one day’ but there was not a single response from foreign participants. Maybe we have to fight for this idea locally first. Perhaps Minister Wacik has not yet learnt that 24/7 production on a ‘just in time’ basis is our creed, and it allows no time for reflection as is so obvious in the way that our 24/7 media presents politics. So whilst countless political leaders have now said that we must radically change the way we do things, in the political domain it remains largely business as usual. Do politicians see themselves as leaders of society or prisoners of society? It should be a choice, not a dilemma. It must be one of the strangest characteristics of political life that in order to be successful one must on the one hand be a suitable subject for hero worship, but on the other hand be a humble servant of the people. The master/servant relationship usually cannot be combined in the same personality, but that’s what democracy expects. Indeed, in the way our haphazard democracy has developed, it’s precisely what it enables at least as a mirage, and the development of this mirage is one of the great conceits of our democracy. It would do no harm to remind ourselves again and again that ‘western democracy’ is still in an early and experimental stage of its development. What we now tend to consider to be a fully matured system with all its checks and
Continued on page 4
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Continued from page 2 balances has barely been around for as long as the lifetime of today’s oldest living person. The evidence we use to demonstrate the robustness of our inheritance – and therefore its assumed superiority – is of very recent origin. Most of us would probably cite the defeat of fascism in the Second World War as a great if not the greatest triumph of democracy, and the first real proof of its strength. This assessment is often tied to an analysis which heralds the Americans’ involvement in the war as the defining turning point and necessarily has little regard to the contribution made by Stalin’s dictatorship in defeating Hitler. Yet the most objective way of characterising the Allies’ victory would be purely as a military and even more prosaically as a logistical victory, rather than a victory of the liberal democratic system. But such a statement will no doubt seem counter-intuitive to generations brought up to believe that the democrat’s pen is mightier than the dictator’s sword, even if the pen is wielded by Churchill when he was drafting his speeches. Where does the power to change things really lie? Since the blessings of liberty
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are now increasingly understood to mean consumerist liberties, we in the developed world will continue to have a justification for enjoying what we will from the persisting inequalities of wealth between the north and the exploited south, stripping the planet’s resources as if they not only belonged to the minority but were also limitless. In the words of the United States National Security Strategy, a key US objective is to: ‘Ignite a new era of global economic growth through free markets and free trade.’ What difference might it make if this strategy said instead that we will: ‘Create a new era of global democratic growth through tolerance, understanding and a fair and sustainable distribution of wealth?’ *Colin Challen
is MP for Morley
and Rothwell, CIWEM Environmental Parliamentarian of the Year 2008 and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change.
Too Little, Too Late: the politics of climate change (ISBN: 978-0-956037-00-8), is published by Picnic Publishing and costs £9.99.
A Musical Evening with the President An Environmental Journey in Words & Music
(To guarantee a place, please book early by completing the booking form below) CIWEM MUSICAL EVENT: 19TH MARCH 2009 Name: (Dr/Mr/Mrs/Ms/other) PLEASE PRINT ……………………………………………………………….. Company : ………………………………………………………… Position: ………………………………… Address : ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….… Tel: …………………………………………… Fax: …………………………………………………………… Email: …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. CIWEM Industrial Affiliates qualify for a 5% discount on all bookings. This musical event will be held in the magnificent surroundings of the Reform Club Library at 104 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5EW starting with a drinks reception and finger buffet at 6.30pm. The concert will start at 7.30pm. Carriages at 10.30pm Dress: business attire. CORPORATE TABLES: ☐ Please reserve my organisation ..….. corporate table(s) for 7 at £500 plus VAT (£75) total payable per table £575 (Industrial Affiliates - £475 plus VAT (£71.25) total payable £546.25). Space is strictly limited, to ensure reservation of a corporate table please enclose payment of 25% deposit - £125.00 plus VAT (£18.75) total payable per table £143.75 (Industrial Affiliates deposit £118.75 + VAT £17.81 total payable £136.56). Companies & other organisations booking corporate tables are kindly requested to make a charitable donation to help further the work of the Institution which MAY BE OFFSET AGAINST CORPORATION TAX LIABILITIES. My company wishes to support CIWEM’s charitable activities and I include a charitable donation of £ ……..…....…… The cost of a corporate table includes an element of sponsorship. Companies and other organisations taking a corporate table will be listed as supporters in the programme, publicity material and news releases for the event. INDIVIDUAL TICKETS: Please send me ……. ticket(s) at £40 + VAT (£6.00) total payable £46.00 each. I also enclose a Gift Aid donation of £ ………… towards CIWEM’s charitable activities.
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NARRATED BY ROGER KEY WITH JOHN GOUGH & CIWEM PRESIDENT, ALASTAIR MOSELEY ON PIANO GUEST READER – JANET AMSDEN has appeared at the Young Vic, The National Theatre and Royal Exchange and in various TV productions including Eastenders, Doctors, Spooks and Casualty
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CAN GAMES BE GREEN? With the CIWEM Sport and the Environment Network scheduled for launch later this year, Jonathan Ives* considers the links between games and the green agenda.
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Sport is a useful tool or a powerful weapon, depending upon how you see the world. It is, despite occasional appearances to the contrary, a great unifier, bringing people together locally and globally in a shared joy of competition and excitement. Sports people are among the most recognisable individuals on the planet and sporting governing bodies, not least the International Olympic Committee and football’s international custodian, FIFA, are among the most influential organisations, holding in their sway politicians, industries and economies on every continent. A vast marketing industry has grown around the understanding that sport has a huge potential to engage people and present all manner of ideas to them wherever they may be. What could be achieved, one might wonder, if just part of this power was harnessed in the interests of the environment? It is an issue that CIWEM is set to explore through the work of its new Sport and Environment Network, and there is much work to be done if sport is to become part of the solution instead of a rather obvious contributor to the problem. There are signs that environmental issues are beginning to appear on the sporting radar. A recent issue of WEM outlined some of the programmes across the world of sport. But in the UK, the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be dominating every sporting consideration for some years to come. Faced with bringing the biggest sporting event the world has ever seen to London, the organisers of London 2012 have at least recognised the scale of the environmental challenge and there is clearly a genuine aspiration to make it ���the greenest Games ever.’ There is evidence of interesting and innovative approaches to the management of the environmental impact in and around the Olympic site, with all aspects of site preparation, building design and construction subjected to environmental analysis. The extent to which these aspirations can be delivered as the Games approach remains to be seen, but the fact that a longterm legacy has been central to the whole London 2012 project may yet prove to be its most lasting environmental achievement. Elsewhere on the international sporting stage, most governing bodies are by now able to point to some kind of environmental
credentials. FIFA, which stands alongside the IOC at the top of the list of the most politically and economically influential sporting organisations, has its Green Goals programme. Even that most environmentally questionable of sports, Formula One motor racing, has shown glimmers of green recognition. Formula One supporters will point to the adoption of standard fuels, new emphasis on fuel economy and, of course, the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) that has become a constant feature of race-day commentary. All this, they argue, has an impact on the engineering and design of everyday vehicles, a long-term benefit that builds into an environmental legacy. It is a significant leap from green recognition to environmental responsibility but, while the claims on behalf of Formula One may be hard to swallow whole, they do at least serve to illustrate the scale of investment available to international sporting endeavour. The Olympic Games, the football World Cup and Formula One are all multibillion-pound operations that are courted by countries and feted by nations around the world. International sporting stars have the brand recognition and access to air time of which presidents, prime ministers and dictators can only dream. Sport – the universal love – and the environment – the universal issue – should be suited perfectly. However, if we are looking to elite sport for environmental enlightenment there is clearly some way to go. Staying with Formula One, few people with the most basic grasp of environmental and climate issues could have failed to be struck by the abandonment of the recent Malaysian grand prix. As many predicted, running an evening event in Malaysia’s tropical climate for the benefit of a European television audience increased the likelihood of a downpour and it duly came, washing Bernie Ecclestone and his international circus of consumption off the track. Formula One’s move from its traditional European heartland for new venues in the Middle and Far East is motivated by commercial concerns and the environmental consequences of transporting the whole show from race to race around the world rather than, as was once more frequent, across Europe, are vast.
Continued on page 8
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Continued from page 7 Given that it is played on a vast green sward, cricket should surely be the most environmental of sports but the legacy of the last world cup in the West Indies was epitomised by the Sir Vivian Richards stadium in Antigua. The largest of sporting white elephants, this huge new stadium was built at enormous expense in the wrong place, on the wrong scale and at the wrong time with little concern for local needs and local context. Back in town, the Antigua Recreation Ground, which had served international cricket proudly for many years, needed only comparatively minor renovation to do the job, but was ignored in favour of grandiosity. That a restored Rec would have been an appropriate venue was admirably illustrated by the recent Test series during which the match was transferred hastily to the old ground when the new one was unfit for play. The new stadium now serves as an illustration of both sporting and environmental hubris on the grandest of scales. For all these short-comings, are there grounds for hope? There are some signs that the sporting world might yet be persuaded to engage its interest in things other than commercial gain. Aston Villa and Barcelona are not often mentioned in the same sentence but both promote charities on their shirts (Acorns and Unicef
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respectively) instead of commercial sponsors, suggesting that there is some corporate conscience to be tapped within elite sport. Off the pitch, architects and engineers designing sports facilities and stadia have recognised the need to embrace such concerns as energy efficiency, grey water and public transport as part of their environmental responsibility. Even the growing visibility and success of cycling as a sport, in the UK at least, could be construed as an important environmental legacy if it persuades more people on to two wheels instead of four. Such initiatives are tiny in comparison to what could be achieved were the power of sport to be harnessed on behalf of the environmental agenda. If elite sport is to be persuaded that its power should be used for the greater good, rather than greater profit, there will have to be a revolution in the way that the major international governing bodies of sport understand their roles and responsibilities. Our hope lies in our understanding that successful revolutions begin with ordinary people taking to the streets (and the pitches) to make their views known. The future of sport and its engagement with the environment begins at its grass roots where community sport reflects a sense of place, a sense of engagement with people and their
surroundings. In the parks and playgrounds of nations around the world sport is used to bring people together. Every day people of all ages and all backgrounds in all nations come together in the name of sport. While they come to play, they also meet to share ideas, shape ideals and change minds. Let us hope that Allen Stanfordâ€™s arrival by helicopter at Lordâ€™s, a venue only a few minutesâ€™ walk from a Tube station, will be remembered as a watershed in the relationship between sport and the environment. The self-appointed great and good might think that they control sport, but their definition of the term is narrowed to meet the interests of the rich and the self-important. Our understanding of sport can be much broader, embracing the sporting interests and environmental abilities of the people who take to the street to kick a ball or chalk stumps on the wall. These sporting communities will dictate ultimately the agendas of the governing bodies, but it will take time and they will need help. Sport can be part of the solution, but we will have to start close to the ground if we want ideas to grow.
Editor of The
Leisure Review, which can be found online at www.theleisurereview.co.uk
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CIWEM’s Environmental Photographer of the year 2009 -“Black & Veatch’s World of Difference” category highly commended: Maria Hajitheodosi
THE CIWEM WORLD OF DIFFERENCE AWARD 2010 closing date 12th February 2010 The World of Difference Award was established in 2004 as a means of rewarding the leading proponents of the practical application of science and engineering for sustainable development. The Award focuses on innovation in the water and energy sector; this can be a product, project, or service that has made a difference. It is sponsored by Black & Veatch, a global engineering, construction and consulting company. Award Criteria • To succeed entries will have to present ways of meeting society’s water and energy challenges. Solutions need to be both innovative and also demonstrate sustainability by simultaneously benefiting society, the environment and the economy. • The scale of the solution proposed is immaterial; however successful entries will have to show they are already making a genuine difference. • Submissions in connection with projects/initiatives that have not previously received recognition are encouraged. • The Award is international and open to all, with the exception of Black & Veatch employees. • Successful entrants will need to meet the aims and objectives of CIWEM. The Prize The Award consists of a specially-commissioned trophy, publicity for the winning entrant, a framed certificate, a cheque for £2,500 and up to £500 towards travelling costs to receive the award. The winning entrant will be outlined in the CIWEM magazine. The winner will be announced and the Award presented at the CIWEM Annual Dinner. For further details, please see www.ciwem.org/awards or email firstname.lastname@example.org
CIWEM Executive Director, Nick Reeves, warns that failure to invest now could leave Britain trailing in the green jobs league.
THE TECHNOLOGY RACE
The railway mania of the 1800s was backed by a mind-boggling level of investment that was equivalent to three times Britain's gross domestic product. This was infrastructure development and risk-taking on a massive scale that required numerous Acts of Parliament in very quick time. The Victorians had no doubt of the benefit of the gamble, and the riches to be gained from the journey they had embarked upon. If only we shared their foresight, their passion and their vision and their ability to make stuff happen as we contemplate the opportunities that climate change has brought for a bright green future. But technofix solutions are not – as
some would have us believe - the only answer to climate change. Technology alone won’t do the job, as Sir David King emphasised at CIWEM's Annual Conference 2009, graphically demonstrating how we are on a path that will lead to the disruption of the stable climate on which civilisation depends, unless consumerism and population growth is reduced considerably. There needs to be a fundamental shift from consumer madness - that has stripped the Earth of finite resources - to a new economic model that’s about nature, nurture and replenishment. Technological advances must be rooted firmly in cultural change and development within
environmental limits. If we can alter our thinking along these lines there’s good business to be done. As the UK Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) has said consistently, the stakes are high, the opportunities breathtaking. The water, energy and environment sectors will have a vital role to play in the green revolution. Meantime, UK unemployment is set to top three million by the end of the year. During that time the Treasury expects the economy to shrink by at least 1.2 percent. Children’s Secretary, and former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Ed Balls, thinks Continued on page 13
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CIWEM is launching the Stockholm Junior Water Prize
UK national competition in 2009
and is currently looking for
sponsorship The SJWP is a youth science competition aimed at getting students involved in water and environmental advocacy. Finalists will represent the UK in an international competition held in Stockholm during World Water Week.
For more information about SJWP please email CIWEM at email@example.com or visit http://www.ciwem.org/awards/sjwp/
Continued from page 11 that the world’s economic climate is the worst it has been for 100 years. However, there is an alternative view that is gaining momentum. Climate change has to be tackled and it will be considerably cheaper to do so sooner rather than later. It means restructuring the economy – and there is no better time to do it. There’s no time to lose. The era of procrastination is over. As developed countries struggle with recession, the concept of green-collar jobs has entered the Government lexicon of solutions. Investment and planning will be crucial to making it a reality. Consequently, the gauntlet will be thrown down to spatial planners to move communities into the low-carbon economy. But this raises the spectre of the much-debated skills gap that pervades the built environment professions. Unless there is investment in training and skills it is hard to see how the UK will emerge as a leader in green technologies. As banking and business bail-outs hoover up yet more tax-payers cash (that
look set to beggar the country for years to come), and the Government lurches from one catastrophe to another, one question hovers ominously over its handling of the recession. Is there another answer? The approval of Heathrow Airport’s expansion and the expected backing for a coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in Kent betray a Government hell-bent on sticking with a high carbon-economy. That a Government can genuinely claim plaudits for its innovative climate change legislation on the one hand and announce bonkers policies on energy and transport that will add to the UK’s emissions burden on the other, is jaw-dropping. Environment Agency Chairman, Chris Smith, has called for a national policy on the environment. Fat chance of that while Ministers face both ways on green issues. Yet the recession (or depression) offers a belated opportunity to transform the economy, structurally, to a greener hue. A goal to reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050 may be bold (rendered fantastical, even, by the promise of a global population of nine billion souls in 40
years). But this is a Government with more than ten years experience of setting targets and failing to reach most of them. Some well-spun initiatives to boost renewables and home insulation aside, limp is the politest description of the UK’s progress on the environment. It is way behind the world leader status some claim in Westminster. Our competitors have taken the hint and are about to seize the initiative. The US, China, South Korea, Japan and Germany have all unveiled multi-million pound programmes for investing in green technologies, creating millions of greencollar jobs. In particular, President Obama has committed $150 billion (£99 billion) over the next ten years in an audacious move to create a clean energy economy (and he has recruited the best environmental advisers to his top team). China will invest $142 billion (£93 billion) to ensure that its plans for growth are not stalled. The Chinese leadership knows it must pacify restless workers whose aspirations for material wealth must be met, or face the threat of civil unrest.
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LET’S HEAR ABOUT A VISION OF BRITAIN AS A LOW CARBON SOCIETY Sergio Leone was the great Italian film director who propelled Clint Eastwood to international fame as the ‘man with no name’ in his iconic spaghetti westerns. But, petulantly, he claimed that the actor had just two expressions: ‘With or without a hat.’ The same could equally be said of this Government. Ministers have a limited range and a remarkable ability to present green credentials, while backing ‘business as usual.’ And they seem to be getting away with it! Despite a commitment to a low-carbon society we have no idea how the Government will meet its carbon target for 2020. But we’ve seen all this before. There comes a time when governments running on empty get into such a pickle that the sheer horridness of their predicament leads them to behave like people suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, or much worse. The events of the past few months show just how desperate things are getting for an administration haunted by the recession, dithering on the environment and facing a general election. Rather than confronting the downturn by developing a cohesive vision for the next generation, kick-starting the green economy or tackling the emerging energy crisis with real conviction, ministers have resorted to the kind of destructive behaviour associated with those who turn to drugs or the bottle, or both, to cope with their distress. This time it’s not just spin, but gratuitous smearing of political opponents and conflicting policies on the environment. Another similarity is what psychologists call ‘distraction activity’. With governments, this means ministers going on a media blitz about a supposedly major initiative. Step
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forward former Communities and Local Government Secretary, Hazel Blears and her ‘empty shops revival plan to prevent ghost towns,’ which featured prominently in the media last April. At first glance this plan seemed like an attention-grabbing solution to a problem that is turning many town and city centres into eyesores. It proposes to convert empty shops that are blighting temporarily the urban landscape into social enterprises, community cafés, art galleries or learning centres. Special planning application waivers and ‘interim use leases’ will bring about this mini cultural revolution that will lead to nobody knows where. To be fair, though, the Government is at least acknowledging the problem and trying to do something about it. Unfortunately, the crisis is already here and has been with us for a very long time, with 80 percent of local councils reporting an upsurge in vacant premises. In some towns 40 percent of outlets lie empty. Meantime, retail analysts and planners predict that 15 percent of UK retail floor space will be disused by the end of 2009. We will soon have identikit towns of a different kind. Instead of the usual brands, no brands at all. Just row-upon-row of empty shops and grubby high streets where nobody will want, or need, to go. But the real absurdity behind the ‘revival’ plan is that just £3 million will be released by the Government to support it. With a conservative estimate putting the number of towns in England at around 700, this represents a spend of around £4,300 per high street. Wow! That’s one hell of a stimulus. The most prominent recent example of distraction activity, with a bewildering range
of conflicting initiatives, came from Chancellor Alastair Darling in his last budget. Heralded as a low-carbon budget, with £1.4 billion for a rag-bag of renewable energy, energy efficiency and green technology projects, it showed that this Government is facing both ways on the environment and going nowhere on climate change. In the same package of measures the Chancellor announced a bewildering ‘scrappage’ scheme under which motorists would be given a financial incentive to buy a new car and tax incentives to oil companies to explore old and inaccessible oil fields. Meantime, Climate Secretary, Ed Miliband, will press ahead with his bonkers plan for energy from coal. For some inexplicable reason he believes - like a craven, but ultimately flawed, alchemist – that it will be possible to produce clean energy from coal through carbon capture and storage (CCS), which is one of the biggest myths on the planet. You couldn’t make it up: climate change legislation that binds ministers to impossible carbon emissions targets that won’t be met; clean energy from coal using a technology that doesn’t exist; unsustainable nuclear energy with no plan for the safe disposal of waste; financial incentives to buy new cars; commitment to airport expansion that will blight the lives of whole communities; billions of pounds for bankers, but comparatively little for green-collar jobs and for renewables. And it’s hard to believe that ministers are sincere about emissions targets when they give the go-ahead to a third runway at Heathrow. None of this makes any sense at all and yet we’ve heard a lot about a green new deal. Continued on page 16
The way out of the big black hole has to be green, says CIWEM Executive Director, Nick Reeves
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Continued from page 14 Across the globe, since the start of the financial crisis, governments have been talking up the environmental content of their fiscal stimulus programmes and being judged by their efforts to save the planet. The US, China, Japan and South Korea have been praised for their ambitious plans to invest in renewable energy, clean transport, and energy and water efficiency. Britain, by contrast, has been castigated for the relatively miserly sums committed so far to green projects, and almost nothing for environmental education. Whatever the Government does next, it will pale into insignificance compared to South Korea. The magnificently titled Secretary for Vision, Kim Sang-hyo, has announced a £23 billion programme of environmental projects, easily the highest level of green investment expenditure in the world, that will create over a million new jobs. Kim is committed to a fundamental restructuring of the South Korean economy that will herald a massive cultural shift. But, hold your breath, the
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South Korean Government plans to: build a million green homes; improve the energy and water efficiency of a million more; invest £1.2 billion on research into low-carbon technologies; spend £4.8 billion on new high-speed railways; create more than 2,500 miles of cycleways; employ 50,000 people in the forestry sector to increase carbon sink capacity and build the country’s first wood pellet fuel mill. And the biggest and most controversial item of expenditure is the ‘renewal’ of four rivers to reduce the risk of drought. The brouhaha that this project will create is inevitable and will cause a nut-crunching scream from ecologists. It’s a measure of the astonishing ambition of the South Korean Government to make stuff happen and to be a world-leading, low-carbon economy. Britain, meantime, is talking about much smaller sums – a few quid here and a few quid there - compared to the size of the task. Consequently, along with Malta and Luxembourg, this country languishes right at the bottom of the renewables league table. The best we can do, it
would seem, is to talk up electric cars that won’t appear in any great number until 2012. And even then there’s no certainty that the electricity they use will be green electricity. We need to hear about a serious scale of investment and commitment and a big picture that is about a vision of Britain as a low-carbon society. Green is the only way out of the big black hole we’re in. It would provide new jobs, insulate homes, provide clean energy, use water efficiently and re-tool the economy for the future. It would leave the fossil-fuel junkies to rot (or force them to change). The green lowcarbon route is also about fairness and ensuring that future generations don’t pay for our folly. But with a Government low in confidence, and with an election on the horizon, will change happen? The budget was the acid test of whether the Government is prepared to face the significance and the scale of the issues to be tackled, or whether ambition and leadership are reserved only for rhetoric.
YOUR NOMINATIONS Following last year’s successful celebration of ‘eco-
forthcoming December/January magazine. But this year
heroes’ in the December/January edition of WEM (The
we want your nominations. Who has inspired, informed
Environment Magazine), we will be celebrating the
and educated you? Who would you declare an eco-
successes of the best environmental proponents, both
hero of world standing?
alive and past, from the world’s of academia, literature,
Email your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org by
the arts, politics, the faiths, business and activism in the
Erika Yarrow* reports on the green revolution that is getting us off the sofa and into our wellies.
WE’RE DIGGING IT Tom and Barbara did it in the 1970s, Jamie Oliver did it back in the days when he had only a window box to his name and Michelle Obama is bringing it to the White House. Growing your own is back in fashion and even the rich and famous are discovering what your grandparents always knew – home grown fruit and vegetables taste better, are fresher, cheaper and more satisfying than any other ingredient you will find at even the most celebrated deli. In these times of recession, and with food prices rising in many parts of the world, growing your own has become a great way of saving money and enjoying the luxury of delicious tasting food, whilst benefiting the environment and your pocket. Whilst the passion for home grown food is on the up, many people have limited space and the waiting list for allotments in some parts of the country is such that you wish your parents had put your name down for one when you were still in nappies. Lack of private space does not hold back ardent growers, however, and the spirit of New York’s Green Guerrillas of the 1970s is holding strong and expanding. Guerrilla gardeners across the world are transforming unloved spaces – wayside verges, forgotten flower beds and drab concrete containers – by taking it on themselves to plant flowers, trees and herbs to cheer the hearts of passers by and bring a lift to public spaces that have long been forlorn. Gardeners with only small spaces are becoming more creative, growing herbs in window boxes and tumbling tomatoes in hanging baskets. Food Up Front, set up in
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May 2007 by Sebastian Mayfield and Zoe Lujic, who met as permaculture students, is a project that encourages urban dwellers to grow food in their front gardens, spaces that all too often are neglected or given over to parking. Food Up Front’s aim is to turn food miles into food inches and help stir up some community spirit along the way through the swapping of seeds and produce. In its first year the project attracted 50 people, all from just a small area in Wandsworth. The scheme is now expanding across London. Food Up Front provides an ideal introduction for gardening novices, participants receiving a Green Garden Guide which includes critical dates for planting and harvesting, free containers and compost produced from local waste. Zoe Lujic says: ‘Anybody can grow anything, even in very small places. Just give it a try.’ Mayor Boris Johnson and Chair of London Food, Rosie Boycott, are also helping to find Londoners spaces in which to grow food. Their project, Capital Growth, identifies suitable patches of land around London and offers financial and practical support to groups of enthusiastic gardeners or organisations seeking to grow food for themselves or the local community. Organisations targeted to make land available for the scheme include councils, schools, hospitals, housing estates, utilities companies and parks. Amongst the first to sign up were Blenheim Gardens (a housing estate in Brixton), a privately-owned residential garden in Morden, and Latchmere House (a resettlement prison in Richmond). Most recently British Waterways has joined the
scheme, working with Capital Growth to identify a range of suitable spaces for growing food, including land beside canals and floating gardens on retired workboats. The first stretch of land to be made available is along the Hertford Union Canal in Hackney Wick. The area will be tended by Growing Concerns, a community landscape and gardening team working to improve the environment for those living and working in the East End of London. British Waterways’ Chairman, Tony Hales, says: ‘British Waterways is very excited to be part of the Capital Growth project. The 100 miles of canals and rivers we care for in London provide a green corridor through the city, offering an escape from the hustle and bustle of streets. We are working with Capital Growth to identify any suitable pockets of land along London’s waterways that we or others might not be using and matching them up with local groups and schools looking to grow their own food.’ He continues: ‘If these schemes are successful then there is no reason why we couldn’t repeat them elsewhere in the UK along the 2,000 miles of canals and rivers in our care as part of a wider initiative to encourage communities to make greater use of their waterways. Our network already attracts 11 million visitors each year and hopefully this scheme will encourage even more people to get a taste for the canals.’ Joining forces with celebrity chef and keen producer of food, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the National Trust will be creating 1,000 new Continued on page 20
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Continued from page 18 allotment plots over the next three years. Each of the spaces will be registered through the Landshare website (www.landshare.net), set up by Whittingstall to provide an online ‘matchmaking’ database of keen growers and those who have land available. Fiona Reynolds, Director General of the National Trust, says: ‘There’s something in the air. More and more people want to grow their own fruit and vegetables. This isn’t just about saving money – it’s really satisfying to sow seeds and harvest the fruit and veg of your labour. By creating new growing spaces the National Trust can help people to start growing for the first time.’ She continues: ‘We’re also looking to recruit many more volunteers with fruit and vegetable growing skills and knowledge to join us, so that we can offer even more practical help and advice to
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new gardeners.’ The new National Trust growing spaces will be in restored kitchen gardens, agricultural land or on vacant land near to Trust properties. Even the back garden of the National Trust’s London office in Queen Anne’s Gate is to be turned over to an allotment, to be used by Trust employees. Whilst this fervour for growing your own is not about to make the UK self-sufficient, and we are blessed in not having to face the dire need for home-grown food that necessitated the ‘Dig For Victory’ campaign or the Cuban drive for selfsufficiency after the food crisis in the 1990s with the demise of the Soviet bloc and tightened US embargos, this desire to work the land is helping us to look at food differently. It is creating an appreciation of the work that goes into food production, helping us to gain an understanding of the seasons, reduce our food miles and, importantly, to learn skills
that many older gardeners feared may die with them. The common thread that joins all of these new schemes is the sense of community that they seek to nurture. Not some kind of false, imposed community, but a spirit created by the coming together of like-minded souls with a common goal. If you are not yet growing, but tempted to dip your toe in the water, then the ‘Big Lunch,’ a national street and garden party to be held on 19 July, may be a good place start. Championed by the Eden Project’s Tim Smit, the event encourages communities to share food (much of which it is hoped will be home-grown, with the Big Lunch website www.thebiglunch.com, providing advice and growing timelines), swap plants and share knowledge. So why not go along, meet some neighbours you may not have known you had and go home perhaps with a cutting or two?
OF THE YEAR 2008 competition is now open
Private View from 6.30pm 29th May 2008 Apothecary Gallery, 33 Greyhound Road, W6 8NH tel. 020 7381 5727
RSVP to Emily Doyle email@example.com or 020 7831 3110 or 020 7831 3110
VIRTUAL WATER A pot of tea – 90 litres Agriculture and manufacturing account for vast amounts of water, so when we consume food and goods we also consume water, a large percentage of which is imported, often from regions of the world that face increasing scarcity as a result of climate change. The average figures of embedded water will help to give you an idea of your annual footprint.
One litre of beer – 300 litres
A litre of milk – 1,000 litres
A cotton shirt – 2,500 litres
A pair of jeans - 5,400 litres
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One kilogram of lamb – 6,100 litres
One kilogram of beef – 16,000 litres
glass of apple juice – 190 litres
A pot of coffee – 840 litres
A slice of wheat toast – 40 litres
A packet of crisps – 185 litres
500 grams of cheese – 2,500 litres
An egg – 200 litres
A cob of corn – 450 litres
One kilogram of rice – 3,000 litres
An apple – 70 litres
A bottle of wine – 720 litres An orange – 50 litres
A pair of leather shoes – 8,000 litres
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MAILBOX Sustainability: So what? Why is it so difficult to get politicians, engineers and environmentalists to grasp the great, underlying problem of overpopulation? Environmentalists are sweeping up the scattered garbage in the street, while the real polluters carry on dumping it. Environmentalists are slowly bailing out the sinking ship with cupped hands, instead of fixing the leaks. Whenever I bring up this topic at environmental, global warming or energy meetings – gently so as not to hurt well-intentioned people - my observations are avoided. The trend of all involved is to be seen to be being helpful to the climate. But, this is certainly a losing battle when population is expanding so rapidly and when the standard of living of that population is ‘improving’ at such a fast rate. We should certainly bail out the sinking ship. But shouldn’t we be fixing the leaks
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as well? Please, with Nick Reeves, contact BBC Radio, to which I have also written, as it is at last starting a series of programmes on the ‘Population Disaster’. No matter how inhuman it appears, there is no logical choice but to start compulsory population control. David Stones is a member of CIWEM Erika Yarrow: Thank you for you email. WEM has been keen to raise awareness about the population issue, as has CIWEM, holding a well-attended dinner debate on the subject led by Jonathan Porritt. But as your email alludes, to make any headway on this we need strong Government policies on a global scale. That said, I am only too delighted that the BBC is taking the issue seriously and dedicating a series to the impending problems of a growing, international population.
W G FE IN ST IN ES LA MA AC RE PL
& the Society for the Environment THURSDAY 12TH MARCH 2009 THE REFORM CLUB
A DINNER DEBATE POPULATION & LIFE STYLE
LED BY JONATHON PORRITT FOUNDER DIRECTOR, FORUM FOR THE FUTURE & CHAIRMAN OF THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION
A Dinner Debate will be held in the Strangers’ Room of the Reform Club, 104 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5EW at 6.30pm; dinner will be served at 7pm. Dress: business attire Places are limited and early booking is advised. To make reservations for this event please fill in the slip below and send with an accompanying cheque or credit card details no later than 12th February 2009 to: Lorraine Poole, CIWEM, 15 John Street, London, WC1N 2EB. Email: Lorraine@ciwem.org
I (name in blocks) ……………………………………………………………...……………… Would like to attend the dinner discussion and bring as my guest …………………………………………………………………………………………………… I enclose a cheque for £………. (£34.50 inc VAT) made payable to “CIWEM” or my MasterCard/Visa card details are Card No.
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Signed …………………………………………………………..… Date: ………………..….. Please note if paying by credit card we require the full postal address where the card is registered. Special dietary requirements: ……………………………………………….……………………………………………………… Please note that tickets will not be issued for this event. Confirmation will be sent by email. Please note your email address below. If you do not have email then please advise either fax or telephone number: Email: ………………………………………….....………. Tel: ………………….…………….. Fax: ………………….……………. Cancellations Policy An administration charge of 25% will apply to all bookings cancelled before (12th February 2009). No refunds will be accepted after this date and all remittances will remain due. All cancellations must be in writing. Substitutions will be accepted. CIWEM Registered Charity No. 104309
London, Olympia Conference Centre 29th – 30th April 2009
CIWEM’S ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2009 WATER & THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT
The key event for water and environment professionals
CIWEM’s Annual Conference will address multidisciplinary issues across all areas of the global water and environment sector, offering keynote speakers, exhibitions and networking opportunities
Delegate Rate Standard delegate rate Concessionary rate Group booking rate (3 or more people booking at one time) Full-time postgraduate students/Retired CIWEM Members
Price £225 + VAT £195 + VAT £195 + VAT £95 + VAT
Sponsorship and Exhibitor opportunities are available. Contact Justin Taberham on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7831 3110 To register for the conference, please contact Bob Earll, email@example.com 01531 890415