With my favourite sport Test Cricket back, it must be the start of summer. And that means Social Net Zero is now six months old.
It goes without saying that we have all operated against a strange backdrop as we have continued to take on the challenges of Covid-19, but I have to say that time has simply flown by. Whilst rightly we have been focused on our response to the pandemic there has been some significant moves in the other big challenge we face as a society, the ongoing impact of climate change.
In the last six months there has been some major developments in the stated intentions of governments in how they seek to turn the future into one of net zero emissions.
On a global level, a new regime in the White House has seen a dramatic change in US government policy to tackle climate change. Shortly after his inauguration President Biden recommitted the US to the Paris Climate Accord, an important state of intent that the world’s only superpower is serious about playing its part in tackling climate change.
Often seen as a natural leader for the rest of the world, this was an important gesture and statement of new purpose. It has been followed up by an ambitious plan to cut US emissions by 50% by 2030, with a further goal to reach 100% clean electricity by 2035. With his announcement, President Biden put a real emphasis on job creation to develop a clean, modern, resilient grid, the building of electric vehicles and their supporting charging infrastructure, carbon capture and hydrogen technologies plus several nature-based solutions.
At home, the UK Government was guided by the 6th Carbon Budget from the Climate Change Committee to declare they will seek to deliver a 78% reduction in emissions by 2035. The scale of this new aspirational target needs to be understood. For a long time, our target as a country was an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050. This has now been superseded by the pledge to reach net zero emissions by 2050, so with this new plan we have effectively as a country bought forward our original target by 15 years.
There is a lot to do. And this is not something merely to worry about in the future. We have to undergo heavy decarbonisation over the next 10-15 years at a rapid rate. This change is happening now, and this is all part of the rationale for launching Social Net Zero.
We are all going to have a low carbon story to tell in this transition. Our role is to help people and organisations tell their stories effectively. Given the level of change required there is a lot of communications that is going to be needed, to help inform and educate people through the transition. It is vital that this is a just transition, something that benefits all. Therefore, everyone has to be engaged and understand – why this is happening, how it is going to happen, the impact the change will have and the benefits from making the change.
I have been working in climate change communications now for a decade and now is probably the most optimistic I have been that real change is going to happen. We can not fool ourselves and think this is something we can eventually get around to doing something about. The change required will affect us all. I often talk about the three pillars to deliver lasting change – technology innovation, the repurposing of our infrastructure to deliver a new fit for a low carbon future energy system and changes in our own personal behaviour. The debates around these areas are now more frequent and more intense. We are seeing more and more pronouncements from businesses about how they are committing to becoming net zero by a range of dates before 2050, a number of local authorities have declared climate emergencies and are engaging their communities to deliver solutions, again ahead of 2050.
So, a lot has happened in six months. My confidence is fuelled by this positive momentum at both a macro and micro level. We do need to keep this going Net Zero is the destination. It is enshrined in law. We all have a lot to do. We will continue to invest in and grow Social Net Zero as we see this as too important a challenge not to play our part. I want the actions of our clients make a positive impact in this transition.
So what will the next six months hold? Oh, not much apart from a G7 summit in Cornwall this weekend which will have climate change at its heart and in November, the UK hosts COP26, the UN climate change conference, bringing together government delegations from around the world to accelerate action and create another defining moment in our collective approach to combating climate change.
Much to do, and much to look forward to. Oh and in another six months it will be Christmas…
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