Almost 200 nations have just agreed to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than two degrees centigrade – but how are we going to achieve this?
We know we need to slash carbon emissions, but measures like national (and international) caps and taxes only go so far. What we need is ambitious action at a local level. So, what might this look like in terms of our daily lives?
Road transport accounts for nearly a quarter of the UK’s CO2 emissions, so one key measure has to be a reduction in the use of fossil fuelled vehicles. And tighter urban planning controls are also needed to create communities through mixed land use, offering a better combination of transport options and reducing the need to travel.
It sounds ambitious, but here in Waltham Forest, we are half way through a three year programme which aims to achieve just that. What is truly revolutionary about Mini Holland is that it is tackling relentless trends in urban areas that both national and local governments have seemingly been unable to reverse: congestion, air pollution, traffic danger and obesity related disease … not to mention CO2 emissions.
Mini Holland is about introducing measures that will make car use a little less convenient, and our streets safer and more attractive for alternative means of travel.
One benefit of the resulting increase in localised travel patterns is that residents spend more in the local economy. But it’s also an opportunity to rebuild communities devastated by uncontrolled car use, reducing the need for parents to escort children to tightly managed activities and offering instead the possibility of developing their confidence, resilience and social skills through more unstructured outdoor experiences.
Transforming how we perceive and use our streets means facing up to unpopular truths. Many of us in the western world must make big changes in how we live, so we tread more lightly on our over-stressed planet. And in Waltham Forest we are taking a big step in the right direction.