Is climate change week a load of hot air?

21st March 2011

Climate Change Week has kicked off with a series of activities in the UK and around the world to mark initiatives which claim to be making a real difference to the way companies and consumers can have a positive impact on the environment.

But many commentators are concerned that the business-backed week of low-carbon events and awards is a contradition.

The Guardian reports that there are thousands of activities taking place around the UK, from an upcycling fashion event led by Elena Garcia to an interfaith gathering at Lambeth palace. 

Climate Week's chief executive Kevin Steele told the Guardian that the week would "showcase the solutions that will enable us to combat climate change … and inspire action by many thousands of people during the other 51 weeks of the year."

It reports: "The launch, in the very grand Lancaster House and under the gaze of regal portraits, had a video message from the Prime Minister in which he repeated his "greenest government ever" pledge. Others who have lent their names range from Al Gore to Paul McCartney."

But the Guardian also reports that the event is bankrolled by corporate sponsors, led by Tesco, who were rewarded by the Prime Minister repeating their "Every little helps" slogan in the context of cutting carbon. Other lead sponsors include the Royal Bank of Scotland, EDF energy, Aviva and Kelloggs. A small group of protesters outside the event sang and danced about RBS's large fossil fuel investments.

Kevin Smith, from Platform, said "We like Climate Week, we like climate action. But we think it is hypocritical to have RBS as a sponsor and possibly counter-productive in the long run."

Three of the four nominees for the Climate Week prize for Most Inspirational Young Person also objected to RBS's sponsorship. Ellie Hopkins, Niel Bowerman and Tom Youngman said: "As young people deeply concerned by climate change, we support the Climate Week initiative. However we believe Climate Week's choice of sponsors seriously undermines its aims.

One area where climate change appears to be embraced 'for all the right reason is within the socially repsonsible investment (SRI) arena.

Financial consultancy Celent predicts that the socially responsible investments (SRIs) market in the US will reach $3 trillion this year. The European SRI market already grew from  Euro 1 trillion in 2005 to Euro 1.6 trillion in 2007.

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