Thursday, December 28, 2006

To the land of 250 cheeses

I awoke this morning to the dulcit tones of fellow Scot James Noughtie on the Today programme. As I hurriedly finished packing it occurred to me that it was quite remarkable that In just under a year, radio 4 has evolved not only into now daily reporting of environmental stories, but also to a guest editing by Zac Goldsmith, editor of The Ecologist, potential future Conservative candidate and environmental advisor to David Cameron.

Business inevitably has the ability to remodel our newly evolving world faster than politics and law and two individuals who, it could be said, are at the forefront of the business of Climate Change in the UK today were invited to comment. James Cameron founder of Climate Change Capital, and Juliet Davenport CEO of Good Energy and recent winner of Ethical Businesswoman of 2006, spoke on the development of London as the centre of the global carbon economy and the rapid maturation of investment in the low carbon sector.

All interesting stuff, but no time to linger. It's off to the Eurostar, breakfast on board (organic youghurt no less, scrummy croissant but utterly vulcanised scrambled eggs. Why powdered milk?) amid what the mad russian calls portable anarchy (quealing kids) - but I don't mind because the adventure has begun....

And so we arrived in Paris, dumped our bags and off we mooched. A few coffees, vin et fromages later we found ourselves on the banks of the Seine at the Beaux Arts where we came upon a remarkable exhibition of the photography of Jean-Baptiste Huynh. Food may feed the stomach but the arts feed the soul.

So how does Paris stack up on the eco-factor? Hmm, there are pockets of activity in the arts and design front, and there is an active municipal/green spaces for the people policy. France voted unanimously to ban non-biodegradable plastic carrier bags from 2010, replacing them with compostable cornstarch alternatives. In any event, they are not beholden by the ubiquitous placcie bags as we Brits are. No, it's stylish shoppers for them.

The Paris Mayor has a plan to see a tramway skirting the city bordered by trees for a more eco and transport friendly city. Bikes for the first time are getting a look-in, and we saw cycle lanes being laid, which is a first in this car-centred city. Other plans include reducing the speed limit in the city centre, tripling parking fines and banning cars at the weekend. Most encouragingly, his eco policy has the backing of 82 per cent of Parisians. Even here the environmental vote is starting to prove popular.

Ah, enough for now, it's time for more important things - some fine wine and a good dinner....

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