Why a climate change focus is now everyone’s business

It seems that every week there’s a new extreme weather record being broken. The
latest IPCC report confirms again that we are changing our climate and are already experiencing the effects. Based on an extensive review of a collection of 14,000 studies, approved by 195 countries, we know that the extreme weather events that have been occurring with increasing ferocity and velocity over the last few years are no coincidence.

 

In the past we might have been tempted to push this to the back of our minds or think of it as something to deal with in the future. But now the impacts are increasingly observable to all of us, and we have to stop just sounding alarms, and instead put our money where our mouth is. . For me, one of the most sobering points in the report is that we will most likely experience an ice-free Arctic at least once by 2050. That’s within the next three decades i.e. within the lifetime of many of us.

 

A recent
UK Met Office report confirmed that the climate is already observably both wetter and hotter than was experienced 30 years ago. This means the impact is evident from one human generation to the next.

 

The year 2021 could be the most important one ever for tackling climate change. In November world leaders will come together in Glasgow (a year later than planned due to COVID) for the United Nations Climate Conference
COP 26 to agree upon new targets and actions.

 

The previous COP in Paris in 2015 was a game changer when the world’s governments committed to actions to limit the average global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, and the hopes are high for Glasgow. But the scale of work to be done is huge and governments will need to have even higher ambitions. The world needs to halve emissions by 2030 to stay on track to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

 

When it comes to our ability to influence climate change, energy is one key element. But how can we make an impact and what do we need to do to enable that?

 

As part of the run-up to COP 26, I was privileged to represent Utopus Insights in a UN working group on Innovation, Technology and Data and present the work as part of the
Ministerial Thematic Forums discussion on better data for low carbon energy. The purpose of the work was to make recommendations to governments on how we can collaborate on energy innovation to achieve the carbon reduction targets. The reports have now been published and you can read more about the work and see the key recommendations in the Theme Reports
here.

 

It would be easy to take a pessimistic view and think that think we’re doomed. However, the good news (and I am an optimist) is that beyond just reports and meetings, governmental action is already underway: The Biden administration in the U.S. wants the power grid to be carbon neutral by 2035, and China has a commitment to Net Zero by 2060. In the UK, coal has been phased out and the electricity system operator, National Grid, predicts that we’ll see the first hours and days of 100% renewable electricity generation around 2025. (When I started my career, the sceptics were telling us the electricity system would collapse if we exceeded 15% renewables!).

 

As an employer, and business leader, this serves as an important reminder that our work (even in software companies like Utopus Insights) can make an impact. Many of us spend a significant proportion of our waking hours at work, or thinking about work, so we’d better make sure we’re doing something worthwhile with our effort.

 

I’ve been doing a lot of interviews for new team members recently and it’s clear that a company’s mission is one of the key motivators for choosing one employer over another. For me, there is no more important a mission than decarbonization of the energy system. It’s the reason why I come to work and I see daily how that resonates in our team. Together, we can each make a difference, through our work, and our passion.

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