9 Mar 2010

How to look good and do nothing

Our shameless local council have done it again. Like an overconfident ice-skater, they are talking the talk, whilst failing spectacularly to walk the walk.

This time it's the 10:10 campaign. That marvellously simple idea that if we all reduce our emissions by 10% during 2010, we'll have made a good start. Thousands of individuals, hundreds of companies, and over 100 councils have signed up to it.

St Albans Council have "agreed to support" the campaign. They're not "signing up" to it, just "supporting" it. Sounds great, but completely meaningless, committing themselves to nothing. They say they can achieve good emissions reduction within their own Carbon Reduction strategy. But they've already admitted to me, in an email last year, that they are failing to meet even their own, self-imposed targets.

Their paper on the story mentions that one of the things they're doing to reduce their environmental impact is trial the use of paper cups instead of plastic ones in the public areas of the council offices. Trial. Steady on guys.

In those same public areas are leaflets that encourage us all to, amongst other things, not leave our mobile phone chargers on standby.

No wonder they're not hitting their own targets, let alone feeling brave enough to sign up to something other councils are happy to do. Their timidity is shocking. What about a city-wide scheme to provide insulation to every home? What about forcing developers to build to high eco-standards? What about the hundreds of other significant ideas that have already been implemented in other parts of the country?

No, not for us. Like Blair, who claimed the UK was a world leader on climate change, whilst the country's actual emissions continued to rise and his government approved airport expansions and motorway widenings, our council loves to talk up its green credentials. But what are they actually doing?

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