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Blog: Being part of the solution, not the problem- Robert Davis

Blog Sustainable and Inclusive Growth Commission Clean Energy 11/08/2021

The efforts being made in our region to decarbonise industry

A major UN scientific report published this week warns of increasingly extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding. The landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report says many changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.

In this personal blog, Robert Davis, CEO, EA Technology, and co-chair of the Cheshire and Warrington Sustainable and Inclusive Growth Commission, responds to the IPPC report and the efforts being made in our region to decarbonise industry and clean up how we all live and work.

The findings of the IPCC report have been described by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres as a “code red for humanity.” The landmark study was authored by 234 scientists in 66 countries and speaks of devastating impacts on our environment if we fail to drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.  Apart from the most ardent sceptic, choosing to ignore thousands of previous studies and reports, the reality is that we are in the midst of a climate emergency. Yet it still isn’t mainstream to believe that there is something significant that each and every one of us can do about it. 

In short, if you haven’t made some green changes to your life already, you are part of the problem. Let’s be clear, you are personally contributing to climate change and have chosen to do nothing about it. 

On an individual basis, the least we can do, with little or no additional cost, is to change our home electricity supplier to a renewable energy one. This takes minutes. If you work for a business, you can engage with your employer and lobby for them to do the same. If you want to do more, you can get an electric car (there are dozens of cheap ones available now, new and second hand). You can lobby your employer to install chargers at work too.  

So what can local government do? Well, there is a lot going on locally and all three authorities within Cheshire and Warrington, all engaged in decarbonisation programmes of varying types. What’s more, with the active engagement of local business leaders, we have set up the Sustainable and Inclusive Growth Commission to coordinate and accelerate what we are doing to not just ‘do our bit’, but to be a leader in the field. We have spent the last few months finding out what positive action is already happening both inside and outside the area. Now we are putting plans in place to really crack on with taking the carbon out of our lives. Some of this will need changes in local government policies. Some will entail actively seeking out private sector investors and there will also be areas where we need to engage with central government, either to accelerate policy change, or to make funding available. 

The Commission is looking at every area of our lives. We are exploring incentivising the move to electric cars (and to progressively penalise the use of petrol and diesel cars). We are discussing local planning rules and how they can evolve to require zero carbon heating systems in new homes built in the area. Authority-owned houses are already being considered for retrofit zero carbon heating. We are actively supporting major industries in the area to reduce or remove carbon from their processes, for example through the HyNet project, a hydrogen super pipeline which will progressively remove the use of fossil fuels. In total, there will be 50+ objectives which we will describe, with plans to deliver them all. 

Perhaps critical to our thinking on the Commission is how we make sure everyone is involved in this revolution…in the jargon, that it is inclusive. Every objective is being considered from this perspective. We’re particularly grateful to the University of Chester for their leadership here. 

In summary, let’s all make it part of our everyday lives that we do the maximum we can.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Cheshire and Warrington Sustainable and Inclusive Growth Commission

EA Technology