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This article first appeared in the Platform column of the News Letter on 11 January 2011.

New Year’s Day.  Radio 4′s Look Ahead.  Four BBC correspondents make predictions for the coming year;  the listeners react.

2010 surely broke records for disruption, suffering and cost; here, in Britain and globally; due to snow, ash, earthquake, fire, flood, oil disaster and finally,  our own frozen water chaos.  Yet the talk on Look Ahead was politics, British and global; and the inevitable magical return to growth economy. Environment?  Nowhere.

I phone Look Ahead, and predict:

‘We will have more and more environmental issues to deal with.  We need to realise we can’t just wait for the government, or the council or somebody else to do this stuff for us;  we all have to start taking responsibility for our environment.

It’s not next year or sometime like that, it’s not even next week or tomorrow, it’s today. We can all start saving energy today; we all know what we’ve got to do; our kids will tell us, if we don’t think of it ourselves.’

They mostly don’t know it yet, there across the water, but we here in Northern Ireland are doing something very special about the environment, right now.  And our very own politicians are leaping over their political barricades and showing leadership.

I’m talking about Pledge ASAP [As Sustainably As Possible], Baglady’s campaign, where adults and children give up one thing and take up one thing, to live more sustainably  eg stop the flow of rubbish, save energy and reduce our impact on the planet, which is now 4 times what it should be and getting worse.

We launched Pledge ASAP in August 2009, KIDS Pledge ASAP in March 2010. On Midsummer’s Day 2010, children from 6 schools around NI took their pledges to Stormont, inspiring 19 MLAs,  including Gerry Adams, Edwin Poots and Sammy Wilson, to sign up.  MPs Naomi Long and Michael Meacher have started the Westminster ball rolling [50 MPs needed]; Enda Kenny was the first Irish TD, with MEP Bairbre de Brun ready to pledge! You can see all these pledges on our website.    Will they keep them?  We can help.

This week [11.1.11] we  launch Round 2 ASAP. We aim to sign all MLAs and election candidates by June 21st, and get our message out to Europe and the world.

At last, our politicians can be seen to lead!  Roy Beggs MLA took his pledges to Silverstream Primary School. The whole school, including teachers, kitchen staff, caretaker and some wise parents, pledged too. Something to really smile about….!!

For the first time ever [probably],  we in the ‘lucky’ ‘rich’ world can learn in a flash of a nanosec, what’s going wrong everywhere else. Trouble is, it’s a lot harder to learn what’s going right.

I  happen to know, there’s a lot going right  in Northern Ireland, in environment, sustainability* and our schools, and from the pledges we’ve got, I bet it’s the same all over the world.

The great global wastefest party is over.


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