Though climate change is already upon us with temperature records smashed year after year and set only to worsen, the scope of climate change is still rather dormant in the minds of many, as it was mine, until an armada of whistleblowing and drum banging climate activists converged on Cavendish Square (the green patch of grass outside our offices) this Tuesday afternoon that I write this. I must confess the thought “what is all this racket actually achieving?” did cross my mind, despite being from a generation steeped in climate change ‘propaganda’. So, in this edition of the Monthly Focus we will look at exactly that; has anything tangible been achieved by the cacophony ensuing outside my window, and what measures are InvestUK and the UK taking to fight climate change?
Extinction Rebellion has three main goals: Number one is for the government to “tell the truth” about the extent of the crisis in which humanity finds itself. They say no global political leader is truly standing for the cause in a serious way or being honest about the severity of the threat, and what it will take to address it. Number two on their agenda is for the UK to reach net-zero emissions by 2025 – totally unrealistic, but that’s apparently what it will take to save the lives of the people on this floating water-rock. They may have a point: unless you happen to be a multi-billionaire spacefaring cowboy with your own private rocket-ship like Jeff Bezos, there’s currently no ‘Planet B’ for all of us to escape to. The final point on the list is a call for the creation of a ‘citizen’s assembly’. This exposes the more self-serving element of Extinction Rebellion. But forgetting this, let’s have a look at what they have achieved since the group’s inception in 2018.
As a result of Extinction Rebellion’s actions, some councils around the UK have ‘declared a climate emergency’, although the Conservatives are yet to jump on the bandwagon on the grounds that “they don’t know what declaring a climate emergency would entail exactly”. On the second point of Extinction Rebellion’s agenda, the UK is nowhere near hitting zero emissions by 2045, never mind 2025. I can respect the demand; more action is needed, and such a demand sharpens the mind – “what can we be doing now?”. That said, Labour’s Diane Abbott is confident that a “move towards the 2025 target” is certainly doable… no movement it seems on the creation of a citizen’s assembly though.
Despite Extinction Rebellion’s limited measurable impact, I suppose we can be proud that they are a UK-initiated group gone-global and they are certainly drawing attention to a problem that can be easy to sweep under the rug at times. I mean, I’m dedicating a significant proportion of the limited and valuable real-estate of the InvestUK newsletter to the problem thanks to them, so let’s hope others are similarly impacted.
Although Extinction Rebellion’s calls for a redoubling of efforts are justified, it’s fair to say that the UK is very much leading the charge towards a greener world. Among those countries that have signed the Paris Climate Agreement, the UK is only one of five to have committed to net zero emissions by 2050.
As pointed out by our Chairman, Rupert Gather, in his article in ‘Capx’ last month
, “The revival of British industry will not be a return to dusty mines, but a new era of green energy and cleantech” and all signs certainly back this up. The UK’s green economy and investment in the sector is the third-largest in the world according to ‘The Global Green Economy Index
’. This high ranking is supported by figures released by The Department for International Trade showing that 202,000 British jobs
have been created by the sector and that it accounted for more than £7bn worth of UK exports this year alone. The UK’s serious commitment to the protection of our climate is hammered home with the commitment of the UK Government to shut our last coal-fueled plant by 2025
and replacing it with yet further renewable sources, putting the final nail in the coffin of fossil fuels. The UK is already second-most reliant
for its energy supply worldwide on renewables so it’s no surprise that the UK comes second only to Sweden in the premier yard-stick countries climate activism efforts, the Climate Change Performance Index
, a comprehensive study ranking countries by multiple areas of climate-positive action from reductions in carbon emissions to the efficiency of energy usage and the pragmatism of a country’s climate protection policies, amongst other things.
With all these successes to the UK and InvestUK’s name, the future certainly looks promising. Perhaps Extinction Rebellion should take a leaf from our book and organise in a more impactful way to help combat climate change, eh?