There is no road

I’ve just posted an interview with sustainability expert Peter Head – named by Time magazine as one of the Environmental Heroes of 2008 – on the main RSA Arts and Ecology website.

He’s a great, genial, avuncular man, full of positives and enthusiasm. Or rather he was until I asked him this question:

Given that the IPCC has created this target of an 80% reduction of greenhouse emissions by 2050, where do you estimate we are now?

At this point his whole demeanour changed: “Nothing’s happened yet,” he said, optimism slipping. “There’s lots of talk. Well, it’s a bit crude to say has happened, but given the scale of the global challenge it’s tiny, tiny, tiny steps that have been taken. And I think it just gets more challenging every day because the problem seems to get worse all the time and the rate of delivery is just not matching it. If you take the London Climate Change Action Plan, the dramatic drop in emissions on their graph starts just after the Olympics in about 2013. So you do wonder how we are going to get all the measures in place to make that happen.”

Just so you know, this is a man who was a senior advisor to the Mayor’s London Sustainable Development Commission. If he doesn’t know which way is up, no-one does. And he’s saying that the gulf between what we say and what we do is getting dangerously large.

This interview is published in the opening week of  COP14 – the prequel to COP15, next year’s last-chance UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. COP14 is being held in Poznan, Poland, which is convenient because it gives the world community a chance to lean on Poland. To George Bush’s glee, Poland and Italy are turning out to be the two countries who may well scupper the European consensus on climate change. (For background, see Amplified Green’s post on the subject here.) Poland is against mandatory targets because it’s a 90% coal-based economy. Italy is against them because Berlusconi is mad as a duck in a shoe shop.

Now, this would be a perfect case for a bit of agitation; the world’s internet users could send the leaders of Poland and Italy a message letting them know what they think about this intransigence.

Only given the gulf between what we say and what we do, as pointed out by Peter Head above, I don’t think they’re likely to pay us much attention until we put our own house in order.

The illustration above is taken from an upcoming exhibition THERE IS NO ROAD (The Road is Made by Walking), a series of works about real or imaginary journeys (with tenuous links to the above) that opens at the LABoral Centre for Art
and Creative Industries
in Los Prados, Spain on 12 December and runs until 3 March. It features moving images and other installations from artists  Axel Antas, Ibon Aranberri, Ergin Çavusoglu, Gabriel Díaz, AK Dolven, Simon Faithfull (who did the Ice Blink exhibition in 2006 as a result of his expedition with the British Antarctic Survey), Annabel Howland, Roberto Lorenzo, Lutz & Guggisberg, Alexander & Susan Maris, Simon Pope and Erika Tan.