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Why are we waiting?

2 May 2006

Blueprint for radical action by the public on climate change and environmental problems

Government and business must take radical action to help people tackle climate change and environmental problems, and get damaging products out of the shops. According to the Government's own advisory body, the Sustainable Consumption Roundtable, consumers need to be able to buy green products and services as second nature. It's time to start a new British love affair with sustainable fish and chips, to offer air travellers automatic carbon offset from their flights, and to make schools and hospitals carbon neutral.

To see real improvements, the deadlock must be broken. Government and business are currently waiting on consumers to choose more 'green' products and services. Consumers are ready & willing to act on climate change and the environment, but can't see the point, because they feel their efforts would be isolated and in vain.

According to the Sustainable Consumption Roundtable report - I will if you will - Britain already boasts a select range of sustainability success stories, which are down to a positive lead from business and government. These include: sustainable wood products, fair trade coffee, dolphin-friendly tuna, energy-efficient fridge freezers, washing machines and dishwashers.

To make these work across the economy, Government and business must get radical solutions into consumers' lives. Instead of waiting on consumers to make decisions on complicated environmental problems, Government and business must do it for them. The report specifies that Government should:

• Unite with business to get the most damaging products out of the shops, and replace them with environmental products, e.g.

- TV and set-top boxes which use massively less power when on standby
- Affordable hybrid cars
- Alternative fish species to Britain's much-loved, but hugely over-fished, cod

• Give consumers up-to-date energy information, so they can manage their energy use, by getting smart meters into every home by 2012

• Take the lead and make all schools and hospitals carbon-neutral by 2015

• Automatically give travellers the option to carbon offset their flights, to demonstrate the environmental impact of flying

• Develop a working economic model to track the links between national income, consumption growth and resources, by 2008

Alan Knight, co-chair of the Roundtable, says:
"The Government has got to stop relying on information leaflets and hoping for the best - and start working with businesses and NGOs to get practical measures into people's lives."

Ed Mayo, co-chair of the Roundtable, says:
"Going green can be smart and stylish. But it is not yet simple. We want to call the bluff of politicians, to take action to make the sustainable choice the easier choice.

"80% of our environmental impact as consumers comes from just four everyday decisions - how we run our homes, what food we eat, how we get around, and holiday travel. Solutions need to start here."

Download the report


Notes to Eds

• To download a free copy of the Sustainable Consumption Roundtable report, log onto www.sd-commission.org.uk

• The Sustainable Consumption Roundtable is a joint Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) and National Consumer Council (NCC) initiative funded by Defra and the DTI. Chaired by Ed Mayo of NCC and Alan Knight, an SDC Commissioner, the Roundtable brings together a small group of leading experts in consumer policy, retailing and sustainability, to produce a menu of practical policy recommendations for the Government.

• The Sustainable Consumption Roundtable was set up to examine the impact of the UK's burgeoning consumption rates on the natural systems of the planet. If everyone in the world consumed at the average rate as we do in the UK, we would need three planets to support us.

• The Sustainable Consumption Roundtable findings will be launched to the Government on 2 May.

For further information and interviews, contact Hazel Dempster on: 020 7238 6606 / 07790 119 215, or email hazel.dempster@sd-commission.org.uk

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