Are Innovation and Incentivisation the Answer to Climate Change?

Even if you don’t watch or read the news, you can’t have missed the rampant wildfires in Canada, and much closer to home in Greece, wiping out entire villages and towns.  You can’t have missed the devastating, destructive floods that tore communities apart in Europe.  

Even in the UK, torrential rainfall flooding not just the streets but shopping centres, homes and the London Underground are starting to become a common occurrence.  Not to mention the extreme heat with temperatures in excess of 30° Celsius for not just a few days, but weeks. No-one can deny any longer that the world is in a climate emergency.

The Covid-19 impact on climate change

Remember the stories across the world of wildlife venturing into territory unknown, i.e. towns and cities, as we entered Covid-19 lockdowns?  Manufacturing plants ground to a halt; aeroplanes didn’t lift off; car engines were off the road; and the benefits became significantly noticeable.  However, the Covid-19 lockdowns delivered three unexpected insights into lowering carbon emissions that scientists weren’t ready for:

  1. Climate science is able to operate in real time – the fall in activity directly correlated with the fall in emissions; as we come out of the pandemic and activity is rising again, so are carbon emissions

  2. The lockdowns didn’t have the dramatic effect on climate change than many had hoped; indeed, studies have found that a drop in air pollution actually resulted in a very slight warming effect
  3. Calling a halt to our normal lives, i.e. less air travel, a move to all-electric vehicles and a change in eating habits from meat and dairy to plant-based food is not a plan for climate action.  Indeed, scientists believe we have to find new, innovative ways to reduce carbon emissions without impacting the economic and social welfare of the country.

The UN’s chief has declared that the current climate changes are a “code red for humanity” following the publication of a landmark study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that warns of worsening weather extremes.  With just three months until a key climate summit takes place in Glasgow, it makes very sobering reading.

It’s becoming more and more clear that instead of penalising the people of the world by taking away the things that produce excessive carbon emissions – not that a massive reduction in this is not needed – there is also a need to look further than the end of our noses to meeting our target of a 78% reduction in carbon emissions and greenhouse gases by 2035.

Scientists believe that by spending just 1.5-2% of our GDP on other innovative initiatives, such as using wind and solar power, better insulating houses, using technology that draws heat from the ground or air to warm our homes and the simple strategy of planting more trees and forests rather than tearing them to the ground to soak up the carbon emissions naturally generated by our animals, will have a more significant impact on reversing the current climate change events.  However, part of that spend has to be put towards incentivising not just the people of the world, but the governments, manufacturers and industrialists to adapt and change for the better of our planet, and our lives.

Just to say; if you think we’re dramatising the climate change situation, we can assure you, we’re not.  Our climate, worldwide, is changing rapidly.  With UN studies, international think tanks and even our own Climate Change Committee (CCC) declaring we are in a climate emergency, it’s time for every one of us to sit up, take notice and contribute to seriously cutting carbon emissions and greenhouse gases.

If you’re sitting there thinking, “What’s the point, one person isn’t going to change the world,” we’d agree with you, one person won’t but a collective of people across our planet will.

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