Environment may look more hopeful

ENVIRONMENTAL issues can sometimes seem so overwhelming that there is nothing we, as individuals, can do to prevent the world from spiralling into disaster.

ENVIRONMENTAL issues can sometimes seem so overwhelming that there is nothing we, as individuals, can do to prevent the world from spiralling into disaster.

Putting paper and cardboard into blue bins rather than black ones is something we can all do - but is that really doing any good in the overall scheme of things?

Installing low-energy light bulbs may save us on our electricity bills, but is it going to save the planet?

Vehicles spew millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - but we're concerned about the cost of petrol and diesel than we are about the cost to the earth.

However sitting here in Ipswich, things suddenly seem a little brighter after the Bali summit.

Now I question the sense of flying people from all over the world to a tourist honeyspot like Bali for a big conference, but by definition I suppose if you have people coming from across the globe, wherever you hold the summit someone will have a long flight.

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It won't have been too difficult a trip for delegates from south east Asia, which is one of the parts of the world where deforestation is a major issue.

But the fact is that the end of the conference does seem to have brought with it a meaningful agreement on climate change.

It's not as strong as many delegates, especially those from Europe, would have liked - but it is better than many had expected.

And even America signed up to it. That's good news - and in a sense it is even better news that the White House then started getting cold feet about it.

When it comes to environmental issues many people feel that if the White House is unhappy about a treaty, then it can't be all bad!

The Bali summit does seem to have set in place a framework which will allow rich and poor countries to negotiate deals to ensure that a living rainforest is at least as profitable as a sterile palm-oil plantation.

Hopefully that will have given everyone a bit of hope for the future. Maybe governments are finally waking up to the threat to the environment.

Hopefully this will inspire us to recycle more and change a few more lightbulbs. That is at least a fairly painless way of helping the environment.

Trying to persuade us to travel a bit less, especially to leave the car behind, will be much more difficult in the west. But it is something that needs to be done.

OVER the last few weeks the cost of fuel, petrol and diesel, has increased dramatically - prompting a great deal of anger and concern.

There was even talk over the weekend of fuel protests like those which paralysed the country in 2007.

However it is a bit rich when the protesters blame the government for the cost of their fuel. The fact is it is not government policy that has put up the cost of filling up their tank.

What has caused the increase is the growing demand from oil across the globe, especially from countries which are developing rapidly.

The law of supply and demand dictates that this increase in demand will push up prices - excise duty went up slightly in the autumn, for the first time in many years, but it is hardly the dominant factor.

And while this government has been terrified into not increasing fuel prices over the last few years, the previous Conservative administration introduced the fuel price escalator which did push up fuel prices faster than the rate of inflation.

From an environmental point of view that was undoubtedly good for the planet - but it is a bit rich for the party which pushed up the cost of fuel to be attacking a government which has held off from increasing excise duty and accusing it of stoking up prices.

EVER since he was first elected to the House of Commons six years ago, Ipswich MP Chris Mole has differed from most of his parliamentary colleagues in the Christmas Cards he sends.

While most send official House of Commons cards - this year's features a snowy scene looking across at the Palace of Westminster - Mr Mole always asks a child from his constituency to design him a card.

This year Cody Moyes from Halifax School got the nod from the MP and her design has been arriving on doormats of the great and the good around the town . . . and beyond.

The colourful card is a real delight - something that stands out from the pile. And Cody received Mr Mole's personal thanks when he visited her school at the end of last week.

On thing, though, about the official card struck me - when was the photograph taken?

Snow that thick is very rare anywhere in southern England these days, let alone in London.

And it certainly wasn't taken at the festive season . . . London hasn't had a White Christmas since 1970!