Politicians issued carbon footprint challenge

Most of us look to others for leadership and politicians, love them or hate them, are often among that group.

It’s all well and good for our elected leaders to tsk, tsk about issues affecting the environment, cut ribbons on solar farms or implement legislation for reducing plastic bags; but what are these folks doing in their own lives to reflect their “business hours” approach to the environment?

Nobody’s perfect and we have all read stories about celebrities and politicians falling victim to the demons of hyperconsumption, however as role models and elected representatives of the people we tend to expect more from politicians – and rightly so.

In Australia, that pressure on politicians has been cranked up a notch with Do Something!’s “10 per cent in 2010” campaign.

It’s about everyone taking measures to reduce their carbon footprint by 10% during this year; a more “bottom up” approach to addressing climate change which is becoming increasingly necessary – particularly after the dismal failure of our leaders at the Copenhagen climate conference.

As part of the initiative, the man behind the campaign and founder of Planet Ark, John Dee, is going to be putting Australian Members of Parliament and Senators on the spot in the next couple of days.

Mr Dee will be sending questions to every MP and senator in Australia asking them about their own energy and water consumption. He is also issuing them a challenge to participate in the “10 per cent in 2010” initiative.

I’m assuming the results will be made public and that being the case, it’s a clever move. Those politicians who don’t respond to the questions must know that it could be translated by the voting population to mean they eat dolphins, have their home lit up like Xmas trees 24/7 and drive poorly maintained Hummers to get to the store :).

Some politicians have realized this I think, having jumped the gun and gotten behind the initiative already by pledging to reduce their footprint. More power to them. One of them includes the New South Wales Premier Kristina Keneally, who incidentally was born in Las Vegas, Nevada and grew up in Toledo, Ohio.

I’m not sure if this sort of campaign has been tried elsewhere – but if not, it could be a good initiative in your own country or state! It doesn’t have to be confined to politicians, but to any group considered role models in our society. People with a high profile in the media exert a lot of influence and by more of them “going green”, that will help encourage others to do the same.