Climate Week 2012 kicks off


Climate Week is back for its second year, and 2012 promises to be bigger and better, as the UK continues its push for a sustainable future.

Last year’s inaugural occasion attracted half a million people to over 3,000 events across Britain, each of which presented attendees with practical ways that they can contribute to the fight against climate change.

Supporters of the initiative include political figures David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, less likely names, such as Sir Paul McCartney, Stephen Merchant and Rory Bremner, as well as a plethora of organisations.

Tesco is the week’s lead sponsor, with EDF Energy, H&M, Soda Stream and most recently, Nissan, taking their places as supporting partners.

The announcement of the partnership with Nissan, which was made last month, came after the Royal Bank of Scotland cancelled its sponsorship of the event amidst claims of greenwash.

“It was clear to us that RBS’ sponsorship of Climate Week could only be greenwash when we looked at the kind of companies that they are providing finance for“, said Liz Murray, head of Scottish campaigns for the World Development Movement (WDM), after RBS pulled out in November last year.

“Our research showed, for example, that since public bail-out in 2008, RBS had raised more than £5.6 billion in finance for companies involved in carbon intensive Canadian tar sands projects, £2.2 billion of which was in the twelve months preceding Climate Week.”

The event’s decision to replace RBS with Nissan – and to again include EDF Energy as partners – is a strange one, given the generally unsustainable practices of both companies.

Nissan may have the Leaf, one of the most popular commercially-available electric cars, but it also has dozens of other, non-electric vehicles in its fleet.

EDF Energy, meanwhile, is part of the ‘big six’ – a sextet of energy providers that rule the roost in the UK market. Generating the vast majority of their power from finite, polluting sources, they are never far from controversy.

The five sponsors should therefore be seen as financial backers, rather than companies to lead a pilgrimage in sustainability.

Climate Week was set up by Kevin Steele, a campaigner on social and environmental issues for over 20 years.

“The threat of climate change is so catastrophic and the economic transformation required so great, that we have to involve every part of society”, wrote Steele, in an article for The Guardian before last year’s event.

“This includes large companies as well as charities, schools, public services, government and others.

“We cannot afford to waste precious time arguing about which organisations are sufficiently green to be allowed to take part in a movement for change.”

Steele’s rallying cry should echo across all industries; there is something to be said about his insistence on ignoring so-called ‘green’ credentials. As was revealed with RBS’ departure from the event, some companies are only in it to keep up appearances.

Between now and Sunday, there is plenty you can do to make a contribution. You can run an event of your own or find an event near your home through the Climate Week website. Have a look at this video, which documents last year’s occasion, for ideas.

Or if you fancy making an even bolder step, our friends at Good Energy, the UK’s only 100% renewable electricity supplier, have an offer in place until midnight on Sunday, in which you get £50 off your first bill with them if you quote ‘CLIMATEWEEK2012’. Visit their website for more details.

Related links:

Another greenwash revelation sees RBS pull its Climate Week sponsorship

UK needs to adapt to climate change risks