In a recent webinar with dozens of other professionals working in the sector of environmental protection, I asked the question : if so many of us are working to save the environment, how come the environment is getting worse every day ? Does this mean we all failed? Should we pack up and forget it ? After all, as the UN has reported, pledges to cut global emissions will only achieve a 1% reduction by 2030, against the 45% needed to meet the 1.5c target. We’re failing, aren’t we?
The question was obviously a provocation but as Sir David Attenborough warned last month, we are on the verge of an ecological collapse with disastrous consequences for humanity and that to avoid this we must change immediately. As I have written in these pages before, the time for talk was over a long time ago, now is the time for action.
In February Bill Gates published his manifesto on how to turn climate change around and picked up on themes we have written about many times: the financial allocation of costs and benefits. If we assume that polluting is a cost -free activity, we will pollute. If we do not allocate benefits to industries and nations reducing pollution, those industries will struggle. So we see the devastation of the Amazon rainforests occur because that damage is not accounted for; we see global GHG emissions rise, because emitting is cheap or zero cost. Yet our nations hypocritically sign pledges (such as the Paris Climate Treaty) not to do that.
Of course this is not the whole story. The positive signs are everywhere. Carbon taxes are now applied on about 25% of global emissions; the race to renewable energy is so fast it is overcoming our ability to keep up with the transmission infrastructure; national pledges to “carbon zero” or “carbon neutral” within the next decades are more than even the most optimist of us would have thought possible 5 years ago; the USA is now back in the Paris Treaty; COP26 this year should see agreement on the final sticking points to begin the full implementation of the Treaty, including financial mechanisms (the Article 6).
Our industry will play its role. On March 29th we will present our long awaited report, the Pathways to 2030, indicating what needs to be done to fulfil the potential biogas has to reduce global GHG emissions by around 10%. Few other sectors can do that, provide investments, jobs, clean up our air, provide nutrients for soil, reduce the hazard of waste and reduce GHG emissions while providing energy 24/7.
We need all to pledge to actions to ensure that each of us, as companies and individuals, plays our part in meeting the Paris targets. Ask yourself, are you doing enough ? Could your company do better ? And be honest, most of us could. See you March 29th.
President, World Biogas Association