Footprint Blog

Don’t Mention the War!

Posted in Comment,International by foodservicefootprint on May 15, 2009

The Germans have long been environmentally conscious. 20 years ago they were charging for plastic bags in supermarkets and vigorously recycling. As a nation, they have considered themselves champions of environmental issues long before it was on our domestic or political agenda.

On a flight back from Germany yesterday, having been to Munich to research an article we will be publishing comparing the continental environmental credentials to ours, I was reading Die Welt – I suppose the equivalent to The Independent. One of the headlines read ‘Self Proclaimed Role Model – The Greendex determines how environmentally conscious people are – The Germans are middle measure’ It immediately caught my eye as it struck me as unusual Teutonic humility.

‘The Germans’, the article starts ‘drink lots of water that they buy in bottles, they like to drive on their own and only a third of them are scared of climate change’. Great Lord, I thought, this really is unusual. The article then goes on to say ‘but on the other hand we insulate our houses, take our own bags to the supermarket and vigorously separate our rubbish for recycling’.

What seemed to annoy the author,  so subjectively is that on an individual basis, by international comparison, Germany seem to only occupy the global middle ground of ‘greeness’. This is according to the ‘Greendex’ published by the National Geographic Society. In this study, the NGS looked at 17 countries and conducted an online survey with around 1000 people per nation. But in doing so, exclaims Ulli Kulke, has only taken the opinions and lifestyles of the individual into account and has not considered governmental policy, or behaviour of the nation as a whole!

Great Scot, God forbid, Germans answering a survey on their own accord, expressing their own opinions, without taking centralised governmental policy into consideration. Whatever next!

It goes on…Spain (51.4) achieves more points than Germany (51.1), India (59.5) was the most environmentally friendly, followed by Brazil (57.3) and China (56.7). Bottom were Canada (47.3) followed by the US (43.7).

How can China achieve these results with all its polluting development, coal energy generation, motorway and damn construction projects, the article implies. Equally how can Brazil achieve these heights of environmental consciousness whilst happily destroying the rain forest for the production of Ethanol and Soya! ….It is not a wonder that due to raised petrol costs the Chinese have taken to car sharing …tropical countries don’t need heating systems and therefore insulation is superfluous…..Of course the scores are going to be better for those nations, as it does not take into account whether those countries compared are in the developed or developing world. Nor does it take sociological, cultural or geographical differences into account.

So, what set out to be humble reportage concluded in criticism of the survey in order to protect Germany’s Green integrity. To a degree I can understand the cynicism, but the point is, of course some of these results are ambiguous and surely every reasonably intelligent German will be able to conclude this on their own. The Greendex is not meant to be the international benchmark of who is the greenest, but is merely designed to give an insight into the shift of environmental consciousness.

Once again Germany has taken herself far too seriously and has proven a bad loser. I am just delighted that the British were not implicated. Obviously a slow news day in Germany!

One Response to 'Don’t Mention the War!'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Don’t Mention the War!'.

  1. Molly Lambert said,

    Ah, you mention an important word: INSIGHT. Now lots of people do have insight probably even some Germans but collectively as a nation this is too much to ask.
    In my experience Germans spend a great deal of time perfecting the visual state of their country and in doing so have little time to use any of the above mentioned insight for global affairs, green or otherwise. Some would call this breathtaking ignorance.
    There you are. Sorry you were disappointed – you’ll now better in future, I guess.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: