By Antoine Pradayrol
2019-2020-2021 - Three key years
In 2019, which now seems like a decade ago, the UK Parliament enshrined the country’s target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050; and 2020 was supposed to be the year when the CCC would detail the steps to take over the next decade for the country to be on track to meet that goal - and the year when Glasgow would host the COP26 meeting.
With the pandemic, the COP has been postponed to 2021 - but the UK is still in charge, with Italy as co-host, and the two countries will also respectively host the G7 and the G20 meetings, giving them a chance to act decisively on the global diplomatic scene.
‘Everything has changed, but nothing has changed’
The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdown, with its massive implications notably in terms of reduced travel, both locally and globally, seems to have changed everything in the way we live.
However, climate change is a cumulative problem - so, even if it is true that the lockdown has reduced emissions, this merely means that we are adding less to the stock of greenhouse gases this year - and the stock is still growing. Atmospheric CO2 concentration has just passed 418PPM, versus 350PPM as recently as 1990, and 275PPM in the preindustrial era.
The pandemic has changed nothing at all to the fact that, if we are to avert catastrophic global warming, we need to get to net zero emissions as soon as possible - nor has it changed the commitments taken by the signatories of the Paris agreement in 2015, which aimed at containing global warming to 1.5°C. At the moment, we remain on course for a warming of 3 to 4°C - with catastrophic consequences ahead.
Finally, the efforts that each country has to make to achieve these targets have not changed: completing the energy transition, but also decarbonising major economic sectors such as transport, buildings, industry, as well as land & agriculture.
The big questions
Is the coronavirus crisis just a one-off? It’s unlikely. We can expect an economic recovery, but we will not get back to the point where we started. Irreversible changes will have occurred.
It is too early to know what the ‘new world’ will look like, but Chris gave a few striking examples of things which are unlikely to get back to the ‘old normal’:
The CCC’s six policy priorities for the UK government
A few days ago, the CCC offered advice to the government on how to help the economy recover whilst keeping in line with its climate objectives, outlining six policy priorities:
Finally, in addition to these general policy directions, Chris pointed to a few immediate priorities which would help the country get back in line with its climate objectives and build a more resilient economy:
Overall, Chris’s key message is that the actions that need to be taken to get the world economies out of the current crisis can also be good for the climate - so the governments should not waste this crucial opportunity.
For Green Angel Syndicate, the only network of angel investors in the UK focusing on tackling global warming and climate change, our core belief has always been that the momentous transformation of all sectors of the economy that is required to stop global warming is one of the greatest investment opportunities available today - and we are here to help young, ambitious businesses develop in these different sectors.
In many cases, the coronavirus crisis will accelerate this transition, and help innovative companies; in many others, it might slow them down. But in all cases, Green Angel Syndicate members remain determined to help the entrepreneurs we work with through these incredibly important years.