It is very good of you all to come and see me off. You will be pleased to know I shall not be delaying you long, particularly as we have to try and beat the cyclists to Edinburgh. If I do, I shall be responsible for an entirely unsustainable re-arrangement of a large part of Network Rail's timetable. And since they have agreed to take me around the country all week, powered entirely by bio-diesel made from astonishingly eco-efficient used cooking oil, that would not get things off to a particularly good start!
Starting is, of course, the theme of the entire week. What I hope to get across, to as many people as possible, is that however awful the predicament we face with climate change, and the unsustainable use of the natural resources that keep us all alive, we aren't going to get anywhere by telling everyone what they need to stop doing. There has been quite enough of that in recent years, and we all know what the reaction is. So this week, every minute of it, is going to be about the things we could all start doing, for our own benefit, for the benefit of everyone who shares this planet with us, and for the benefit of our children, and their children too. Just this morning I have seen some excellent examples provided by Glasgow City Council of really simple steps that everyone can take to make better use of natural resources, and I know I am due to see many more inspiring projects during this week.
START is very much a national initiative and backed by a range of major sponsors, most of whom have brought their own ‘starting’ messages here this morning. They have all built their businesses by knowing their customers better than anyone else. So it’s encouraging they share my belief that to achieve change on the scale we need, there has to be an entirely different approach. Rather more importantly, they believe that this is entirely possible and are keen to work together, with my organisations and a great many others, to start making it happen. I would like to say – again – how grateful I am for the way they have managed to see what I was trying to achieve and the way they have supported START from – well – the start! I am hugely grateful.
As I hope you may have seen from our website, and will see on a much larger scale during the week, the message of START is about encouraging and assisting everyone to take the first steps towards the world that we all want to live in. A clean, healthy, energy-efficient world that lives within the limits of its natural resources and that we can take pride in. START is a simple and positive message. It doesn’t lecture or hector anyone about anything, nor does it attempt to frighten them; instead it recognizes that however great the challenge, the first step is the most important. And it leads by example, showing what others are already doing and making it both simple and natural to follow in the right direction.
Having said all that, I now need to get started....