LAST week Marks and Spencer, John Lewis and Asda launched their Christmas ads, the purpose of which is to get us to buy more "stuff". Meanwhile in Glasgow, world leaders are attempting to agree solutions to avert catastrophic climate change.

One of the major causes of climate change is the western world's (and increasingly that of developing nations) insatiable appetite for more consumer goods. If we want to save the planet we have to stop buying things we don't need. I followed an online debate on this topic recently, the main theme of which was that marketing/advertising should be part of the COP26 agenda, as consumerism is such a key driver of global warming. There were some concerns about moving away from a consumer-driven economy, notably the loss of jobs, demise of some household names on the high street and potentially a poorer quality of life.

As far as jobs are concerned, I don't think the purpose of the average person's existence is to ensure the continued prosperity of the likes of John Lewis, M&S or Asda. At a personal level, imagine if we significantly adjusted our spending priorities to become less of a consumer. If we spend less, we potentially need to earn less, which raises the prospect of working less.

If we worked less, what would we do with the time? Some of us might lie around, but I suspect that most of us would look for productive activity. This may lead to alternative income opportunities, or we might spend some of our extra time doing DIY, fixing that broken vacuum cleaner or washing machine rather than simply binning it, thus helping to alleviate global warming. Manufacturers, seeing a growing DIY trend might then need to create more maintenance-friendly machines, rather than building in obsolescence, as at present.

Far from diminishing quality of life, I see such a culture shift as enhancing quality of life, through greater time to follow an interest, being less shackled to the 9-5 regime and spending less time and money commuting. Many people are already experiencing this though lockdown and furlough and some are reluctant to get back on the treadmill despite Rishi Sunak's exhortations to do so. In that respect the Covid pandemic might have a silver lining in that it has offered a glimpse of a different, more attractive, environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Philip Maughan, Portree.

* CLIMATE change is a thing but the root cause is consumption. Somehow the world must slow down. Whilst not advocating sackcloth and ashes surely we could start by recognising that buying new electric cars, changing boilers and the latest iPhone is part of the problem and not the panacea? Should we not be making stuff last longer? The modern equivalent, perhaps, of darning socks?

John Dunlop, Ayr.


THE OTHER DAY on a short car journey on the M74 I was overtaken by a posse of six police motor cyclists on CO2-discharging devices. I presume they had some connections with COP 26. The temperature was low and the wind very light and the sky had a beautiful red glow. The bulk of the many wind turbines sprouting along the M74 were turning very slowly or not at all.

Prior to departure I had received a letter awarding me a government winter heating payment of £200.

Should I use this money to purchase one of the elaborate Chinese-manufactured Christmas trees on sale widely throughout the Clyde Valley in garden centres close to where in the 1950s I laboured in the fields for 1/9d per hour? A battery-operated tree might provide useful light in the highly likely scenario of power cuts due to an energy policy that has resulted in zero resilience within the UK. The balance I could use for a Calor gas heater.

Or should I start saving to buy one of these new-fangled EV cars containing Chinese components and metals mined by diesel-driven machines requiring an infrastructure that can only be built using fossil-fuel-driven machines in the off chance the “green” grid might be able to power my travel?

John M Caldwell, Bothwell.


ANGELA Terry writes on the subject of electric vehicles (EVs), which she says bring so many benefits ("Top tips: Buying an electric vehicle", The Herald, November 4). Apparently the point of buying one is because they are environmentally friendly.

This is definitely not the case, as EVs are not good for the health of the planet, as mining the lithium for the batteries is just as bad as drilling for oil, and the people who do the mining are exploited.

What on earth is the point of substituting one pollutant for another? It does not matter one whit how many positive points Ms Terry gives EVs, they are no better than petrol-driven vehicles. To reduce pollution to a level which will not damage our future existence it is necessary to take private vehicles off the road, and reopen the railways closed by the Conservatives.

There is less public transport in Britain nowadays than there was 100 years ago due to the short-term policies of politicians who are only interested in making policies so that they can be re-elected in five years' time. It’s time the young activists pushed the adults to the sidelines. Otherwise we are up the creek without a paddle.

Margaret Forbes, Kilmacolm.


THE amount of coverage on climate change and environmental issues in The Herald over the last few months has been excellent. I do hope that this will not stop when COP26 is finished.

John Palfreyman, Coupar Angus.