Algae, local food and cycling to transform 21st century living

The Sustainable Development Commission has unveiled 19 'breakthrough ideas' that it believes have the most potential to revolutionise the way we live in the UK while reducing our environmental impact.

Groups and individuals were invited to put forward ideas to transform Britain into a sustainable society.

Almost 300 were submitted by businesses, academics, sustainability professionals and the general public, resulting in a 19-strong shortlist.

They were announced at a high profile event in London this week where SDC chairman Jonathon Porritt used his speech to criticise the Treasury and the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform for dragging their heels and slowing national progress towards sustainability.

“Progress on sustainable development, at the national level, has been slow,” he said.

“Yet all over the country, there are people taking action to make their own communities more sustainable, driving forward technological innovations, and pushing the policy agenda with really big ideas.

“Some of the breakthrough ideas we’ve selected represent cutting-edge innovation and imagination; others are familiar but powerful ideas whose time has come.

“We wanted to celebrate the hard work behind these ideas, and start a bigger conversation about how the UK can best take these – and a host of other great ideas – forward.

“We’ve been talking about it for long enough. What we’ve got to do now is make it happen.”

Among the 19 ideas selected as representing potential breakthroughs were:

  • From ‘Pre-Pay’ to ‘Pay-As-You-Save’ – Financing home energy efficiency measures through an innovative system where householders pay for improvements through consequent energy savings
  • Incredible Edible Communities- an exsiting project pioneered in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, to increase the amount of local food grown and eaten within the community
  • Cap and Share; Suppliers of fossil fuels to buy permits for their greenhouse gas emissions before selling the fuel, with the proceeds shared between all citizens, who have the choice of whether or not to sell their permits
  • The Royal Bank of Sustainability; Transforming the bank most closely associated with the oil and gas industry – now publicly owned – into one which invest in projects to halt the effects of climate change
  • Algae and carbon capture; using fast-growing algae to absorb the CO2 given off by the industrial burning of fossil fuels
  • Making cycling mainstream; making the bike the normal choice for journeys of up to five miles
  • Sam Bond

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