Thursday, April 24, 2008

Are you Low-Carbon yet?

I had the pleasure of being involved in a new initiative in my ward yesterday evening: Low-Carbon Headington. There is already one low-carbon community group up-and-running in Oxford. With its launch yesterday, Headington is the second, with another hot on its tail.

Sceptics might ask: can a groups like this do anything? It's too early to promise success from Low-Carbon Headington, but there are positive signs. There was a real buzz in the room. We had Mark Lynas, author of Six Degrees, present to frighten us all with predictions of the catastrophes which might follow if we do nothing -- and, indeed, the disasters which will happen even if we do everything we must. Much of the work has to happen at an international level -- and demands real change from politicians, not just slogans (as, to be party-political for a moment, we're getting from the Tories right now). But I came away convinced that there are ideas in the community that can work with local action.

Part of the meeting was a 'post-it' session, where people jotted down their ideas and put them on a board. I had the job of trying to summarise them in 5 minutes -- an impossible task because there were so many, but here are a few of the themes which got repeated mention:

* local campaigns with shops and businesses -- in particular, encouraging an end to free plastic bags and persuading pubs not to have patio heaters
* 'greening Headington' -- especially, more trees in public and private spaces
* low-carbon transport -- car-clubs mentioned, as well as better cycling facilities -- plus Car-Free Headington Day, for which there are already plans
* pressure on government -- a call for carbon-rationing was particularly popular

There were many more ideas on the night -- and I expect there are many more out there among you. Do you have any suggestions we might add to the list and discuss at our next meeting at the Methodist Church Hall at 7:30pm on 2nd June?


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