Sustainable development or jobs for the boys?

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Sustainable development or jobs for the boys?

The Communities and Local Government department says the Government’s ‘Planning for a Sustainable Future: White Paper’ “proposes reforms on how we take decisions on nationally significant infrastructure projects – including energy, waste, waste-water and transport – responding to the challenges of economic globalisation and climate change. It also proposes further reforms to the Town and Country Planning system, building on the recent improvements to make it more efficient and more responsive.”

Friends of the Earth say that “sustainable development is being stripped apart to benefit big business. These proposals are bad for people, bad for democracy and bad for the environment … They will leave affected communities with no meaningful say in how their area is developed.”

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Climate Change for the Masses

The plethora of recent events designed to tackle climate change culminated last week in Live Earth, Al Gore’s much publicised 24-hour, 7-continent concert series. With the aim of triggering a mass global movement in response to the climate change agenda, more than 100 musical acts were united in order to reach a worldwide audience of an estimated 2 billion people.

So do these essentially ‘consumer’ events help or hinder the cause? Live Earth has been criticised for being little more than a middle-of-the-road publicity stunt and, with many of the acts arriving via international air travel, could be seen as making a mockery of the entire underlying message.

And yet maybe that’s the point. Live Earth may not have had any measurable effect in terms of tackling global warming, but at least we all know what the point of the event was. As Environment Secretary Hilary Benn pointed out, “Events like Live Earth can help to bring people together to encourage them to take action locally, nationally, and internationally and with more than 40% of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions coming from people’s homes and travel, inspiring people to act is increasingly urgent.”

Perhaps the message that we should take away from Live Earth is one of inclusiveness. Clearly business organisations need to play their part in reducing carbon emissions, but corporates should not be expected to shoulder the full weight of responsibility.

Research commissioned by DEFRA found that although 94% of British people think that the world’s climate is changing, only 66% say that they are personally taking action to limit this change. So what about the other 28%?

Using low energy lightbulbs, less of a reliance on air-conditioning and/or heating, switching off electrical appliances rather than merely leaving them on stand-by and a careful consideration of transport options are among the easiest changes that we can all make right across our every day lives.

Climate change is a big deal, but living and working sustainably, even at a personal level, need not be.

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