What part can we all play? Catherine has some ideas, and we couldn’t agree more: “Next time we need to change a lightbulb, why not make it LED? Next time we need to change an appliance, let’s make it the highest efficiency rating we can afford. Let us bank with institutions that promote green investments, buy from stores that focus on sustainability, and do business with companies that take their ESG responsibilities seriously. Purchasing a local vegetable, unprocessed, in your re-usable bag is not just good for you, it is good for the planet. Do we really need what we are buying? Do we really need to throw something out instead of fixing it?”. Find out more by taking a look at Catherine’s article now!
Goal 7 of the UN’s sustainable development goals deals with affordable and clean energy for all – a rather lofty goal, considering that in 2018 around 80% of global energy was being produced from fossil fuels and more than 770 million people around the world still had no access to electricity. But it IS attainable if we work together, as humans, as communities, as nations and as global citizens. More and more countries are committing to net-zero emission targets. Advancements in technology mean that clean energy can drive the expansion of energy to developing countries rather than a reliance on coal-powered generation or other fossil fuels. And with clean energy comes employment – an estimated 18 million jobs by 2030. So, the future is bright if we draw it brightly.
In September 2021, the UN will host a High-Level Dialogue on Energy. The phasing out of fossil fuels and financing of clean energy will be discussed by world energy leaders. Expectations for meaningful dialogue are raised with the recent commitment of America’s Biden / Harris administration to sustainability and carbon emissions reduction. 2021 needs to be a year of action. The goals have been stated, but now we need the plan, the resources, and the follow-through. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterras is quoted as saying “we urgently need every country, city, business and financial institution to…adopt concrete plans for transitioning to net zero”.
Plans like the European Green Deal are what the world needs to reach its targets. By providing resources to foster new innovative technologies, we can turn fledgling ideas and prototypes into utility-scale solutions. Some investment funds provide incubator programs with the mentoring of new companies, making them worth far more than just the funding available. And even the big oil and gas companies are realising that the earth is shifting beneath them and making new green commitments. These companies have the resources to research technologies, like making green hydrogen become a reality (currently uneconomical – but hailed to be a future cornerstone of clean energy once it is achieved).
”2021 needs to be a year of action. The goals have been stated, but now we need the plan, the resources, and the follow-through.
All this is well and good. But what about the rest of us – the ones who aren’t sitting around the decision table of country leaders or multinational energy companies, or building new clean-energy start-ups? As individuals, as SMEs and as communities that care, what should we be doing? In “Leadership for Sustainability” by Hull, Robertson, and Mortimer, they define leadership as the existence of three things: direction, alignment, and commitment. When all three of these are present, leadership has occurred. Their thesis proposes that although the great world leaders provide motivation and aspiration, when it comes to sustainable and results-driven change, we should look for middle-out leadership. That is to say, community leaders- people who make change happen where they are. And these changes can be copied by similar communities elsewhere, which can propagate and grow and evolve. Maybe it is a restaurant committing to a more sustainable procurement chain for its food. Maybe it is the fitting of PV panels on roofs. Maybe it is you and me resisting the convenience of single-use plastics (here’s looking at you, single-use coffee pods!!).
We all play our part for cleaner energy. We can reduce our own usage and we can demonstrate our preferences through our purchasing power. Next time we need to change a lightbulb, why not make it LED? Next time we need to change an appliance, let’s make it the highest efficiency rating we can afford. Let us bank with institutions that promote green investments, buy from stores that focus on sustainability, and do business with companies that take their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) responsibilities seriously. It might not seem like much, but it all counts. The sustainability mindset is driving change in businesses globally.
Everything we use was made, and more often than not, required energy to be processed and transported. We need to stop thinking just about the product in front of us, or just the size of the bottle in the bin. We need to be mindful about the whole lifecycle of that product. So, purchasing a local vegetable, unprocessed, in your re-usable bag is not just good for you, it is good for the planet. A study was conducted in Sweden which asked participants if they would like to know the carbon footprint of their food. Would you? Would it change what you buy if you had that level of transparency available to you?
Do we really need what we are buying? Do we really need to throw something out instead of fixing it? Interestingly, the batteries in our old phones and laptops, if we pooled them together can be largely recycled and turned back into new. The recycling of battery minerals is already getting to a stage where it is cheaper than mining new, but the problem faced by recycling companies such as Redwood is that a lot of the batteries they need to recycle are stuck in our houses, all over the world!
We are living in a world where climate change is evident all around us. We know the causes and we know that we need to work on the solutions. Am I hopeful? Yes.
There is a huge range of renewable energy sources either already available, being researched, or at prototype stage. The jump from prototype to economically viable utility-scale is always a big hurdle. An increase in ESG-based investment and new policies driving the industry down this road will play a large role in making it happen. In the past decade, solar and onshore wind power have gone from being expensive ‘new kids on the block’, to being cheaper than fossil fuels today for utility-scale installations.
Clean energy is the future. What part will you play?
 Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2021 report by the World Economic Forum.
 Based on LCOE (Levelized cost of energy)