A round-up of the most interesting/eye-catching/bizarre/worrying/confusing numbers, stats, comments


and pics from my experience of the last day or so of the Green Week conference before it all wraps up on Friday afternoon.

Number crunching

There have been lots of eye-opening/-watering figures flying around the climate change conference here in Brussels, here are just a few…

  • To be in with a fighting chance of limiting global warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, total CO2 emissions for 2000-2050 must not exceed 1 trillion tonnes. Unfortunately, in the last nine years, we have already used up one third of that CO2 budget.
    Malte Meinshausen, Potsdam Institute for Climate Change Research

  • Buying books online is better for the environment! Apparently ordering your reading material over the internet and getting it delivered has an ‘8.3 times advantage’ over going by car and ‘2.8 times advantage’ over taking the bus in terms of carbon footprint*.
    Alan McKinnon, Logistics Research Centre UK

  • The energy yield from an area of land covered with photovoltaic cells will be about 200 times greater than the same area covered with crops for biomass.
    Herbert Giradet, World Future Council

  • In 1950, the average Briton travelled 5 miles a day. Now, we travel around 30 miles a day and by 2025 this is like to have doubled.
    John Adams, University College London

  • It takes 25-30 years between the invention of a polymer and its successful introduction onto the market. In 1950 the plastics market was 1.5 million tonnes. In 2007, it was 260 million tonnes worldwide.
    Michel Loubry, Plastics Europe

  • Every year we burn up to 2 million years’ worth of fossil fuel deposits.
    Herbert Giradet, World Future Council

Best brow-furrowing quotes

Today’s quotes come from Professor Hermann Knoflacher at the Technical University of Vienna, speaking at a session on ‘Transport and spatial planning in a decarbonised world’:

‘A car is like a virus. A successful virus therapy is to not allow the virus to couple with the cell. And this is the same kind of therapy – we have to de-couple people from cars. So the walking distance to and from cars must be at least as far as the walking distance to public transport, otherwise we have no chance of choice.’

‘Electric vehicles are an excuse to extend the lifecycle of existing fossil vehicles…It looks nice, but it is not nice. Cycling is much better – much slower, but you only have two options: either you are fast, or you are intelligent.’

Best pics


This is one from Alan McKinnon’s talk on Thursday that made me smile. It was actually made for MP David Miliband (perhaps it should have been Ed..?) by Marches Energy Agency (MEA), a UK-based sustainable energy and climate change charity.


And this is another one from Prof Knoflacher, illustrating his argument that cars are generally crazy machines that take up a lot of space in cities, cut us off from the world and damage the environment. The ‘walkmobile’ uses up the same amount of space as a car, but doesn’t pollute, isn’t dangerous, doesn’t make any noise….but presumably doesn’t come with metallic paint or remote central locking.

Anna Lewcock

*But only if you’re just buying one book, the postman can deliver it on his first attempt, you don’t decide to return the book afterwards, you’re only driving to get the book and nothing else in the driving scenario (not stopping off for a cuppa with your Granny)…and various other caveats.

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