Last weekend as I looked up at a clear blue sky and savoured the atmosphere my thoughts were suddenly clouded by considering whether this glorious weather was down to climate change. I don’t know about you but I found myself moved by the demonstrations held in London and Dublin by the Extinction Rebels. What I think has been particularly interesting is the attention that has been devoted to the issues they raised in the Business Sections of several publications. Finally, I said to myself this might be registering where it really counts, in the financial markets.
The statistics are frightening. Despite the fact that wind, solar and hydro made up 45% of the new electricity capacity added in 2018, 81% of primary energy is still provided by fossil fuels. Coal is a major source of CO2 emissions. According to the International Energy Agency, China burns twice the amount annually as the rest of the world put together. There are 2,500 coal burning power stations in the world but even more depressing than that there are plans to build hundreds more in South-East Asia. This is nothing short of global vandalism.
The scale of the problem is daunting. The scientific evidence of a potential catastrophe is mounting. Over the years I have written about this subject but now I really do feel it is time to act. We must put pressure on our politicians to drive a green agenda. Unfortunately our record is not good to such an extent that we are in danger of being fined by the E.U. Perhaps for a start we can raise climate change with the euro candidates and their canvassers as they come knocking on our doors. Ask them what they are going to do to pursue a green agenda. If you bump into any Cabinet Ministers you might ask them why the ban on burning coal promised by Alan Kelly when a Minister hasn’t been delivered. We can start driving climate change up the political agenda. We owe it to future generations.
This all sounds too big to deal with but there is a growing school of thought that if governments and business collectively drive technological innovation to develop alternatives to fossil fuels we have some hope of averting catastrophe. However, to achieve this type of scenario will also involve some revolutionary changes to how we run our economics and even order our social systems. This will require courage and real leadership. Quite frankly, at the moment I see too much inertia and fear of rocking the system. Extinction Rebellion rock on.