Now, before I update you on the coverage we achieved during last week's Energy Saving Week, I thought I'd quickly mention the Local Government Association climate change debate that I took part in last Wednesday (22nd October 2008).
The debate was entitled "Is a Nudge Enough? Can Climate Change be Tackled Without Government Intervention?" Now, you may be wondering what is meant by "nudge" in this context – well, the idea stems from two economic professors (based at the University of Chicago) who proposed that rather than government telling people how to live their lives – they should look instead to encourage or “nudge” people to live that way. You can find out more about the ‘Nudge’ theory by clicking here
With panellists including Greg Barker MP, Conservative Shadow Minister of State for Climate Change, Michael Meacher MP, former Labour Minister for the Environment and Liberal Democrat Councillor Alexis Rowell of Camden Council, the debate was lively and wide ranging. Cllr. Alexis Rowell noted that councils can do more, perhaps more than anyone, to lead in this fight, and pointed out many of the excellent examples of work being done by Camden Council in this area. I have to agree with his mantra of 'insulation, insulation, insulation' as one of the key solutions in solving climate change. It may not be the sexiest of products, but there is no point in doing the flashy stuff like solar PV, or ground source heat pumps unless a property is properly insulated. Pleasingly – despite Greg Barker and Michael Meacher having different political persuasions they both agreed that the government needs to show leadership and be prepared to expend political capital for the good of the environment. They further agreed that we have reached the point where regulations and frameworks are not enough – actual visible, coherent and long-term action is required to really get to the heart of this global issue. Greg Barker noted that the credit crunch should be used to encourage people to work towards a solution to climate change rather than to take this agenda off the table. Questions from the floor that stirred debate included how councils could be encouraged to pursue environmentally focused ends, and what role the government and the LGA has in encouraging councils and highlighting new technologies and methods for tackling climate change. The event was a great success and attracted in excess of sixty attendees, many of whom stayed to discuss the issues raised during the debate at the reception afterwards. Of course debate and discussion won't itself cut carbon, so it is imperative that our focus remains on encouraging and promoting the actions that will help us to meet the 80 per cent CO2 reduction target by 2050.
Oh – and you may be wondering -was there any agreement to the specific debate question "Is a nudge enough? Can Climate Change be Tackled Without Government Intervention?" Well, from my own perspective whilst government – whether nationally, or locally – needs to set an example, it is down to each of us to be responsible for ensuring that we live our lives in the most low carbon way possible. Perhaps then something a bit stronger than a "nudge" is needed! Maybe a "push" or "shove" is more in order?!