A good day!
Did quite a bit in the garden and building a logpile on the left of the front door, looking out, visited Richard at Country Fresh and met a nice law student called Gita, who knew of me as 'Compost John' from discussions at the Students' allotment.
Spent quite a bit of time sorting out the stuff from there, loading up the big Compostumbler with shredded hedge and greengrocers' unsold goodies.
I had an early tea... an aubergine thrown out for no good reason, and some slices of 'nutolene' that Gill found in the loft, in tins from a Suma order years ago. They are dated best before sometime in 2008 but as far as I'm concerned, it's OK, and 5 hours later, I'm not dead. I sliced this and fried it on the stove, and made two 'burger' things with Foccacia rolls that Gilly bought, with broccoli, baked beans and some home-made coleslaw.
Then I went out to 'The Climate Connection' meeting organised by York and Ryedale Friends of the Earth at the Friends Meeting House in town. This was a meeting to give information about the path towards the vital Copenhagen talks next week, and a chance for York people to hear what some local decision makers think about it, and ask them questions.
My friend Kate Lock chaired, and the panel were Andreas Heinemeyer from the Stockholm Environment Institute, Andrew Waller who is the leader of the City of York Council, Hugh Bayley our MP, and Mike Childs from FoE. The format was that they each had a chance to say what they wanted and then faced a couple of questions before the next panellist came on. Then all four of them faced a 'Question Time' type situation.
Andreas presented his take on climate change, which as a scientist had plenty of facts and figures, but as a father, had a soft side too. I've seen him present this before and he's one of the best, very accessible and easy to listen to.
Andrew Waller had a slide show showing some of the ways which York is responding to the issues. He had just come back from the Leeds City Region Housing Strategy and learning that York is to have it's own 'Urban Eco Settlement' where the British Sugar site was. He had slides of the Eco Depot, built with straw and with an innovative automatic ventilation system, and the Clifton Moor Eco Business Centre built by The Helmsley Group. I didn't know that York has a Passivhaus, (here's a good pdf from Leeds Metropolitan University on the development) but I did know about Elm Tree Mews in New Earswick, six homes heated by one ground source heat pump and with other built-in innovations. He mentioned the Joseph Rowntree Housing Association's other eco-experiment (to-be) at Derwenthorpe, near Osbaldwick and a 1930's semi they've bought and are retrofitting to high ecological standards. Andrew then turned to the carbon emissions from Council activities and property, which they have promised to reduce by 25% by 2013 using a carbon management system. This includes a new school which is heated with wood pellets, and a campaign to get shops to keep their doors shut in cold weather, keeping the warmth in (but hopefully not the customers out!)
Hugh Bayley was on good form and he too was pleased about the 'Eco-District' to be built on the brown-field British Sugar site. I didn't make any more notes about what Hugh said, nor any from Mike Childs apart from he was talking about leadership and the power that ordinary people have to lobby our leaders. The Climate Change Act only got through because of the thousands of us pushing the Government into it.
The Question Time bit of the meeting was excellent, with a first question on population and another on economic growth. I asked if any of the panel had measured their carbon footprint and which calculator they'd used. Mike said he had done his but had forgotten what the figure was, and that he 'was doing enough'; Andreas said he'd done lots of them and they all came up with different figures, but as he refused to fly, he was pleasantly surprised how low it was, Hugh admitted it was something he was going to have to do, to be able to say whether he manages his personal 10:10 pledge, and Andrew also didn't give a figure. Kate was the only one who knew her CO2e footprint had dropped from 16 tonnes to 12 over the 2 years she was writing her book. I suggested that people try The Carbon Account as it was so easy and visual. It actually doesn't matter which one you use... what's important is that people measure it now, make changes, and use the same calculator again to see the changes. Kate added some information about the Green Streets Challenge which she is involved with (door knocking!) and there were further questions about the Local Transport Plan and a complicated one about outcomes and policy.
All together it was a packed evening, with lots of information and I really enjoyed it.
I didn't hang around for too long, and was home by 10pm. I read Gill my notes and then typed up my blog whilst listening to music on BBC 2 and then Channel 4.