THE problem with the sustainability agenda is that it requires much thought in the way of long term planning.
And as is well know, British governments do not usually excel in planning ahead, preferring to concentrate instead on short-term gains for political expediency.
Asking MPs to draw up plans for achieving something in 50 years time, when world economies are presently disintegrating around our heads, is not likely to elicit much in the way of sympathy – particularly when the issues of low carbon and climate change are so difficult to grasp.
The government has set out ambitious targets in the Climate Change Act, requiring greenhouse gas emissions to be cut by 80 per cent by 2050. Some councils, including Birmingham, want to do even better and act more quickly although it is unclear at the moment how successful they can be.
In a series of articles about sustainability beginning in this newspaper today, it becomes clear that although many businesses are keen to do their bit to help to reverse the effects of climate change they do not always know how to go about this and feel that they are not receiving sufficient help and advice.
Construction consultants Amey have shown what can be achieved at relatively little financial cost by investing in video conferencing and encouraging staff to work from home wherever practicable. The benefit to the environment, through far fewer daily car journeys by employees, is immediately obvious.
Other firms can and should be following this example.
But Amey makes the valid point that businesses can only go so far in delivering the government’s sustainability targets.
Introducing expensive fundamental change in transport patterns and the way power is generated will only be commercially viable for the largest companies. Small businesses will quickly find themselves at a disadvantage by being unable to afford to, say, replace cars and vans with greener vehicles.
Clearly, the government has much to do in order to help us all – individuals, families and businesses – to think and act in a more sustainable way. Who, for example, could name the Climate Change Minister?
This important job is in fact filled by Warwickshire North MP Mike O’Brien, whose duties include delivering a low carbon economy.
It is true that he has only been in the job for three months, but can anyone recall a speech about climate change made by Mr O’Brien?