With environmental concerns slowly ascending the recent political agenda, as the G8 summit attempts to make progress on pre-Copenhagen agreements, momentum behind local and national groups campaigning to raise awareness of the necessities of collective socio-environmental change is increasing.

Since the beginning of my University sojourn (2006), the ailing state of the environment has gripped the public consciousness and prompted huge efforts in trying to negate our destructive influence on the planet. I, however, had remained fairly detached from participation – until I visited Köln, Germany, last year.

Hosting approximately 1,000,000 (996,000 – 2008) inhabitants, comparable with Birmingham’s estimated 1,000,000 (1,010,200 – 2005) the steps that Köln has taken to reduce its CO2 footprint are numerous and well-planned. The formerly traffic-locked downtown area has been converted into an ‘environmental zone’ forbidding vehicle use (with exceptions) and a state-of-the-art solar test centre has recently opened.[1]

Ultimately this visit inspired me to consider for the first time the impact my life has upon the environment. Furthermore it demonstrated what can be achieved, and I resolved to participate, by joining Birmingham Friends of the Earth, in ensuring Birmingham Council remain always mindful “that much more needs to be done to make Birmingham the green and sustainable City of the future that we know it can be.”[2]

[1] http://www.greenbang.com/state-of-the-art-solar-test-centre-opens-in-cologne/ [2] http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/GenerateContent?CONTENT_ITEM_ID=27087&CONTENT_ITEM_TYPE=0&MENU_ID=5191 – Quotation found in penultimate paragraph. (as of 08/07/2008)

By Chris Greasley