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ANOTHER (Christmas) PLANET

As the UK’s big freeze continues, with widespread disruption on the roads and at airports, the Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has indicated that the recent run of harsh winters has prompted him to review government planning for snow and ice on the grounds that current plans are based on the philosophy that  ‘hard winters happen so rarely’ . He is also going to ask  the government’s chief scientific officer to advise “whether what we are seeing over the last three years represents a step change in climate patters’.

The UK is expecting to have one of  its coldest night on record on December 20th, with many areas facing temperatures below -15C and the temperature  may drop to -26C according to forecasters.

I was in a Cotswold outdoor shop the other day (buying gloves and a fleece!) and noticed that the front doors were wide open with hot air pumping out onto the street and cold blowing in. When a customer suggested the doors might be shut, they were politely advised by the shivering girl on the till that company policy was to leave doors open. Now research by the Times newspaper seems to suggest that Cotswold are not alone – shops like Next, French Connection and Waterstones all have told staff to leave doors open even on the coldest days. The Times sent out a camera with thermal imaging and found that in one of London’s main shopping streets, other stores including Gap, Monsoon, The Body Shop, Superdrug and Topshop also left front doors wide open – often increasing the heat loss by having an ‘air curtain’ over the doors – where heated air is pumped down, enticing cold cusmers in – but creating massive energy waste. A study by Cambridge University showed that the policy would double a shop’s energy use. UK Retailers generate 24 Million tonnes of CO2 each year.  The pressure group ‘Close the Door’  is  asking retailers to change their policies. Me – Apart from being environmentally irresponsible, I am beginning to wonder how much open doors cost the shops – and thus the customer – ie me – and why I should pay!

The Mayor of Paris is introducing a new range of electric cars that can be hired for as littkle as E5. Autolib will have 3,000 electric cars stationed around Paris for subscribers to use, and the ‘Blue Car’ will take up to four passengers with costs from E5 for half an hour.  The vehicles will be exquipped with SatNav, can reach up to 130 km/h (80mph) and can travel for 250 km without recharging.  The car will take four hours to recharge. The scheme is aimed to reduce parking problems, traffic jams and pollution. The Mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, hope the scheme will be as successful as his bike hire scheme, Velib, which now has  16,000 bikes  available to over 200,000  annual subscibers.

Finally can we wish a HAPPY CHRISTMAS to all who celebrate at this time of year or however they celebrate, and can we wish everyone a happy, healthy and green 2011!

Ben, Claire, Helen and Luke.

Photo  Ben – a Christmas 2010 photo taken on December 19th.