Recycling 7 Cycling 2

Posted by chdot on February 5, 2007

Jack McConnell at start of Pedal for Scotland 2006. photo © Cycling Scotland

7 – 2 was the score (of mentions) in today’s Botanic Gardens Scottish Environment Week speech by First Minister Jack McConnell. (Full speech) Selected quotes –

“I’d like to reaffirm my commitment to the environment and to sustainable development – and to tell you how the environment fits into my overall vision for the kind of Scotland we are building.”

“I want to improve the opportunities, circumstances and life chances of people in every part of Scotland.”

“Ordinary Scots are growing more and more concerned about the impact their actions are having – they are thinking about the implications of their flights; they are recycling more and more; and they are thinking about energy consumption. There might just be a tipping point in terms of public opinion.”

“Our research tells us that over 80% of Scots agree that they will have to start making changes to their lifestyles to ensure a better quality of life for future generations.”

“Public transport now accounts for more than 70% of our total transport budget, and the result is that we are seeing a reduction in the number of car miles driven on Scotland’s roads. Two years ago, there were 150 million fewer car miles driven on our roads – the first fall since the 1970s.”

“Five years ago, 65 million journeys by train. Last year, 75 million.”

“But, sustainable development is about striking a balance – a balance between the needs of our economy, our society and our environment.”

“On aviation. My politics are about giving people the opportunities that they and their families have never had before. So, a rhetoric that implies that foreign travel should be the preserve of the wealthy is a non-starter. The aeroplane cannot be uninvented. But we can and will continue to support international action on both emissions trading and air fuel subsidy, so that the choices made are economically fair ones. And in the meantime we can lead by example on the most damaging short routes.”

“Eco-tourism is growing in value all the time. We now have the highest membership of Europe’s largest eco tourism accreditation scheme – and, with eco-tourism set to grow 10-15% each year, Scotland is well placed to become one of the most sustainable tourism destinations in Europe – a vision set out by Patricia Ferguson right here only last Thursday.”

“And we need to look at green networks and green spaces, to ensure that there are safe cycling and walking networks to all our schools and towns.”

“There are now School Travel co-ordinators in every local authority in Scotland, and there is a real momentum there to get more and more youngsters walking and using their bikes.”

“But barriers still remain. Too many parents and children aren’t yet confident enough to move away from their reliance on the car.”

“So we will need to do even more in the months and years ahead.”

Mr. McConnell is (or at least was) a member of Friends of the Earth Scotland and has been well advised on the ‘issues’. He is probably more ‘green’ than many in his own party – both in Scotland and the rest of the UK. It’s election year in Scotland, so he’s trying to walk a difficult (probably impossible) line between what he thinks voters want to hear and what they need to be told.

The Scottish Executive has recently given millions of pounds to Sustrans and Cycling Scotland to address some aspects of Cycle Training, work with schools and improve routes.

Listen out for a radio campaign, coming soon, trying to persuade parents not to drive their children to school.

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