Carbon Busting

26 10 2008 (click image to link)

The most recent publication from Godo Stoyke of Carbon Busters.

Our most recent staff meeting had an interesting presenter: Godo Stoyke of Carbon Busters. Godo is an environmental crusader par excellence. His presentation was humorous and intelligent, offering all sorts of ideas on how to shrink your carbon footprint and expand your bank account balance in the process.

I was glad to see the issue of climate change being brought into our boardroom. We tend to deal with it peripherally but not directly. We sometimes argue in favor of good planning choices on the basis of their contributions to the fight against climate change (improving public transit, increasing urban densities) but rarely do we argue against poor planning decisions for the same reasons (approval of automobile-dependent neighborhoods and subdivisions). We seem to have gotten the concept in general, but lose focus when it comes to specifics.

There is still very little sense of urgency over climate change. A year ago, Canadians overwhelmingly identified climate change and what to do about it as their top priority, yet it was not a pivotal issue by the time the most recent federal election came around; between then and now it somehow dropped off the map again. In the US, climate change has gained a lot of profile since Al Gore’s documentary, and one might think that it would have emerged as an important issue in the Presidential race, but it has instead been almost entirely absent. Municipally, it seems that there is plenty of lip-service given to climate change, but sometimes all that talk amounts to is baby steps like the purchase of hybrid fleet vehicles, and not an overall rethinking of what we legislate and how we perform governmental functions.

Planners are in a good position to advocate strongly in favor of decisions that lead to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. And those decisions can be sold, at least partly, on their benefits to the budget (energy cost savings, reductions in infrastructure requirements). But it doesn’t seem like we can just wait for politicians to lead the way. I’d like to have some cities to plan for 30 years from now.




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