Ecobuild is a green building trade fair happening in London this week

Ecobuild is a green building trade fair happening in London this week

Surveying the acres of exhibits at the Ecobuild 2010 green building trade fair in London this week, not to mention the tens of thousands of people mobbing them, I surprised myself with the feeling I wanted to go shopping.

I traveled here to deliver a presentation on population and climate change. But by the time I’d spent a few hours here I felt like moving to England and building a modest little cottage equipped with rainwater harvesting, dimmable LEDs, insulation made from grass, and a furnace and water heater burning waste wood, not to mention a roof full of photovoltaic cells that blend almost seamlessly with Cambrian slate.

For unleashing innovation to deal with climate change, there’s nothing like a good policy environment. The United Kingdom has one. The United States doesn’t. So Ecobuild wouldn’t work in the U.S., not on this scale, anyway, and not with this level of excitement.

The UK launches the opening phase of its national Carbon Reduction Commitment next month, which introduces five-year emissions budgets aimed at an 80-percent reduction of all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. All the country’s political parties embrace the effort. David Cameron, who leads the Conservatives here, is famous for riding his bicycle to show voters how green he is. Many conservatives in my country, I had to admit to my British friends, see snow in February as proof that global warming is a leftist conspiracy and cling to their large vehicles with pride.

Can we “ecobuild” our way to true environmental sustainability? I asked the audience this question in the talk I delivered here. My own answer: probably not. But it’s a heck of a start, and the United Kingdom is moving ahead while, in the United States, we’re mired in politics and inaction. It rains too often in England for my taste, but other than that there’s a lot to like here.

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Climate Change, Climate Policy, Ecobuild, Green Buildings