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Why 'business as usual' won't work with climate change


Image of article author Will Herman

By: Will Herman, Manufacturing Team Lead

I don’t believe it.

If January is the month when most of us consider what went well and what we really don’t

want to repeat in the year ahead, then the beginning of June is perhaps when many more will be wondering where the last five months if not the last five years, have gone, and isn’t it

about time we had some decent summer weather? Well, yes, it really is June. Yes, it’s 2024.

And, well, who knows about the weather? Whatever kind of summer we get, it is very likely to

be a volatile one. That’s the reality of climate change.

Wasn’t it slightly odd, then, that Chris Stark, the outgoing chief executive of the Climate

Change Committee (CCC), recently commented that in 25 years’ time, the world we live in

and how we live will be remarkably similar to today. “We will still be flying, we’ll still be eating meat, we will still be warming our homes, just heating them differently,” he said in an

interview for The Guardian, alluding to the controversy that has dogged the installation of

heat pumps in the UK.

The interview centred on the use of Net Zero as a political slogan and the fact that Stark

would be happy to see it retained as a target but dropped as a badge pinned to every

programme linked with reducing emissions. Perhaps disenfranchisement with Net Zero has

more to do with the cynicism that surrounds our political landscape than anything that is

wrong with the term itself. Though it is perhaps instructive to note the shortened lifespan

which such branding and once-effective tag lines, now appear to have. Interestingly, Stark

also commented that the changes in lifestyle required by the masses, far from being

insurmountable, were ‘not enormous at all.’

Climate protestor holding up placard that reads 'There is no Planet B'
Image: Markus Spiske – Pexels

But this presents society with something of a quandary. We absolutely do need to reduce

emissions. And real action is required to achieve this. If you always do what you always did,

as the saying goes, you’ll always get what you always got. So, if we carry on flying, eating

meat and, perhaps, heating our homes differently, will anything actually change?

Meanwhile, Stark argued that climate activists were actually damaging the process and

hindering the process of transition. Radicalism is not conducive to engendering political

support, nor is it something that fosters the kind of investment in evidence across Europe.

Even the U.S., it seems, is significantly ahead when it comes to investing in low-carbon

technologies. But ‘radical’ protests do have a habit of making people take notice. Clearly,

there is a balance to be struck. But the risk is surely that unless we do sit up, take notice,

and drive behavioural change in our homes and our businesses, the world we inhabit in

2050 may well be very different indeed.


One can only hope that in June 2050, we aren’t still scratching our heads, wondering,

much like Victor Meldrew lamenting the loss of his apple tree, where the last 25 years have

gone. Planting another one will not be an option.

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