Founder of Climate Week warns of environmental tipping point

The founder of Climate Week, Kevin Steele, explains how climate change is at a 'tipping point' and the actions needed to stop it.

Research released earlier this month by Climate Week found that four out of five people are motivated to take action on climate change and believe that even one person can make a difference, by Kevin Steele, founder of Climate Week.

However the research also found people are unwilling to take action on climate change because they think nobody else is doing anything.

In other words, people believe they can make a difference, but only if they are taking their own action alongside many others.

This is a classic tipping-point situation - climate change is widely recognised as the greatest threat faced by humanity, a huge number of people truly want to do their bit to combat it, but need to feel that they are not alone.

In practice what they see around them is business as usual - even though in reality, huge numbers of people and organisations in every part of society are doing things in new, low-carbon ways. It is just that these positive steps - both the dramatic innovations and the incremental changes - are too often below the radar for most of us.

As the former US Vice President and Nobel prize-winner Al Gore puts it: "it is now abundantly clear that we have at our fingertips all of the tools we need to solve the climate crisis. The only missing ingredient is collective will."

So our best chance of saving the planet from catastrophic environmental damage is to show people what is already being done.

If you think you're doing something a bit special that deserves wide attention, you can enter the Climate Week Awards - judged by people such as the environmental advisors to Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Prince of Wales.

Climate Week, on 21-27 March 2011, is about bringing that kind of work to a wider audience, with thousands of organisations across the UK running events and activities. Some will be showcasing what they have done, some will profile other people's work that they admire, while some will simply start a discussion about what might be possible. They will all be joining a social movement that aims, for one week in the year, to paint a picture of what a low-carbon society could look like.

It may be alien to the British character to shout about what we're doing or to badger others into doing something differently. However, we're going to have to shed our natural reserve if we want to see results in reducing our carbon emissions.

Even if your organisation has taken only the very first steps on a low-carbon path, perhaps by saving energy, recycling or buying from sustainable suppliers, it is precisely these kinds of simple, practical initial steps that will inspire other organisations to do likewise. So please do run some kind of activity for Climate Week - something that will communicate what you are doing to the audiences that matter most to you - whether this is your staff, customers, the media or the wider public.

You'll be in good company, because Climate Week is backed by everyone from the Prime Minister to Paul McCartney, from the National Trust and the Met Office to the CBI, the Environment Agency and the National Association of Head Teachers.

Climate Week is also supported by some of the biggest businesses in the UK - all of whom are serious about tackling their climate change impact.

Our Headline Partner, Tesco aims to become a zero-carbon business by 2050 - without purchasing offsets. In addition it has committed to work with its suppliers to reduce emissions from products in its supply chain by 30% by 2020, and to have found ways to help its customers halve their own carbon footprints by 2020.

Our Supporting Partners, in sectors ranging from food and energy to insurance and financial services, are also taking committed action. Aviva was the first insurer to be carbon neutral worldwide, EDF Energy is Britain's largest producer of low carbon electricity, Kelloggs is reducing greenhouse emissions 15-20% per tonne of food and RBS has the best rating from the Carbon Disclosure Project of any UK bank.

All of these are committed not just to taking action but to sharing the news with their customers and employees.

Those who might doubt the impact that a themed week can have should look at Global Entrepreneurship Week, which we founded to encourage people to turn their ideas into reality. Last year it involved 40,000 events in over 100 countries attended by 10 million people.

However, it's not just the big names that are making a difference. Former journalist Garry Charnock founded Carbon Leapfrog, which operates like a match-making service for community initiatives and companies interested in providing environmental resources and expertise. He was moved to do this due the struggles he had setting up a renewable energy supply for his village.

We want to challenge all organisations which are doing something to enhance their environmental sustainability, to profile it during Climate Week. If you also enter for the Climate Week Awards and are shortlisted, we will shout for you. Don't be modest - the future of our planet depends on you.

www.climateweek.com/awards

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