Issue 10 : 4 May 2006  

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Welcome to Communiqué 10 – a spring green issue.

Spring has sprung. There is a time and a tide, and if you ask me, the tide has turned! In this post oil-addict world, everyone is finding joy on a lower carbon dose.

A warm welcome to all you new subscribers. There’s been another explosion in numbers. This is a strong community of people in action. Thank you for joining, and for believing that we can all have lots of fun – and save lots of money – in this post-carbon world.

In this issue:

Greener than thou: our aspiring leaders compete to be greenest
Inconvenient truth: don’t miss Al Gore’s challenging new film
Top celebrities help to launch a new, greener Vanity Fair!
Come Off It: we did – did you? Two new dates for your diary
Mission possible 10: new ways to shave a slice off your carbon footprint


Hello Dave, Gordon, Ming and John… gotta new motor?

Have you noticed the race to be greenest that’s going on among our would-be leaders? It’s enough to make anyone see green!

The press is getting smarter, and beginning to suss out watt’s watt. Learning to tell tons of carbon from kilos of CO2. Increasingly, knowing your carbon footprint – what it’s made up of, and being able to defend it – is becoming an important aspect of reputation management.

On 10 April The Independent published the letter below:

Sir Menzies should use his car sparingly

Sir: Martin Styles (Letters, 8 April) is right to defend Sir Menzies Campbell's right to keep his old Jaguar, but not to clock up high mileages in it. Over the lifetime (say 200,000 cherished miles?) of a nice old Jag that does 20mpg, it will turn 40 tonnes of precious petrol (30 times the car's own weight) into 100 tonnes of harmful CO2. Large numbers of new cars could be made with this massive lifecycle appetite for energy.

The Toyota Prius that Mr Styles mentions requires a third less petrol over its life, and produces one-third the greenhouse gas. That's progress. It's a popular myth that conserving old gas-guzzling habits is somehow more eco-friendly than stepping out into the low-carbon economy. Of the three main party leaders, only David Cameron and his bike seem to show any real will to lead by example.


Just two days later the papers announced Sir Ming had sold his Jag!

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Al Gore – the real US leader

Check out the Climate Crisis website to keep track of Al Gore’s amazing new leadership and new film, An Inconvenient Truth.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him NOT understanding it." Upton Sinclair

(Taken from the Climate Crisis website for Al Gore's film.)

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Green chic

It’s official: green is the ONLY colour to be seen in! May’s ‘green issue’ of Vanity Fair represents the start of “an increased commitment to reporting on the threat to our precious environment,” according to editor Graydon Carter. And big names are standing up to be counted for their eco passion: the cover of the magazine featured Robert F Kennedy Jr, Al Gore, Julia Roberts, and George Clooney.

For their 50 ways to help save the planet, visit the Vanity Fair website.

We are all copying each other’s carbon consciousness. This is exactly whatt’s meant to be! It’s one fine fashion we should all be followers of: a viral trend that will heal the world.

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Play the Climate Change Pentathlon

A wonderful game for you to share with children/friends and release some green tensions!

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Come Off It day was a small but perfectly formed success

Thousands took part in the first ever Come Off It (COI) day on 4 April, and enjoyed doing so.
The day fitted well among the other breaking waves of the turning tide.

Though the establishment media generally chose (disappointingly) not to mention COI day, online publicity was strong and the message spread like wild fire. I am so, so grateful for the depth and breadth (and warmth) of support. And so glad we all just did it!

It was thrilling to watch the list of supporters grow. In the end we got the backing of Nicky Gavron, Colin Challen, Aubrey Meyer, and… we so nearly got Al Gore too! ‘Those in power’ lost a few pounds of income that day. Actually, quite a few £10,000s of income! The money saved was fairly distributed among COI day participants, in accordance with their actions on the day. Several £100,000s more will be recouped by the energy efficient light bulbs you planted. Robin Hood would be proud!

We sent a signal. A purple puff! Everyone who took part agreed it felt mighty good. People have been asking me for the result – the score. The short answer is, I don’t know.

What I do know...

I know energy efficient light bulb sales are up. I know that each bulb ‘planted’ will save more than £20 over its lifetime. I know that calls to ban the old tungsten bulb are gaining momentum. I know that many people played an active part. I know an amazing number of networks helped spread the word. Type ‘Come Off It day’ into a search engine and see for yourself how many. I know that many groups led from the front that day.

I also know we made no discernible difference to the National Grid power demand that day! Sorry. We pedalled like mad but didn’t quite get the national bulb to glow brightly. But we will. Next time we will!

4 August 2006 will be Come Off It day 2
A great suggestion from Candy Spillard is we might extend Come Off It into offices and urge a trim down of the air con that day: OFF-ICE!

4 December 2006 will be Come Off It day 3
This one will be the crescendo of 2006. Crucially it will be during term time.

So: 4/4, 4/8 and 4/12. It’s clear we need lots of practice. The fourth will be with us!

See the final list of supporters at

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Smiles raised

I was commissioned by the DfES (Department for Education and Skills) to give a 'sustainable' after-dinner speech for delegates attending the One School Pathfinder conference just after Easter. The venue – the National College for School Leadership, on the award-winning Jubilee Campus in Nottingham – is both innovative and inspirational. Designed by Michael Hopkins and Arup, the campus is pretty low-carbon.  
Climate catastrophe and humour make odd bedfellows, but I like to think that both Rachel Carson and Bob Monkhouse might have been proud of me!
My good friend the one-metre diameter purple balloon was a huge hit with delegates and the evening went off without a bang.

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The cutting edge debate, 3 May

History in the making last night. The Edge Debate ( featured my hero Aubrey Meyer (Global Commons Institute) and Lord Oxburgh (former Shell Chairman).  A large and diverse audience of senior figures pledged to make contraction and convergence the central issue in our institutions and in all we do. In my opinion C&C is the only game in town: it's perfect. The debate brochure is downloadable via the link below.

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As well as helping to publicise Come Off It day, MSN are leading from the front with their new carbon calculator and top ten tips:

Your mission is to re-calculate your own footprint, and to persuade your friends to check theirs. You should be starting to notice a pattern: is the biggest chunk becoming clear?
Is it air travel, car miles, or fuel for heating? Only you know.

Having measured up, the time has come for trimming off a slice of carbon. The obvious place to look for savings is the area that is currently biggest.

If it’s air travel don’t panic, just savour your new found awareness. If you fly a lot then you have a lot of potential purple balloon savings to offer the world. How many air-hours do you average over the past three years? Set yourself a target to reduce this progressively over the next three years. It’s a free world, but you might find new joy in reducing this chunk of your footprint without grounding yourself. And remember – soon being a frequent flyer won’t be so cool.

If it’s car miles, again, don’t panic. Create a three-year plan. This may include a new, more fuel-efficient car, a reduction in annual mileage, or a pledge to drive more economically. Work out what you can happily change. Save yourself £400 for every 400kg of petrol you avoid burning, and every 1,000kg of CO2 avoided. MSN’s list of the top 10 greenest cars can achieve 70mph using fuel at the same rate some ‘dinosaur’ cars use it at just 30mph!

If your biggest chunk is fuel for heating, chances are you need to start thinking of a mini eco-refurb. Insulation, double glazing, draught stripping, and perhaps a new super-efficient boiler. The first step is to look at how you can reduce your need for heat:

The cost-free, temporary solution, of course, is extra layers. If you’re walking around your house in winter wearing just a T-shirt, look no further!


Whatever you buy, whenever you buy it, ask questions about how much energy the item will use. Always choose A-rated electrical goods, where the label exists. If it doesn’t, ask how it ranks against the competition on energy use. If everyone asks this question for every item they purchase in 2006, it will cease to be an odd question!


You probably know my good friend and companion, the big (one-metre diameter) purple balloon (representing what just 1kg of pure CO2 would look like if we could see it).

I’ve had a breakthrough. Stop seeing these purple balloons as the problem, and start to see them as the solution. I love purple balloons! We love purple balloons!

Each perfectly formed purple sphere (you can get your arms around them to hug them) is beautiful. They are how we make a difference, how we make it count.

So stop counting all the balloons that you can’t influence (yet), and start rejoicing in – and counting – the balloons you can save. Every one makes a difference.

One year from now, if you’ve trimmed one tonne off your footprint, that’s a 1,000-balloon party you can celebrate!

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Tackling the reasons we use to justify our inaction

Many of these myths have been around for years, and it’s a wonder they’ve become so credible with so little basis in fact. But remember: in whose interest is it that we believe them?


"It is cheaper, overall, to leave the lights on."

NOT TRUE! It's just better for the electricity company, who will make more money out of you.

"The ‘embodied-energy’ of a new light bulb (the energy and CO2 that went into making it) is more than the energy it saves over its life time."

NOT TRUE! Compared to the energy gobbled up and CO2 released during its long, bright lifetime, the energy involved in the manufacture is small.

"Clean burn engines are far better for the environment."

NOT TRUE! Don’t be fooled by the expression ‘clean burn’. For example, LPG may be very clean, but it’s only slightly better than petrol for CO2 emissions. Some manufacturers stress how clean their exhaust is, and neglect to mention CO2 at all.

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Thanks for reading. Do let me know what you liked least and most – feedback is great!

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Read previous issues of Communiqué

Until soon

Dave Hampton
The Carbon Coach



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