At the end of next month, the UK is set to host the UN’s 26th Climate Change Conference of the Parties (aka COP26).
The summit’s purpose is to bring countries together to focus on the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Whilst the attending parties are already signed up to the Paris Agreement, the summit’s ultimate goal is to accelerate their unified progress.
According to COP President-Designate, Alok Sharma, the UK is leading the way, growing our economy by 78% whilst cutting emissions by 44% over the last 30 years. More specifically, our reliance on coal for energy has fallen 38% in 9 years, from 40% to just 2%.
It’s difficult to talk about climate change without padding out paragraphs with statistics and good news. But the truth is, the environment needs desperate help and how we live, work and play must drastically change. Perhaps as you look around you here in the UK, things aren’t so bad. But think for a moment about the entire communities disappearing underwater, or entire seasons of crop yield completely destroyed by drought.
The answer, and the headline answer that most of us are familiar with is, ‘zero emissions’. This is the holy grail, but we cannot find our way there without protecting the planet and restoring vast areas of the environment on a monumental scale. This is so much more than saying no to a straw. To be able to hold global temperatures to a 1.5ºC increase, organisations and entire nations must change the way that they look after land, sea and air.
This is a huge part of the problem; nature simply isn’t valued anywhere near the scale that we value other walks of life such as work, transport, material possessions or health. This article is a few years old now, but does very well in explaining why technology can only help, but more than anything, we must value nature more.
This raises an interesting point that we as a technology agency must really consider. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the latest and greatest tech, and how it can ‘change the world’. It’s no secret that we are EV (electric vehicle) evangelists. But we also know that they alone cannot solve the world’s climate issues of fossil fuel dependence and greenhouse gas emissions. EVs are a small solution to a much wider problem. Technology is exciting, and in many ways, it’s cool too. Demonstrably, the pay-off from owning an EV isn’t just the green credentials, it’s the fact that you get to drive a pretty cool car.
But we must distance ourselves from this personal satisfaction and take it right back to nature. Technology is simply just a stepping stone to a better world. Technology cannot be the full answer. As an agency, we must consider this when talking to new clients. We can build a beautiful digital dashboard, or partner with a client who is saying all of the right things, but we must check ourselves and who we work with.
We must do our due diligence, and validate whether what we are signing up for is truly going to make a mark of a difference. Which takes us back to the statistics. They can so often be massaged, manipulated and presented in a way that puts a particular spin on a story or situation. It’s down to us to determine what is right and wrong, and that is a huge part of what we do as an agency with a very specific set of standards when taking on new work.
Thankfully, there are movements such as B Corporation who apply this mindset on a global business level. At last count, there were over 3,500 Certified B Corps in more than seven countries, which is hugely reassuring. Hopefully we will be part of that someday soon.
COP26 starts on 31st October in Glasgow, Scotland, and we’ll be following closely. As a major manufacturer in many industries, and a country full of so many brilliant businesses, the UK really can play a great and powerful role in leading us towards global net zero, whilst we protect communities and habitats.
Now, more than ever, you can be forgiven for reading about climate change and assuming it’s all doom and gloom. But progress is happening, so let’s close off with a look at some of the positives so far:
- The UK has decarbonised its economy faster than any other country in the G20 since 2000
- The UK is the largest producer of offshore wind energy in the world
- The UK will end direct governmental support of oversea fossil fuel energy
- The UK are doubling international finance to help developing countries tackle climate change
- The sale of petrol and diesel cars will be outlawed by 2030
- £3bn will be spent on nature and nature-based solutions in the next five years
There are some softer targets too, such as 2 million green jobs by 2030, and plans that put farmers at the forefront of reversing environmental decline.
We’re interested to see how the 2030 ban on combustion engine-based vehicles will play out. Particularly as we see more and more alternatives come to market. The most interesting of which we’ve seen is Zero Petroleum – a net zero petroleum-based product synthesised by the recycling of water and carbon dioxide using renewable energy.
We are a positive bunch at AndAnotherDay, and whilst climate change can be confusing, upsetting and often demoralising, we have hope and optimism for a greener future, and it’s our role to make sure we use technology in the right way to get us there.