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Government»Thinking outside the box

»Monday, September 14,2009

Britains Green Guru proposes 19 Planit Saving Suggetions for UK CitizensThe Sustainable Development Commission, headed by Sir Jonathan Porritt, said the Government has failed to meet a range of targets on green living.


In an effort to get things back on track the advisory body has launched a range of innovative ideas for local authorities, government and individuals. The 19 "Breakthrough Ideas for the 21st Century" have all been developed and tested by a range of experts and many are already in action as pilot schemes across the country.

Suggestions include introducing "personal wellbeing education" or PWE into the school curriculum as well as more outdoor education, converting public flower beds to vegetable patches and handing out free bikes to encourage more people to take up cycling for journeys of fives miles or less.

A more punitive suggestion is to issue everyone with "carbon credit cards" that control the amount of energy each individual can spend on electricity, transport and even food.

The most daring ideas include converting the publicly-owned Royal Bank of Scotland to the Royal Bank of Sustainability, that invests in green technologies rather than fossil fuels, and retraining the unemployed in "green jobs" such as fitting solar panels.

Although many of the suggestions would require a major change of policy, such as increasing NHS spending on preventing ill health from four per cent to 20 per cent by 2020, all the ideas will be considered seriously by the Government. The SDC will also be approaching local authorities and business to take up some of the suggestions, such as setting up a public company to provide communities with low cost insulation.

The ideas are already being backed by a range of high profile names including the Prince of Wales, Rosie Boycott, Anna Ford and Jonathan Dimbleby.

Sir Jonathan, a former head of the Green Party and one time "green guru" to Tony Blair, said the Government has failed to make enough progress on sustainability issues. The UK is still the second worst greenhouse gas emitter in Europe, many species of native wildlife are in danger of going extinct and just two per cent of energy comes from renewable sources like wind and solar.

"Progress on sustainable development, at the national level, has been unbelievably slow. Yet all over the country, there are people taking action to make their own communities more sustainable, driving forward technological innovations, and pushing the policy agenda with really big ideas," he said.

The concept of carbon credit cards was first put forward two years ago by the then Environment Secretary David Miliband. Everyone in the country would be issued with a personal carbon budget for energy, transport and even food. If people go above the budget they can buy more credits on the open market and if they are below they can sell on the allowances.

The idea was rejected but Sir Jonathan, who has caused controversy before by suggesting people should not have more than two children to prevent overpopulation, said it was worth considering again.

"If you look at what is happening with climate change, we are approaching a point where people accept responsibility for their carbon footprint," he said. "The idea of a personal carbon credit card just gets you there a bit quicker. I am very keen to see this trialled."

Greg Clark, the Conservative energy spokesman, rejected the idea of carbon credit cards but said other ideas are worth considering.

"Fresh thinking is vital in every part of public life and no where is innovation more necessary than in finding effective solutions to tackling climate change," he said.

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