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Between the horrific series of recent terrorist attacks and the shocking disaster that was the Grenfell Tower fire, the UK has been hit with some pretty grim news recently. For me, these horrors are exacerbated by the distasteful use of such events by commentators to further their tangential ideological aims – from people across the political spectrum, I have to say.

A sizeable chunk of this jumping to convenient conclusions is aimed squarely at the Sustainability agenda. Cycle lanes have been blamed in the Westminster Bridge attack for no better reason than they were there (a kerb is a kerb, after all) and the Daily Mail has pointed the finger at 'green targets' for the deaths at Grenfell.

As Carbon Brief has pointed out, the main reason for the suspect external cladding on the tower block was to tackle fuel poverty, with carbon reductions a subsidiary factor. The main aim of the public inquiry must be whether the cladding was responsible for the deaths (as it first appears), whether the material and its installation was compliant with fire regulations, if not, who was blame, and, if so, how those regulations need to be changed.

If you are a cyclist, you'll probably know how much 'bike bile' is thrown at innocent riders by elements of the press (and even more vile opinions from BTL commentators) and how that can spill into inconsiderate driving and road rage. On the wider Sustainability agenda, it is well known that climate scepticism sells newspapers and no amount of scientific consensus will stop the steady feed of unsubstantiated dross from the press. The Telegraph's recent eulogy to the age of coal was almost parodic – does anybody really miss 'the tang of sulphur in the air'?

This constant drip of evidence-free opinion is a major reason why Sustainability practitioners find themselves having to wade through mud to make change happen. But all is not lost – with my Green Jujitsu approach to engagement, you don't have to confront such aggression head on – in fact it is counterproductive to do so. Instead you translate Sustainability into a form which appeals to each audience. This means you choose the starting point for the debate, which gives you considerable advantage compared to reacting to negativity, and you deflect all that anti-environmental nonsense out of the way.

 

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