Thursday, January 11, 2007

Time to stop drifting like a cork on the river

The location of the conference on climate change in South Shields on Friday 12th January reminded me of something that Edward de Bono said about feeling powerless. That feeling of pointlessness that leads to apathy and inaction. At South Shields riverside's Little Haven Hotel, the conference will hopefully not just be a talking shop for 'people of note', but will provide some motivation for South Tyneside Council.

The conference will feature a very special speaker. Not Friends of the Earth gaffer Tony Juniper; not mild mannered MP Mr Miliband (but they'll be there too); but Woking council's chief executive Ray Morgan. He was one of the drivers behind Woking council's 77 per cent cut in CO2 emissions, and his council's achievement is proof that major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can be made, even by councils working on their own initiative. Other councils have also done really well, such as Kirklees and Aberdeen, showing that with the right combination of ambition, initiative and urgency, councils can have an important role not just in reducing emissions, but as champions of sustainability.

South Tyneside Council, with it's feeble emission reduction target of only 5 per cent over 5 years, could gain a lot from Mr Morgan's advice, even if it's just to learn to say 'It can be done!' and be more ambitious in challenging climate change.

However, it's not just our council that should take something positive from what councils like Woking have achieved. Mr Miliband regularly reminds us that everyone has a role in reducing CO2 emissions. He's right.

As Edward de Bono said,"Everyone can be constructive in tiny ways".

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