Climate Change Report - Yesterday’s News?

25 June 2021 | Sharon Todd, SCI CEO

Sometimes yesterday’s news makes it to today’s agenda - and tomorrow’s.

Sharon Todd, SCI CEO comment

Yesterday’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) call for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to deliver more on climate change, isn’t just yesterday’s news. With Glasgow’s COP26 event taking place in just a matter of weeks, the UK must show rapid delivery against climate change targets. This advisory group announcement praised the PM’s ‘remarkable’ climate leadership, but also highlighted inadequate policies and poor implementation. The report warns that if we continue at today’s pace of change, only 20 per cent of the UK’s climate change ambitions will be achieved by 2035.

I would argue the PM is not – and should not – be alone in terms of delivery on climate change targets. The task is enormous. At this week’s Parliamentary Links Day, Sir Patrick Vallance explained that anything not yet invented to date will not help address climate change in time. The challenge is to maximise what we have already. Sir Patrick also stressed ‘a whole systems approach’ is needed now – not just applied science but behavioural science as ‘the biggest unknown is behavioural.’

SCI is the place where science meets business and joined-up thinking between business, governments, academics, scientists – and the public is imperative. SCI's community is already working on practical solutions and the commercialisation of new disruptive technologies, but how can we best take on the gargantuan R&D task described by Sir Patrick and implement solutions at pace and scale? SCI has called for the focus on vaccine development to be applied to climate change - but this would require a step change in action from government, regulators, the industry, academia and the finance community.

I agree with the words of the CCC Chief Executive Chris Stark yesterday; that a net zero strategy ‘must encourage action across society, while protecting vulnerable people and companies at risk of adverse impacts.’ These groups are also part of the longer-term climate change solution as is Boris Johnson.

In the meantime, let’s celebrate where collaboration is already having an impact. For example, yesterday’s news was also about the launch of the Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) project. The UK’s first lithium-ion battery energy storage system, connected to the National Grid’s high-voltage transmission system was backed by the UK Government and led by Pivot Power, part of EDF Renewables. This is partnership working at its best - and very much tomorrow’s news.

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