The Congress of Parties (or CoP) is the most important meeting of our generation.
During a year of unprecedented global change due to the COVID pandemic, I am reminded that the sort of devastation we have seen to families globally is just the tip of the iceberg of what may happen if we do not face and act to defeat the greatest threat humankind has ever faced - climate change.
The science is clear, the trends unmistakeable, unless we act now to keep global warming below 2 degrees (ideally under 1.5) by lowering CO2 emissions, the consequences are going to be dire for the whole of humanity and habitats throughout our world.
However, the pandemic has given me hope too.
When the international community works together for a common goal, amazing changes can be made at pace – the UK’s vaccine development and rollout internationally as COVAX is one such example and it’s not alone. The key in the pandemic is to include all areas of our global community in the solution and cure, or the virus will just continue to mutate and spread. This has parallels with our efforts on climate change.
This fight too must be a global effort where nobody is left behind. It’s a global problem needing global solutions.
The status quo is such that many parties come from different positions.
Some, like the UK, have one of the largest carbon debts as a result of the industrial revolution and yet have the resources to lead the global community in decarbonisation despite the pandemic. The decarbonisation of energy is an exemplar here.
Courageous and radical action is needed globally and I’m proud that we are doing our part.
Others are at the opposite end of the spectrum where they are trapped in a cycle of fossil fuel consumption and don’t have the resources to easily change. All parties must work together to lower the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere.
The days of offsetting carbon and moving the problem simply won’t get the job done. Courageous and radical action is needed globally and I’m proud that we are doing our part.
If we get this wrong, we can literally doom our children and grandchildren. If we get this right and make the more strategic climate friendly choices, we can literally save our world.
It doesn’t get much bigger than that.
Focusing in on energy, I am very proud of what the energy industry has achieved with the penetration of renewables and the removal of the most polluting forms of fossil fuels from the mix with a 65.8% decrease in carbon intensity between 2013 and 2021.
This last year, our teams in the ESO have been focussed on delivering a machine learning forecast that enables the potential to operate the grid based on super reliable probabilistic and automated demand forecasts. This is an incredible thing to see in action as it learns and adapts automatically, spotting patterns and relationships in new and exciting ways.
This new technology is currently in the process of going into production for GB and early results have shown a generational leap in accuracy. We are hopeful that this translates into less cost for the consumer in both carbon and currency.
The key – everyone must play their part and unify to meet the climate change challenge.
We are, after all is said and done, the first generation to understand climate change and the last to be able to do anything about it.
As the incomparable Greta Thunberg says… “You must take action. You must do the impossible. Because giving up is never an option.”
COP26 is our next best hope to make a difference.