How C-19 shows we can indeed move mountains for climate change

It’s evident that we can change policy and lifestyles for a virus in just a few weeks. Yet, we have a 30-year goal for our country to take action on climate change.

“The response to the pandemic shows we can do some serious collective actions against global threats. In some ways, it is amazing how it has shaken us out of our habits.”

– Mark Lynas 

In a mere few days; the government closed high-streets; police could patrol people leaving their homes; corporations had upscaled working from home capabilities like never before; we made drastic changes to everyday living, and let’s not forget we’re paying for over 6.3million Brits salaries through the furlough scheme alone. In comparison, we have weak guidelines and very little action on how the country will reduce emissions and target climate change to meet net zero by 2050. 

Over the last few weeks, the lifestyle changes across the globe have accounted for 10% reduction in emissions. Just lifestyle changes. Ordnance Survey reported growth of 1,161% in the use of their app to find green spaces this April vs 2019. Green spaces that won’t exist if we don’t maintain our lifestyle changes. 

Heatwaves will dominate, hurricanes could come, green areas won’t thrive, all because of a few degrees change in our global temperature. 

Policy was whizzed through parliament during March to accommodate the changes and powers needed to tackle and enforce COVID-19 action. However, the government seem to take months, if not years, to debate some of the most basic of changes needed to help the UK meet net zero goals.

Bike shops are still over overwhelmed with demand for cycling, especially when the Prime Minister here in the UK encourages cycling over using public transport to minimise the spread of infection, and four in five people who have taken up walking, running or cycling as their ‘daily exercise’ say they will continue this uplift in commuting/exercising. That’s okay when the roads are clear of cars, but how will people feel when cars start to choke up the roads once laid bare due to C-19 without better cycling infrastructure? 

Four in five people who’ve taken up walking, running or cycling as their ‘daily exercise’ say they will continue this uplift in commuting/exercising. 

And this is a key point Mark Lynas, author of Six Degrees, made this weekend as part of the digital Hay festival seminar, Our Final Warning Six Degrees of Climate Emergency, in the Hay Green digital tent. A seminar the team at BiU attended with interest. 

Lynas was asked what the best thing local authorities could do to support climate change initiatives, with him promptly stating ‘transport and infrastructure’ to make towns and cities less car-centric.  

With that thinking, why can’t the EV infrastructure be ramped up and ban on selling new petrol and diesel cars be brought forward far sooner than the current 2035 goal posts? If we can stop an entire country from driving to different parts of the UK, surely, we can also stop emissions from those cars sooner? We can help facilitate greener roads if we put our minds to it. 

“Greenland in 2019 lost 600 billion tonnes of ice, raising sea levels by 2 millimetres”  

– Mark Lynas

Lynas continued with his evolution of the six degrees, increasing degree by degree, by highlighting that 2 degrees increase in temperature would see over half a million deaths due to malnutrition, exceptional heat waves and coral reefs gone and unreplaceable. Something we can stop now with action. Lynas stated:

“For 2 degrees we need to cut emission by 6% per year starting now”. 

– Mark Lynas

So how can you, as a business professional, make immediate changes to your organisation’s emissions?  

  • Optimise your energy usage. Don’t just change your lights to LEDs – make sure to tackle every centimetre of energy used on your site to reduce wastage with the likes of an accredited and experience energy and carbon optimisation program. 
  • Work with the right energy consultancy, buy making sure you adopt true green energy solutions such as CPPAs (available to public and private sector businesses). 
  • Companies are still unsure where their part lies within the net zero framework from the UK. So be on the front foot and start looking at the carbon emissions are with a full audit, and carbon and optimisation program. So when the time comes when the government invent the net zero tax on companies, you’ll be ready. 
  • Work from home where possible, reducing your commute (and let’s be honest, giving you more time with family). And if you can’t do that, then take the lead from one of our team by offsetting your fuel emissions. 

Just like the anniversary of the Little Ships of Dunkirk remind us this week: if we Brits put our mind to something, we can achieve great things. Let’s turn climate change into climate action.