Writing shortly after the UK’s hottest day ever, climate change makes the headlines so often these days that it almost feels like a brand-new issue has come to light. Those that have long been committed to tackling the warming planet will know all too well that the topic first made front page news thirty years ago and scientists, politicians and climate activists have been vocalising concerns ever since. Despite the passing of time, the main issues of climate change remain the same. The only difference is that people have started listening. However, whilst the topic is no longer the special interest subject that It was 30 years ago, public and political support can be as fickle as the weather.
Right now, we’re seeing support from parliamentarians, industry and the public for a low-carbon economy in the UK, however this should not be taken for granted. We’ve already seen climate change become a polarizing issue across the Atlantic, with 64% of democrats ranking global heating policies important when choosing a candidate in comparison to the 12% of Trump’s republicans. British politicians will need to remember that support for the low-carbon agenda in the UK could also take a hit as time ticks on.
2019 has been an interesting year already for green strategy this side of the world. For the UK in particular, we’ve seen an announcement of the Future Homes Standard which will mandate the end of fossil fuel heating in new-build homes as of 2025 which should therefore encourage government to pro-actively boost deployment of low-carbon alternatives and reform building regulations for the UK housing stock. Most notably, however, the UK has become the first G7 country to set a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, followed by a Green Finance Strategy that should encourage the finance sector to help implement it. With transitions required across all areas of the economy, the Government will need all the help it can get, and Ministers recently appointed to Boris Johnson’s government will need to take responsibility for their actions – and inaction – from the get-go.
The bigger picture
It’s worth saying that like a number of key society issues such as social care, climate change will outlive BREXIT. It will also outlive the politicians capable of making the decisions required to limit its impacts and prepare for it. Therefore, despite all the to-ing and fro-ing around deal or no-deal situations, and the role shifts instigated by the switch from Theresa May to Boris Johnson, there are bigger transitions to get to grips with and responsibilities that shouldn’t be postponed.
For now, climate change might be a topical issue at the dinner table. David Attenborough’s compelling documentaries led to a plastic-free Glastonbury for the first time this summer (partially successful!) and Greta Thunberg’s quest to take on Governments continues to gain traction in Europe and overseas. Even so, as time ticks on and we wait for low-carbon policies to be executed, we would all do well to remember that people lose support for anything once promises are postponed. If the remainder of 2019 is going to be dominated by BREXIT we can only hope that clarity is achieved soon so that we can get on with the real task at hand.
Article written by Ecuity Partner, James Higgins, originally published in the September edition of H&V News Magazine.