A radical conference to reduce carbon emissions
Now let me make one thing clear. This was not a conference that was designed to be radical, although it may be true that in some ways it was. This was the Tyndall’s Centre’s call to action of academics, climate change scientists and sustainability practitioners. A plea to reach consensus that the action of the last 30 years has not delivered any real reductions in carbon emissions. And that now, more than ever, real change is needed if we are ever to mitigate against the rising emissions that are almost certainly taking us beyond the known ‘safe’ limit of 2 degrees. But we’ve heard this all before haven’t we?
The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research hosted the conference at the Royal Society, London. The conference aimed to get key policy influencers into one room to have a meaningful action focused discussion about how to galvanize policy makers and the wider public to take more urgent, more radical action to reduce carbon emissions. Key-note addresses were given by Caroline Lucas, former leader of the Green Party and -via video from her kitchen in Canada- Naomi Klein, author of ‘No Logo’ and ‘The Shock Doctrine’. Chairs included Andrew Simms from the nef (new economics foundation), Carly McClaughlin and Charlie Wilson (both from Tyndall). Presentations were delivered by a pack-a-punch line-up of Tyndall A-listers and experts. Conformity to the agenda timings made for minimal wastage and the proceedings were excellently executed with chairs who were really able to hold court. The benefit of technological advances in the international jet-setting conference arena was never felt more poignantly with far-away colleagues beamed in for presentations and Q&A’s. It showed that climate converts really can put their money where their mouth is.
The breadth of the conference ranged from a recap of the science, evidence of environmental impacts, insights into behaviours and systems and examples of actions delivered by normal folk that really have led to deep and swift reductions in carbon emissions. The refreshing bit was a general consensus of a few salient points:
- For those who ‘get it’ – the responsibility is ours to address
- Politicians are just like us and if they don’t get it, then it’s up to us to make them
- Social movements do happen, and in ways that we want
- Other campaign groups can be aligned with the environmental movement, but it’s up to us to reach out to the right ones
- There is low hanging fruit and its people. Changing behaviours, generates stakeholders
- There are quick wins which should just be won
- Some small action is better than talking about bigger action
So I’ll keep it brief, links to the presentations are here:
http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/communication/news-archive/2013/radical-emissions-reduction-conference-videos-now-online. The 2 day session was streamed live with more than 60 individuals joining on each day. The Twitter feed was constant. There were no break-out groups which means that subject to interpretation, all those who attended heard the same message, delivered at the same time and in the same way. If ambiguity has been part of the problem of inertia, then this format cleverly side-stepped it.
And so what next? Well, assuming those that are reading this are part of the ‘get it’ contingent, then this is a prompt to connect with others that do, and to act. Tell your friends, recycle more, think about putting a jumper on before you put the heating on, goad others when they don’t. For Tyndall, I hope that this will form the basis of action. Real impactful action.