This week alone we’ve seen protests on the streets of London, the broadcast of Sir David Attenborough’s new climate change documentaryon the BBC (featuring the utterly inspirational Greta Thunberg) and we look forward to Earth Day on Monday.
Clearly the aim of these activities is to dramatically shift the dial around what should be done – and soon – to combat climate change, with many pinning their hopes on achieving the same sense of urgency and scale that Blue Planet II did for single-use plastics.
The worrying thing is we have known about the severity of global warming for years, decades even. Climate change is the defining issue of our era, certainly for our industry. It is both a global and a local issue and we can be a significant part of the solution.
Yet the energy system is still out of date – largely based on fossil fuels and large, distant power stations. It remains incredibly wasteful. We need a transformational, not incremental, response.
Because the majority of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions are from the production and consumption of energy – whether that’s driving cars, vans and lorries, manufacturing goods or simply heating our homes. It can only be lowered if we all become more energy efficient and switch to low-carbon energy sources.
That means a future where we use less, and what we use comes from lower carbon sources, a future for the next generation.
We should start by increasing the rate of energy efficiency installations to millions of homes up and down the country – making energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority. Imagine making every home, business and even city energy efficient; putting solar panels on every roof, providing access to electric vehicle charging and local, renewable generation to all.
The energy revolution is under way and we’ve a big part to play in this. Building lasting relationships with customers and designing products and solutions that deliver value today, tomorrow and beyond.
The next opportunity is helping our customers to have greater control over the energy they need; generating and even storing renewable at home or in business through solar and battery options, heat pumps and electric vehicle tariffs, greater efficiency in business management and community-scale district heating schemes, helping to create smart sustainable homes, businesses and cities.
We’re now using our expertise to partner with developers and local authorities and provide solutions that enable them to deliver their sustainable strategies. Improving air quality and transforming and regenerating their cities with innovative renewable technologies and enabling the electrification of transport. Creating sustainable and cleaner cities that are great to live, work, play, where existing businesses thrive and new businesses invest.
Michael Lewis is Chief Executive of E.ON UK