(posted to blog at 11am)
I went with Rob Gibson MSP and Alastair Macfie, our committee Clerk, to the Climate Change Forum and a few other events. We had an opportunity to speak to people from other countries to hear their concerns and plans to combat climate change. From farmers from rural Argentine to folk from small organisations with real vision and hope for the future.
In spite of cold and heavy snow we made our way to meet the national cycling organisation. They told us about the work being done in kindergarten with children to teach them to cycle, using small bikes without pedals to help them with balance, and teaching them safety awareness to prepare them for the future. Learning through play was the ethos throughout.
We went on to meet representatives of the local council. They told us that a third of Copenhagen folk cycled to work, and about the involvement of communities in the development of new cycle routes. 90,000 tonnes of CO2 are being saved annually compared to people travelling the same distance by car. The state government has made large amounts available for local authorities to develop infrastructure – real money to make a real difference.
The Danish Ministry for Transport says that “for the period 2009-2014, the Danish government will allocate 1 billion Dkk (US$ 180 million / € 133 million) to improve conditions for bicyclists and make the bicycle an even more attractive means of transportation. Considering that the population of Denmark is 5,3 million, this is a considerable amount of money. In the United States with a population of approximately 300 million, the comparable amount of money allocated would be US$ 10.8 billion / € 8 billion.
“The government’s policy is targeted at providing financial support for coherent and innovative bicycle projects in cities and towns, enterprises and organizations, which significantly contribute to developing local bicycle traffic, including bicycle commuting. The objective is to create a number of cycle cities and cycle towns.
“Specifically, the government will help fund these projects with 30 per cent of the total cost, and in special circumstances 50 per cent if the project contains considerable innovative elements. The possibility of partial government funding creates a basis for investments in bicycle projects at a total amount of 2 bil-lion Dkk (US$ 360 million) for the period 2009-2014. This should contribute to reducing road congestion in urban areas, improve public health and the environment, and not least reduce CO2 emissions in Denmark.”
The visits were well worth the walk through the heavy snow.
The conference talk is still of stalemate. Poorer countries have been told of the importance of making changes but not to expect enough money right now to make these changes. The word is that as usual in talks these days the UK government are much more supportive towards the poorer countries. The talks continue with world leaders gathering here for the last few days, while the world watches and hopes for a positive outcome.
For me, it’s back out into the snow, back to the climate change forum. I hope Patrick and Graeme get into the centre today.