Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Yes, I'm back at the keyboard at last after a decidedly ecologically dodgy festive period (flying, eating, drinking, excessive presents for small child). But now we're into the (hopefully) abstemious month of January (more exercise, less food), it seems like a good time to have a look back at 2007 from an eco-point of view.

In my Review of 2006, I was able to quote big events, like the Gore Movie and the Stern Report, as significant steps forward. Unfortunately, looking at 2007, while there were more proclamations of intent (domestically zero carbon homes by 2016 and legally binding carbon targets, internationally the Bali conference) there seems no significant shift from intent to action - emissions, waste and the over-consumption of natural resources continue to rise, and all our leaders do is simply pin the blame on China (where we have shifted our dirty industries). The UK Government has made a right mess of subsidising microrenewables - most of the grants have gone unclaimed and yet there seems no move towards the 'feed in tariff' that has seen the uptake of renewables boom in Germany (along with the industry).

In terms of big names, Al Gore's Live Earth concerts were a peculiar fish - nobody quite seemed to understand what they were for and the restrictions put on reporting by the BBC made the events a bit surreal (the Foos were great tho). In the UK, George Monbiot continued to rant at all and sundry and published the excellent Heat. We sadly lost Anita Roddick, who, love 'er or hate 'er, pulled the green consumerism market out of the grip of the yoghurt weavers and onto the high street.

The good news from the year comes from the private sector - our supermarkets are in a green oneupmanship battle, and we seem to be on the verge of a breakthrough in solar photovoltaics funded in part by Google which could make solar electricity as cheap as that from coal. But some sectors of industry are still trying to spin their way out of trouble - I reported on this awful attempt at justifying battery hens and just before Xmas I saw two adverts for 4x4s at the cinema that portrayed the urban streets as tough places requiring tough vehicles for survival - an obvious attempt to deflect the ridicule heaped on the drivers of 'Chelsea Tractors'.

So, in summary, 2007 saw plenty more promises and precious little action. Hopefully 2008 will provide a good bit more of the latter...

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