Thursday, December 7, 2006

Green Cars, the Green Agenda, and Jeremy Clarkson

During the last week I’ve been to various environmental events, ranging from conferences on biodiversity to sustainability forums. (This is what I do). At every single event the same message has been recurring – just when you thought green issues couldn’t rise up the political agenda any further – they rise up the political agenda further.

Climate change is obviously a main driver. Is Jeremy Clarkson the last person on the planet who refuses to acknowledge climate change is happening? (albeit presumably for entertainment value). Even George Bush is having to slowly concede on this one. At every environmental-related event I’ve been to this year there has been more and more evidence, not of climate change happening – that’s old news - but of climate change happening at a much faster rate than we all thought. If you’ve not seen Al Gore’s movie ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ then you need to. When you come out of that film you’ll be in no doubt that our glaciers are retreating and many of our delicately balanced ecosystems are facing a degree of destruction that can never be reversed.

So with our government describing climate change as the most serious threat to our planet, people shouldn’t be surprised that yet more and more legislation will be appearing to, at the best encourage us, but more realistically to force us, to drive cars that emit less CO2.

The Stern Report is increasingly being seen as a turning point. Up until that time, only specialist academic and environmental institutions were publishing work about the environment and the economy. With Stern’s findings, the government has at last become aware that climate change is going to mess up our economy, and it seems that is the most important wake-up call that the government could experience. Now it must be serious, and watch out for yet more increasing amounts of legislation about the new currency of carbon.

That’s why I set up I believe if someone feels passionate about achieving a goal, it’s possible to achieve whatever you want. I believe that it’s possible for millions of people around the world to continue their love affair with cars, by having cars that are fun to drive while at the same time emitting much lower levels of that weapon of mass destruction, CO2. And we’re aiming for our efforts to influence motor manufacturers to set their own goals to produce cars that are green and fun.

Today I was on the BBC again - the fourth time since our site was launched. A comment came up during the interview on the programme which has proved to be somewhat recurring – “Why do all green cars look so awful?” Obviously cars being green and sexy is as much of a mutually exclusive concept in people’s perception as cars being green and fun to drive. However now that the green agenda is riding the crest of a wave, the tide is also turning on green cars. Slowly, there are cars appearing that are making an effort to meet both of these polar opposites, and our aim is to make motorists aware of the latest cars that offer the fun that Jeremy Clarkson quite rightly wants, while at the same time demonstrating more responsibility towards our planet.

Paul Clarke
Founder, & Promote Environmental Communication