On an ordinary street, the climate is transformed

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The Independent Online

If the Stern report had not done the job already then the unseasonable heat yesterday seemed to convince residents of Green Lane in Timperley, south Manchester, that climate change was an issue worth worrying about.

For Simon Moss, working at the photo processing shop at the end of the lane, a temperature of 19C in the depths of "what used to be called winter" contributed to mounting concern. "It felt like 80 degrees outside in the garden this weekend and that's unnatural," he said. "But I still say that the Stern report is not for low carbon people like me (Mr Moss drives a 1.25 litre Fiesta and is an infrequent flyer), it's for people who drive £40,000 cars and think they should get away with paying the same road tax."

Mr Moss was not the only individual on Green Lane for whom the headlines surrounding the report had contributed to an awakening. Tony Germain, at No 5, has enough pressures in life to place climate change down his list of priorities. "Try telling my children (aged 12 and eight) that we've got to cut out foreign holidays," he said. "And don't get me started on how my company car (an Audi 1.9TDI) is a luxury. I do 25,000 miles a year in my job as a computer programmer. It's a tool of my trade." And yet there was something in Stern's mind-boggling numbers which made Mr Germain, 43, feel there will need to be sacrifices. "With children, I have to start thinking about it," he said. "I'm pretty fastidious about the council's recycling system but I can see there's more to it than that."

Next door at No 7, Julia Connor, 38, was also contemplating a step-change in a commendably green lifestyle which includes passing items her young children have no use for on to charity rather than dumping them. "We've just spent the half-term holiday in Spain and yet I know that aviation fuel is the biggest problem," she said. "I admit that I tend to be greener when I think about it."

There will be less difficulty for the retired sales manager David Lloyd, 72, at No 1, whose enthusiasm for recycling sees him make regular trips by car to the local bottle and newspaper banks, despite Trafford council's kerbside collection each Tuesday. Nor for Eric Woodward at No 3 who, in his 80th year, is getting to grips with low-energy bulbs.

But at a time when nearby Manchester airport has just published development plans committing it to doubling passenger numbers to 50 million by 2030, some are fatalistic. "I'm not at all optimistic about the whole thing and, despite Stern, I don't think they will [cut greenhouse gas emissions adequately]," said Jennifer Wood, a Salford University social sciences lecturer and qualified ecologist, who lives at No 10. "We always stop at the point when it becomes uncomfortable. Both my daughters are pregnant but there's no way they will use terry nappies. Only government action - green taxes - will help Stern's ideas materialise."

Her own neighbour, 19-year-old Arran Haigh, was a case in point. "I can't say I do go in for recycling," he said, labouring over work to his boat at No 4. "I'm usually in a rush and it's straight into the bin for me. And anyway, what good can a few more bottles in the right place make when the US and the Chinese are hard at it adding to the problem?"

Even the environmentally enlightened Stephen Moss conceded the global picture was a problem. Witness, for instance, the pile of used disposable cameras in a recycling bin at the back of his photo-processing shop.

"Yes they will be recycled," he said. "But the manufacturers will ship them back to China to get the recycling done, then ship them all the way back. It rather defeats the object."

Talk of the street

DAVID LLOYD, 72: "I think if hydrogen-fuelled cars were developed it would make more of a difference."

JULIA CONNOR, 38: "We've just spent half-term in Spain, yet I know that aviation fuel is the biggest problem."

ARRAN HAIGH, 19: "What good can a few bottles in the right place make when the US and Chinese are adding to the problem?"

ERIC WOODWARD, 79: "I have grandchildren, and it's important for their futures that my generation plays a part."

SIMON MOSS, 41: "The report is for people who drive £40,000 cars and think they should pay the same road tax that I do."

JENNIFER WOOD, 59: "Only government action - green taxes - will help Stern's ideas to materialise."