7 December 2022
Dr Dominic Walker
Analyst in energy and the Net Zero transition at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, helping to decarbonise the UK energy system ahead of Net Zero by 2050. His PhD explored the role of art in communicating science and environmental change through institutions, culture and society. He has co-convened, chaired sessions and presented papers at Royal Geographical Society and many institutions in the US and Europe.
Dominic reminded us what has happened and why we need to act. This slide is pretty convincing! Earth’s natural cycle would have produced an ice age but along came homo sapiens.
Already familiar effects of climate change include fewer colder days, heavier rain, warmer night times and more humidity. These have impacts on diseases, health, persistent flooding, travel disruption etc. Wildlife is affected, people who can no longer survive where they are have to migrate. This is life, we need to prepare better!
Dominic made the point that it is possible to reduce carbon emissions without cutting the standard of living – if the people, led by their government, are truly committed. Sweden is a good example.
The Government needs to move beyond economic growth as the principal measure of success. It is antiquated, misleading and is often achieved by damaging the environment which we all depend upon.
A to-do list for the Government:
- Dismantle fossil fuels full stop, and ban fossil fuel delegates from COP meetings
- Stop subsidising fossil fuels ($3tn, 2015-2019; $700bn in 2021)
- Decarbonise power sectors, both demand & supply side and make electricity cheaper than gas for consumers
- Market signals – pioneering gives a bigger market share
- Act as a leader to other countries, don’t lambast them
- Smarter agricultural practices – plant more weather-resistant crops such as fonio, amaranth, cowpeas, taro (all currently grown)
- Encourage insulation & retrofit buildings – learn from others
A to-do list for us:
How can we influence the national and international?
Respond to public consultations on new Government policies and rally others to do the same. Responses really are read and acted on, so it’s a great chance to feed up your views. Go to www.gov.uk and type “public consultation” into the search function.
Vote! Look through manifestos for all parties. If climate isn’t on there, or you don’t like their proposals, don’t vote for them. www.theyworkforyou.com provides accessible information about MPs’ voting record and a lot of other interesting stuff.
Join groups of other like-minded people across the country and in other countries – this helps build momentum and can share ideas further. Find community groups, use Google and use apps to help.
Talk! To everyone and anyone. If their views are very different, it’s useful to understand why and to have constructive conversations. Have a look at www.bbcnewslabs.co.uk/projects/climate-bot for help with initiating if you’re unsure.
Use media – write letters and emails, use social media, start a blog, start a podcast etc – all useful to share thoughts. Often they’re easy and cheap to start, and give a chance to spread your views.
Make it a core part of your identity and habits – this will make you more conscious of issues and attempts to downplay or disregard the climate crisis.