It's not all about the carbon
Reducing carbon emissions is important but we must take care not to allow it to blind us to the importance of the rest of the sustainability agenda.
Mr McManners warned against slavishly following the carbon agenda at the expense of broader issues.
He illustrated his point with the example of a local authority that had invested millions in converting part of its bus fleet to ethanol, riding the early wave of popularity for biofuels, and had recently been force to convert them back to diesel.
"If you're not careful you can be trapped down a dead end," he said.
"Focusing on carbon can give a dangerously narrow response. The sustainability agenda is much broader."
He said that business, politicians and the public needed to be more aware of the scale of change thagt would be required in the transition to a truly sustainable society.
"The whole structure of some industries is going to change," he said.
"And if they don't read these changes correctly a lot of businesses won't survive."
There is some reason for optimism, he said, arguing that solutions already exist, we just need to demonstrate the will to adopt them.
"We have the technologies we need," said Mr McManners.
"We don't need to invent silver bullets."
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