Thursday, September 09, 2010

Charles: Cabot [Carbon] Circus

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visited Cabot Circus shopping centre the other day to launch an 'environmental/sustainability' initiative. The claims that were made in local newspaper and tv reports about the 'green' credentials of Cabot Circus simply dont stand up to even the most basic scrutiny. The claims show just how weak and loose mainstream 'environmental/sustainability/green' thinking, standards and practices currently are...

THE Cabot Circus shopping centre had its first royal visitors yesterday, but the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were not in the city for a bit of retail therapy – they were here to paint the town green.

...James Bailey, Cabot Circus centre manager stated,

"As a centre, we have a strong track record of sustainability, having been recognised as the UK's first retail project of its kind to achieve the highest rating of 'excellent' by the Building Research Establishment.

"Environmental considerations have always been integral to Cabot Circus – from the overall design philosophy and integration with the existing city centre, to waste minimisation and use of energy and water efficiency features."

The distinctive energy-efficient domed roofing of Cabot Circus even seemed to get the thumbs-up from the Prince, who is known to often have unequivocal opinions on modern architecture...

If Cabot Circus is about 'green' Bristol and the West where does it prominently feature local and regional products? If it's consistent with Bristol’s green city/capital ambition why the focus on driving to the huge car park (pictured top left) and shops that import products from all over the world? Where are the genuinely green products and businesses? Why are plastic bags given out left right and centre?? Why no mention of how it has increased Bristol's already very large and unsustainable carbon footprint, both directly and indirectly? Cabot Circus is all about the celebration and advocacy of mass consumerism, the belief that the more we consume the better off we are, something that is remarkable in these pretty unprecedented times of credit crunch, economic downturn, resource depletion and environmental degradation.

The focus of Cabot Circus is much more global economy than local economy, much more about a small number of people getting rich than local people meeting their needs. Debt-funded mass consumption around the globe is causing extremely serious and urgent economic and environmental problems. So what have we done in Bristol? Build a massive shopping centre, including one of Europes biggest car parks!! Mass consumerist societies eat up resources (sparking oil price rises) like there is no tomorrow and spew out vast amounts of climate change causing carbon and very large amounts of all kinds of wastes

Would it not have been much more valuable to individuals, neighbourhoods and communities in Bristol to get together a proper strategy to maintain and develop shops, services and jobs in each locality? We need development to be localised. Cabot Circus is a million miles from local production for local needs yet this is the pattern of development we need for a happier, healthier, fairer, greener and more convivial city!

1 comment:

  1. Glen, this issue will continue as long as the Council runs scared of powerful national and multinational organisations, particularly the media, which in Bristol is no longer 'local'. Although the 'local' paper is called 'The Bristol Evening Post', it along with 'The Western Daily Press' are not Bristolian by any means or even 'South Western' as they are both local outlets of Northcliffe Media, associated with the Daily Mail. The Bristol Evening Post, in my view, regularly promotes a national and international global consumerist agenda. You only have to look at the recent motor show that it held in Broadmead, there wasn't any mention of or consideration of green issues associated with increased car use. No, the overwhelming agenda with the Bristol Motor Show is continually to sell more cars. In my opinion, the Bristol Evening Post is certainly in cahoots with the mass consumerist agenda promoted by Bristol's shopping centres, all three of them, and I have seen little real sign of any serious interest in green issues in its pages, apart from perhaps bids to cash in, through advertising, on Bristols various green shows and cycling events. The council will not do anything to change the nature of consumer behaviour in Bristol because it knows only too well that any real challenge to the status quo will be opposed by the Northcliffe Mafia which will quickly whip up public opinion against such moves by raising public hysteria about moves to 'sabotage the local economy', when of course we already know that there is no real local economy. In order for a true local economy to emerge, there must be a revolution in Bristol's media, away from the Northcliffe Mafia and towards a truly representative and independent local press. I can't see that happening for quite some time, if ever.

    Robin Whitlock


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