We All Have Duty to Change Our Act; Our Planet Is in a More Desperate State Than Many of Us Realise, According to Environmentalist Jonathon Porritt. but There Are Things We Can Do to Make It Better, as AMY HUNT Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: AMY HUNT

FROM sorting out our recycling to using the car less, we're all expected to do our bit for the planet.

But while technology for tackling climate change is improving fast, changing people's behaviour has proved more difficult.

Baffled by more bins and complicated science, many people are turned off from going green.

And this is not helped by impressions, rightly or wrongly, that the Government and councils are not helping householders' environmental efforts.

Now Jonathon Porritt, renowned green commentator, once a director of Friends of the Earth and former eco adviser to Tony Blair, thinks the recession is our chance to really make the changes we need to ensure our planet survives for generations to come.

Mr Porritt has been at the sharp end of green thinking for 30 years, so how does he think things have changed? He says: "Our awareness and understanding of the selfishness of the way we're treating the Earth is better and in terms of scientific research there has been an amazing change.

"But in terms of our behaviour that's not such a good story. We have to have that if we're going to change anything."

But ask what he thinks the next 30 years will bring and his tone becomes more urgent.

He says: "We haven't got 30 years - we've got much less than that to make the changes required. You can even hear that in the voices of our politicians.

"I think there will be huge changes in the way we use and create energy, so there will be much more renewable energy. There will be big changes in terms of infrastructure, our reliance on public transport, smarter travel, walking and cycling.

"But you can't bully people out of using their cars. We have got to make it easier for them by creating a first-class public transport system and allowing people to cycle around a city without feeling like they're risking their lives.

"We have focused so much on the science that we have slightly overlooked the behaviour side and what makes people embrace change, rather than having change dumped on them by politicians.

"Government hasn't done as much as it ought to, but I think they know they have neglected a lot of things and they're having to catch up. …