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Defra release oodles of statistics on sustainable development indicators

by Mel Starrs on August 2, 2006

in Publications & Standards


Defra have been busy – released this week are lots and lots of pretty graphs, facts and figures.  The pocket sized guide ‘Sustainable development indicators in your pocket‘ covering the 68 sustainable development indicators can be found here. Of particular interest to me were the indicators which have shown deterioration.  With the exception of aviation, robbery, childhood mortality and obesity, they are all addressed in some way by either BREEAM or EcoHomes.  This is encouraging (BREEAM is tackling the correct issues) but worrying (in that they are deteriorating – we obviously need to do more).

The seventeen measures showing deterioration since 1999 are specifically:

  • aviation emissions of greenhouse gases
  • electricity demand and fossil fuels used in electricity generation
  • nitrogen oxide emissions from electricity generation
  • carbon dioxide emissions from households through electricity and fuel use
  • carbon dioxide emissions from private vehicles
  • carbon dioxide emissions from road freight
  • energy supply (consumption exceeding UK production)
  • water loss through leakages
  • household waste arisings
  • ozone pollution in urban areas
  • extent of sensitive areas affected by excessive nitrogen from air pollution
  • robbery
  • infant mortality gap (socio-economic groups with highest and lowest rates)
  • childhood obesity
  • walking and cycling
  • children walking to school
  • households living in temporary accommodation

As I was battling with the M62 and listening to the radio this afternoon, Alistair McGowan was a guest on Steve Wright’s radio show, in the role of environmentalist, rather than impressionist.  I wasn’t aware that he supported the cause but his reason for becoming a spokeman stems back to an anecdote about drinking straws from the late 80’s.  What was good to hear was that Alistair wasn’t being treated as some raving sandal wearing tree hugging looney, but with respect and what seemed like genuine interest.  Even more interesting was the fact that the studio ‘posse’ seemed keen to learn how they could help.  You can hear the interview on the listen again facility for the next 7 days.

More and more these issues are entering the mainstream and the ‘tabloid’ consciousness of the nation.  Critical mass is building and soon we could find that the everyday vocabulary of the average joe on the street will include carbon emissions and they will know what this means.