written by Sarah Cripps
At the end of last month I attended a meeting at the House of Lords entitled ‘Climate Change: Running Out of Time’ featuring guest speakers Lord Richard Layard, Sir David King and Professor Mark Maslin. The speeches sparked a lively debate, between climate advocates and sceptics alike, on the best solutions available to tackle the current global energy problems ahead of the international climate change talks in Paris in 2015.
Energy storage emerged as a key point of discussion. All agreed that we have the capability to meet technological requirements for generating energy but what is the point without effective energy storage? The speakers recognised the lack of incentive to invest in energy storage and urged governments to support the funding of this essential technology.
However, audience members were enraged by the disregard to political, social and economic issues. Having accused big corporates and consumers for exacerbating the climate problem, citing that the middle class portion of the population is set to double by 2020, those attending the event want to see the Government reigning in environmentally irresponsible behaviour.
Few in the audience seemed content to accept that further injections of money to drive technological advancements will offer a solution any more. Especially given that this will only widen the development gap further. Instead, the notion of political and social reform was pervasive. They pointed the finger at the Government’s lack of urgency to clean up the planet and their failure to put pressure on corporate to re-evaluate their priorities. It was suggested that Government’s should impose licences on corporates to restrict their trade if they do not comply to strict energy standards.
The overall sentiment of the discussion was that the Government still heavily relies upon scientific reports and technology to try engineer their way out of the problem. There are two proposed strategies: continue to look for cheaper, more efficient energy sources or initiate a widespread welfare reform to stir emotions and start the movement from the grassroots. Ideally, both should be done in unison but we are far closer to reaching technological goals than we are to redistributing wealth and creating a bottom-up movement to fight climate change.
The meeting certainly stirred the emotions of the audience, proving that climate change is not an issue to be overlooked. Many are passionate about the cause and fanatically seek a solution. The meeting has created a forum where enthusiasts may deliberate amongst themselves and I hope it will be the first of many.