IPCC report on Global Warming
The authors of last year’s IPCC report on Global Warming painted a stark picture: urgent and unprecedented changes are needed if we are to reach the target of restricting the global rise in temperature to 1.5o. But it is still affordable and feasible, even although it lies at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge. Those are their words, by the way, not ours.
The changes to the way we live will be far-reaching. But people are more and more ready for that. Look at the way consumer behaviour and consumer attitudes have changed within the last year or so on two big issues in the environment – diesel cars and plastic waste. If you drive a diesel car today, it could well be your last. The public has reached a tipping point. Diesel is no longer the future.
It’s the same for plastic waste. People are cleaning up beaches, buying bags for life and calling for bans on drinking straws. Another tipping point has occurred.
We need that same tipping point in heating and cooling. We need a new reality, where fossil fuel is not the acceptable choice and consumers are not locked in for decades to come.
But who is going to be at the sharp end of making it happen? Yes, international organisations can pass resolutions and governments can draft laws. But who will pick up a spanner or a laptop and actually get on with it?
A major shift to renewable energy can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide value-added employment. The politicians can create the right legal framework and the scientists and engineers can create the new technologies, but somebody has to put it all into practice.
That means fitting solar panels, installing a biomass boiler, placing a heat pump or choosing a geothermal plant. It breaks our addiction to fossil fuel, it uses technology which delivers the same level of comfort and service and it saves money on our energy bills.
Of course, we do need the politicians in all this. Their role is to help consumers understand what they can do for the environment. But for their words to be put into action, consumers will need someone to supply the necessary technology, advice and finance.
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