A Low Carbon Transport Week

This week I had the opportunity to participate in a couple of low carbon transport events. The first was at an event called Green Monday run by 2Degrees. Then on Wednesday, I had the opportunity of participating in Mobility 2020 which was run by the Sustainable Development Commission. I thought it would be good to mention some of the items that were discussed. Part of both discussions focused around barries and problems to achieve reduced carbon emissions in the UK Carbon Sector. Some of the comments that arose from these discussions were as follows:

· Incentivising customers: There continues to be a lack of broad consumer awareness about environmental issues, which can also be hampered by a feeling that there is little that an individual can do to improve the situation. The environment is not sufficient of a motivator to get wide spread support – other incentives are needed, particularly financial and status.

· There is a need to provide solutions that are safe, reliable and meet the convenience requirements of customers.

· There are a range of potentially complimentary service offerings and technologies that can advance the cause of sustainability, but they are somewhat fragmented – potentially this is something that can be quite rapidly overcome.

· There are a lack of common standards across IT systems – can telematic devices invalidate warranties; is it possible to share information across systems?

· Difficult to get long term government commitments when franchise operations (eg. rail franchises) have a limited life span – where is the incentive for companies to develop long term sustainability goals when they run the risk of loosing the franchises.

· Is there a fundamental issue around reporting of grams per vehicle per kilometre – shouldn’t it incorporate the number of people actually travelling?

· Is there an aspirational goal for low income groups to own cars? If so, does this conflict with sustainability efforts?

· There will continue to be a percentage of people that are structurally dependent on cars – eg. people in rural areas.

· Do the costs of public transport or potentially bad experiences reduce people’s willingness to use more sustainable forms of transport?

· It was also highlighted that there are some transport services that may have significant structural issues with becoming more sustainable due to security reasons or energy requirements.

In other news, I got to meet with the guys from AMEE today (Against Mass Extinction Engine) – very cool business that they are working on; and hopefully GoLow will do something with them when the time is right. And now to send in a submission to Greenbang for the piece they are doing on startups!

End of June and Exciting Times ahead in July

Yet again, I realise that it has been way too long since my last post…

Our event with Firebird and the Moldovan Embassy went well (almost sounds like the name of a Harry Potter book), although to be honest, we had a few too many people there. It had been a slightly tough issue as we had initially planned for 50 maximum, but in the end we had over 150 at the event.

The EYP team at the Moldovan Wine EventHere is a great picture of our team (or rather part of it) with David from HBJ Wines, our corporate wine partner, and Gheorghe, the First Consul of the Moldovan Embassy. I was really pleasantly surprised with the wine and actually used the Firebird Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at an army function on Friday night and it was very well received.

On Sunday, the team got together to start finalising our strategic plan for the next year and beyond, which should see EYP expand beyond the UK (and Thailand) into other countries. It is very much like a start up business (or perhaps a start up social enterprise), and what we are doing in London is the concept demonstration of what we want to roll out elsewhere. We have now finalised our venue for our July get together which should be lots of fun (it has a nautical element to it)…

On the evening of 18 June, I went along to the first birthday of Greenbang, which is a very cool news site focused on environmental business and technology. It was a fantastic evening and there were a lot of cool people there; the readership also has a great number of entrepreneurs in it so it is particularly encouraging to see the innovative approaches people are taking to solving some of the big environmental and sustainability issues that we face around the world. It is always interesting to consider the new business ‘environment’ that I am in which has a heavy environment focus (pardon the pun). As a military, conservative voting, capitalist type of person, there may be some sense that I am now doing something that is rather incongruous with my persona. Some of the military blogs I read are certainly dismissive of the environment – however I think that it is a dire error on behalf of military people to ignore the potential environmental issues that the world faces. Whether it is a humanitarian crisis due to starvation or flooding, or indeed a need to secure natural resources, there are a large number of scenarios where military force will be involved in environmental concerns in coming years. And I also sense that it is business that really is showing the way in terms of finding ways to become more sustainable (and I think this is borne out by evidence as well).