Yesterday we attended a barbecue for South Hobart participants in the Solar Panel scheme. A very well-organised and active community group got up and running to take advantage of government subsidies, and assisted 150 installations of solar panels, and 70 solar hot water systems.
I thought "OK, this is going to be a self-congratulation society". And it kind of was, but they had about a dozen different kinds of cake, so that was OK. They had plaques on offer that said "This is a climate-friendly home" or something like that, but to get one you had to sign a pledge to reduce your carbon footprint by a set amount per year.
If I had a good calculator for measuring my footprint, I would be prepared to try reducing it by 5% over 12 months. It might be hard to find another 5%, and another 5%, year after year. The time might come when you would have to hand in your plaque and admit failure. But also I think the solar panels stuck on the roof are enough of a smug middle-class advertisement of your climate awareness anyway, without going for a plaque. After all, thanks to subsidies we are out of pocket less than $2000 for our panels, and now we have tiny power bills. We are not exactly sacrificing ourselves for the greater good.
Anyway, Elf was against the pledge, I was against the plaque, so we walked away still middlingly-committed, like most people. I am going to look up a good footprint calculator though. Also I just want to say that our solar inverter is the Sunny Boy 1100.
At the barbecue we were handed a flyer for another plaque-related scheme, the Gardens for Wildlife scheme. Their plaque is nicer, and the idea of encouraging wildlife in city and suburban gardens is excellent. I had a look over the form to see if having a cat would disqualify us. One set of boxes to tick asks if you are a) Urban b) Sub-urban c) Peri-urban or d) Rural. "Peri-urban"? They left out pseudo-urban, quasi-urban and "miles from anywhere but built like a MacMansion anyway".