The low-carbon revolution is not going to happen by itself, says Andrew Pendleton. In this week’s Green Room, he calls on governments put the necessary frameworks in place that will allow the private sector to roll out the technologies needed to deliver the ambitious cuts in emissions.
In the early 1980s, consultants McKinsey completed a study for a US telecoms company predicting there would be fewer than one million wireless subscribers in the US by the turn of the century.
Today, nearly 2.5bn subscribers across the globe are using digital wireless technologies for voice, email, internet access, music and video services.
The firm is now at the forefront of predicting how different, climate-friendly technologies will help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions and at what cost.
In general, its message is helpful and optimistic suggesting, as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair argued recently, that much of the technology we need to fight climate change in the next decade is within our grasp.
However, we should be wary of predictions based on the status quo.
Last week, the UK government published an ambitious plan for transforming the British economy into one that is not only powered by low-carbon technology, but whose transport, housing and manufacturing are climate-friendly too.
The plan is to be applauded, as it signals a significant shift in climate policy from the lofty ideals of the climate change bill.
Its emissions reduction targets also suggest an approach that might best be termed “getting down to business”.
The plan is certain to come in for some stick; and probably from several different angles at once.
The green campaigners, while broadly welcoming it, are generally of the view that it does not go far enough.
The acknowledgement that implementing the plan will increase household energy bills leaves the government open to attack from political opponents and consumer groups. Certainly, one could quibble with some of the detail.
However, the message sent out by the very existence of a centrally planned, government-led, economy-wide response to climate change is loud and will be heard beyond Britain’s shores.
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