The building blocks needed to prevent climate catastrophe

Como siempre, George Monbiot hits the nail on the head with his article emphasising the need to reduce building, especially roads that just exacerbate climate degradation (We can’t build our way out of the environmental crisis, 1 septiembre). In particular, we all need to use less of everything and adopt the lifestyle mantra that “less is more”.

This is essential to reverse the vast number of lifestyle items that we have been persuaded to adopt over the past 20-30 años. These range from water sold to us in plastic bottles, to the “need” to travel further, faster, and in greater comfort. With a small amount of willpower, it is quite easy to adopt a slower, less carbon-intensive and more rewarding lifestyle. It remains an uphill struggle to convince others to follow suit and help bring about the “levelling up” needed to avoid further climate catastrophes.
Dr Michael Symonds
Sutton Bonington, Leicestershire

George Monbiot and Rob Loveday (Letras, 31 agosto) touch upon the same theme from opposite directions, reminding me of the 1950s proposal for a Ministry of Thatching. We can compare our progress towards zero carbon and sustainability with Germany, where since 2006, 5% of houses a year are being retrofitted to a zero-carbon standard (siguiendo un estricto marco legal disciplinario). The driver for this is that pound for pound, reducing energy waste is quicker and more efficient than any new generating system. Since most domestic heating comes from gas, this would help towards the UK’s 2030 emissions target. The present UK figure for zero-energy housing is under 4%, and at 200,000 new houses a year, it will take more than 100 years to match Germany in 2026.

As the “Strong Towns” movement shows, new infrastructure, no matter how it is justified, helps make us poorer, since we cannot afford to maintain it – witness the potholed roads everywhere. In terms of travel, cars still dominate, yet most journeys are short and made in towns, cual HS2 cannot address. Long journeys make up less than 2% of all UK travel.

Many urban car trips can be attracted to rail, y, as Monbiot proposes, trams giving 90% of the benefit of an underground line at 10% of the cost are one of few infrastructure investments that, by attracting trips that would otherwise be made by car, will reduce carbon and urban pollution.
Prof Lewis Lesley

I agree with George Monbiot that environmental change cannot be delivered by technological innovation alone. It needs to be accompanied by social change: travelling less, as well as travelling better, por ejemplo. My suggestion is a revolution in car use.

I propose a drastic reduction in the ownership and use of private cars, in favour of a greatly increased and coordinated taxi service. The development of electric and automated vehicles would make this easier. It need not be seen as sacrifice: how would readers appreciate the reduction in traffic in our towns and cities, the drop in noise and air pollution, the financial benefit of no car ownership and maintenance, the reduced road traffic accidents, and no parking or breakdown worries? Just sit back and relax. No need to learn to drive even for many of us, quizás.

I know that we would need to make major adjustments to accommodate longer trips and holiday travel, but we manage to do this when we go abroad, so why not at home too?
Anne Gray
cachemir, Renfrewshire

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