Carbon focus: Innovative methods to cut emissions

By Ed King
RTCC in Durban

One of the most impressive aspects of the main Exhibition Hall at COP17 in Durban is the ‘can-do’ attitude of activists and business from across the globe.

Organisations such as TckTckTck, Adoptanegotiator and are justly praised for the work they are doing to pressurise state delegates on a daily basis.

They have regular meetings with negotiators from their own countries, and the volunteers I have spoken to assure me they are listened to, and that their state representatives act on their advice.

But equally the sight of Canada and the USA being awarded #fossiloftheday on an almost daily basis does little to convince you that some of the major emitters are really listening – if they were perhaps someone else might get the award!

The spectre of global financial meltdown wafts around this conference – no matter how many times states make pledges into the Billions there is a nagging suspicion that while they look good on paper, the purse may never open.

And yet businessmen and women visiting the #UNFCCC Climate Change TV Studio for our daily interviews are brimming with optimism.

3M South Africa Managing Director Len Moult discussed his firm’s work on solar film that cuts the need for business to use air-conditioning in their offices, and their work on hi-tech transmission cables that reduce the number of pylons needed to transmit energy.

Professor Chin Siong Ho, Professor at the University Teknologi of Malaysia, explained that his work could see thousands of Malaysians cutting their emissions through simple and cost-effective techniques.

There are hundreds of similar entrepreneurs exhibiting their research and products in the centre today – which does provide hope that the future will be a greener and low-carbon one, despite the current deadlock in negotiations.

And yet away from COP17 opportunities to reduce and offset our carbon footprints exist all around us – as the following two videos illustrate. Filmed for BP’s Target Neutral project, and the BP carbon offset scheme, I think they illustrate what we can all do to make a small difference.

First the wild and wacky Adam Hart-Davies explains what carbon offsetting actually is – it’s worth a quick watch – you’d be surprised what can be achieved on a small budget.

Secondly there’s a clip from well-known environmentalist and former Sustainable Development Commission Chair Jonathan Porritt, who defends carbon-offsetting as a principle, arguing that “a very small action results in a big transformative change.”

Proof perhaps that while these talks are undeniably important, work on cutting emissions does not depend on an all-encompassing multilateral agreement.

Adam Hart-Davies:

Jonathan Porritt:

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