Carbon Conversations – Part 3 – Travel and Transport

Meeting three: slightly depleted numbers, but no shortage of energy and ideas in the room…

We began with a quick whip round to talk about positive steps we had taken to address climate change that week. They ranged from making a pledge to grow enough tomatoes to serve all winter ketchup and chutney requirements, to the building of bike sheds, to clever strategies to save money while driving (keep the tank half full), to harnessing solar energy to make jam, to aquaponics (and hydroponics too!).

But the main theme of the evening was travel. We brainstormed strategies for reducing our travel-related carbon emissions. One of the simplest but potentially most useful ideas to emerge was reducing one’s driving speed to 60 mph – people were surprised to hear what a big difference it makes to fuel consumption.

We then played a game which simulated some of the dilemmas that a typical family might go through when trying to reduce their travel-related footprint. Several members of the group commented that it had been very helpful in getting them to appreciate the complicated practical and ethical dilemmas people face when trying to take action on these issues.

We finished off with a discussion about how we can all personally reduce our travel footprints. Some people commented on their commitment to not flying and how they had imagined it might be difficult in our age of high-speed, long-distance travel. But contrary to their expectations, it had actually been a liberating decision, not a constraining one, and choosing to travel locally had made them appreciate and enjoy their holidays more. It made me reflect on whether the idea that people go ‘stir-crazy’ after spending too much time in one place is a myth promoted by the media to encourage us to travel more (and further). There are simple alternatives to hopping on planes for European city breaks – we could all learn to rediscover the joy of walking, and use to it connect more with a our local environment (as writers like Alain de Botton, and psychogeographers such as Will Self and Iain Sinclair, have shown).

Next session will be on food – perhaps the most fascinating issue of all!

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