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It’s time to be inspired! Day 2 of the CBI Net Zero Conference

Fantastic to attend Day 2 of the CBI’s Net Zero conference on September 15th. There was so much to take in, but here are our main three highlights.

1) Climate change is a generation defining issue

We heard from the impressive Nicola Shaw CBE, Executive Director at National Grid, who outlined that the decisions we make today, now, are directly influencing what the planet is set to look like for our children and grandchildren. National Grid has set their set zero target for 2050 but stated that the only thing hampering things are the consistent lack of regulation and legislation at government and international level.

At Surya our view backs this as we have been waiting for years to see a step change in this kind of behaviour, instead we see more consumer protection and caps. However, the pandemic is changing this and is accelerating thinking as people see the benefits of cleaner air, less pollution and more money in pockets working from home.

The Environment Agency’s Emma Howard-Boyd also said that all investment-related activity must now take into consideration climate patterns such as floods, increased temperature, droughts and also areas such as quality of water.

We firmly agree – without putting nature at the heart of any investment cycle it’s literally like burning money.

2) Innovation is our ‘get out of jail’ on climate change – and UK holds the keys

Hydrogen is being seen as a ‘mythical unicorn’ – the water energy that creates negative carbon is ready to launch, so why are we not launching it? Solar is ideal for countryside but in places like London we need to provide choice.

The UK needs to make strides now to showcase what has already been done and do more in the next year relating to new energy sources ahead of the COP26 in Glasgow. This in turn creates a purpose-led economy and green jobs.

Creating competitive environments will lead to new technologies being produced in Britain. Our view is that capital investment is required to push infrastructure re in the right direction.

People will continue to be at the centre of this process and getting the right pipeline from primary education level onward is central to future success.

3) Data is everything – the pandemic is teaching us how to use it

A real highlight was Juliet Davenport, CEO of Good Energy, who raised the issue of how data needs to be used to inform our decision making. This is evidenced by the fact that while the energy sector is making strides in changing, other industry areas such as transport have increased Co2 year-on-year. Following understanding how the data works, communication is central to winning hearts and minds on how to create sustainable change.

We are seeing throughout the renewables sector and increased drive to enable change but how much more is there still to do?

Keith Anderson, CEO of Scottish Power, had some answers. His view to ‘electrify everything’ was about the sector being bolder and encouraging much increased investment to enable us to stop burning pol and gas and to stop using things like heat pumps.

Our main takeaways:

We need to make the UK a superpower in tech and climate change by investing in skills. We must work hard to retain our homegrown talent and to attract it from abroad by protecting our R&D and universities.

Decarbonising leads to protecting jobs, it creates jobs and it supports jobs! We are already leaders in offshore wind – we have 1/3 of the global market – so let’s do it again with hydrogen.

Finally, with Brexit looming, let’s not just look outward and wait for the US or China and India to come to our rescue. We need to get the green recovery going and make sure that we build back greener and be better than ever.

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This post was written by sarahrice

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