There can be no doubt that the environment is one of the top items on the political, social and commercial agendas today. The position is now well beyond debating the reality of global warming or its uncertain repercussions. The last few years has seen a plethora of new laws and regulations which prescribe parameters for the production and usage of energy, fuel, power generation, resources and water and it is these targets which are the focus. All these targets can only be in the best interests of society’s health and the state of the environment for future generations.
That these targets are in all our best interests cannot be in doubt when they are considered in the context of the WWF International Report and findings about One Planet Living. The fact that the majority of the world consumes or has a direct impact on more of the planet than the planet itself can support should be the fundamental driver for changes in behaviour and our structure of life. This does not mean that the developed world should take a step backwards and return to a lower standard of living. What it means is that the world needs to progress apace in a way that accelerates a significant improvement in resource efficiency and consciousness of environmental impact. Although a drastic cut in consumption would facilitate the attainment of sub one planet living, a change in consumption style and drivers is the more suitable and realistic way forward.
It was in the 1980s that the world first moved to a level of consumption that exceeded what the planet could sustain. The legacy of environmental disregard, that started in earnest during the developed world industrial revolution, sadly continues and so regulation and other interventions, which are usually introduced to address market failure, are piling up to encourage, coerce and penalise society towards a sustainable future.
A focus on one planet living is helpful. Climate change is open to the debate of man-made change versus natural evolution and involves measurement uncertainty and the overarching precautionary principle. The overwhelming majority of expert climate scientists are in no doubt about the importance of climate change and the role that man plays in the deterioration of the stability of our planet. The great advantage of the WWF International findings is that there are no such debates and uncertainty in the context of one planet living, which encapsulates climate change in any case.
Net Zero by 2050 is the recognised way forward by companies, cities and governments alike. To achieve these demanding targets and to abide by the new regulations will require:
TECHNOLOGY + INVESTMENT + BEHAVIOUR CHANGE.
Dr David Clarke, when he was CEO of the Energy Technologies Institute and who was our keynote speaker at the Rushlight Awards 2008 Gala Dinner on 22 January 2009 said: “The UK energy system is under increasing pressure, requiring upgrading and replacement to tackle the combined challenges of climate change, energy affordability and security of supply.
There are a number of direct government and other indirect government-funded and independent initiatives focused on informing consumers and commerce to instigate behavioral change. Similarly, companies involved directly in the appropriate markets, private equity and venture capital, banks and government-funded institutions are investing significant sums of both debt and equity to finance new energy and resource systems and facilities. But for these targets to be achieved, for society’s new levels of expectation to be met and to deliver what the investment funds are looking for, new technologies need to be developed and innovations must be implemented. What is really exciting is that this pressure to change and evolve is producing some great opportunities for new science, business and markets. Some of the new technologies will be fundamentally disruptive, whether it be in the road vehicle markets, how goods are transported, how power is generated, how water is used or how resource is managed.
The Rushlight Awards focus on the technology and innovation achievements in the journey to meeting these goals.