Cuts from the grass roots

7th October 2011

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Transport ,
  • Education ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Ecodesign ,
  • Products



After the disappointing lack of vision from the government this week, Sarah-Jayne Russell takes heart from the Scottish green awards

George Osborne’s conviction that the UK shouldn’t attempt to lead Europe in cutting carbon emissions was a sad commentary on the self-styled “greenest government” and its attitude towards tackling climate change.

Despite the frequently espoused view that the UK’s economic future lies in positioning itself at the forefront of developing green technology that ensures low-carbon energy, fewer greenhouse-gas emissions and drives resource efficiency, the government, or at least the Treasury, seems to lack the courage of that conviction.

And if the Conservative party conference is anything to go by the gap between the real world and the rhetoric seems to be growing.

It’s a good job then that plenty of organisations are not waiting to be forced by the government to re-examine their environmental impacts. At the Scottish green awards last week, I heard about schools, businesses, councils and community groups that not only acknowledge, but embrace the challenge of lowering their carbon footprint and improving their use of resources, and engage others to do the same.

It was inspiring stuff to hear of how transport firm First has taken the time to train the staff in its East Scotland division in how to drive more efficiently, cutting fuel usage by 4.5%, and how the St Enoch shopping centre in Glasgow has been able to eliminate waste to landfill, recycling 1,300 tonnes of waste each year.

Meanwhile in the public sector, social enterprise Changeworks was recognised for its sterling efforts in helping individuals and organisations improve the energy efficiency of their property and escape fuel poverty. During 2010–11, the charity helped to cut CO2 emissions in Scotland by more than 575,000 tonnes and diverted 5,700 tonnes of waste from landfill.

The awards also recognise the efforts of Scottish schools working to inspire the next generation with a greater understanding of what it means to live sustainably. Both award winners, Clachan Primary and Craighead Primary, not only embed environmental issues into the curriculum, but have installed renewable energy technologies. Clachan, one of the smallest schools in Scotland, even has its own orchard and polytunnel, supplementing schools meals.

While there are clearly financial incentives to improving fuel efficiency, generating their own electricity and cutting waste, for all of the awards’ finalists it was obviously not the main driver. Many of the winners, as they came up to accept their awards, made it clear that there was still more to do.

Glenn Bennett, managing director of EAE – winner of the best green SME award – even confessed that he wasn’t sure if his company’s ambition to become carbon neutral was even possible. “But if we keep trying continuously to improve maybe we can get there,” he said.

When you are lumbered with a government that appears to be dedicated to sticking safely to the middle of the pack, it is great to be reminded that there are individuals and organisations out there dedicated to trying to break new ground.

Do you agree? Why not start a discussion in the IEMA LinkedIn Group and have your say?


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

EU and UK citizens fear net-zero delivery deficit

Support for net zero remains high across the UK and the EU, but the majority of citizens don't believe that major emitters and governments will reach their climate targets in time.

16th May 2024

Read more

There is strong support for renewable energy as a source of economic growth among UK voters, particularly among those intending to switch their support for a political party.

16th May 2024

Read more

Despite cost-of-living concerns, four-fifths of shoppers are willing to pay more for sustainably produced or sourced goods, a global survey has found.

16th May 2024

Read more

One in five UK food businesses are not prepared for EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) coming into force in December, a new survey has uncovered.

16th May 2024

Read more

Each person in the UK throws a shocking 35 items of unwanted clothes and textiles into general waste every year on average, according to a new report from WRAP.

2nd May 2024

Read more

Taxing the extraction of fossil fuels in the world’s most advanced economies could raise $720bn (£575bn) by 2030 to support vulnerable countries facing climate damages, analysis has found.

2nd May 2024

Read more

The largest-ever research initiative of its kind has been launched this week to establish a benchmark for the private sector’s contribution to the UK’s 2050 net-zero target.

2nd May 2024

Read more

Weather-related damage to homes and businesses saw insurance claims hit a record high in the UK last year following a succession of storms.

18th April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close