The sun shone yesterday on Chamonix’s first Eco-Expo, as if to remind us what an amazing place we live in! Living somewhere like Chamonix it is easy to be inspired by nature; every time we look up we are surrounded by snow capped peaks and amazing scenery. Whether skiing in winter or hiking in summer we all love to get out there and enjoy the mountains. So, climate issues and preserving the environment all seem a bit more relevant when you can see the changes happening on your doorstep.

Charlie Davies Photography had been asked to take pictures of the event and in doing so not only enjoyed documenting the day but also learning about some of the clear environmental problems effecting the Chamonix Valley and the world.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) representative Carolina Moeller gave us much food for thought with her detailed and passionate presentation on the responsibilities we all have, individually and collectively, to change our lifestyles in order to protect the planet. The WWF is pushing hard to educate and encourage businesses to become more environmentally sustainable through their One Planet Leaders project. Changing attitudes, encouraging debate and offering practical solutions are all at the heart of their mission to make us all become more aware of and responsible for the effects of consumerism on the planet.

Next up, glaciologist Luc Moreau gave a fascinating talk on the effect of climate change on glaciers. Glaciers are not just there to look amazing, to climb up or to ski on; they provide some of the world’s communities with water, they provide certain species with a unique habitat and they are an important indicator of environmental changes. Luc has a time-lapse camera mounted in the Refuge d’Argentiere that takes an image a day of the glacier; when played back in succession you can actually see the glacier moving as if it were flowing down the mountain. Apparently it can move as much as 2.5m per day! Luc’s overall opinion was that although human activity certainly has an effect on the environment, glacial recession is largely down to natural climatic cycles and that the visible shrinkage we can see of the Mer de Glace and the Les Bossons glacier is expected and normal. Give it another 30-40 000 years until the next ice age rolls around and they will be wending their valley down into the valley once more!

On a more day-to-day level was Snow Carbon’s presentation on travelling to Chamonix without leaving a dirty great trail of carbon footprints across the Alps. Snow Carbon is an independent website that shows you which ski resorts are easiest to reach without having to fly and how to get the best deals on train fares. Apparently taking the train can cut your carbon emissions by up to 90%, can work out cheaper, can give you an extra day up the mountain without having to shell out for an extra night’s accommodation and is often a more relaxing way to travel – what’s not to like?!

The afternoon was concluded with an explanation of what the local authorities are doing to make Chamonix a more eco-friendly place to live in and to visit. The hot topic, perhaps unsurprisingly, was public transport. Apparently this is something that the local authorities already invest heavily in, with the Mairie funding 2.5 million euros per year and the Compagnie du Mont Blanc adding an extra 1 million per year to keep the trains and buses running up and down the valley. Public transport in Chamonix is free to all residents and seasonnaires (who must apply at the Mairie for the relevant ID card) and to all tourists holding a Carte d’hôte card (which can be supplied free of charge by your hotel or accommodation provider). Projects such as the park and ride scheme (1 euro to park your car all day at the Grepon and then hop on a free bus round town) are aimed at getting people to ditch their cars and explore Chamonix in a “greener” fashion. Plans to improve the trains and add more services are under way, due to public demand, and the idea is to have a train running every half hour by 2013 and once every 20 minutes by 2014. It will certainly make life easier for people living/holidaying in places like Servoz and Vallorcine, who want to enjoy the attractions of Chamonix centre without having to drive.

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Living in Chamonix Mont Blanc and working throughout Europe on a freelance basis I am happy to work on big and small photography projects in a whole range of disciplines including; weddings, portraits, interiors and exteriors.

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