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Lord Deben talks about the climate crisis

I sat through a fascinating talk from Lord Deben last week at a conference we organised for our customers, and he based his whole speech around the topic of certainty.

As a businessman himself, he knows that companies need as much certainty as possible to thrive and to give them more flexibility for the uncertain things that life will always throw up.

As a former MP, John Selwyn-Gummer also knows that politicians are not always able to provide that certainty, as they too are operating in a world that constantly shifts and changes.

So, he started to look at the certainties that we can all be sure of, and this is where the audience started to really pay attention.

His final point about certainty is that there is still time to stop the world from overheating.

Russell Jones Russell Jones Content and Communications Manager

Change is certain

His first certainty was that the Climate Crisis is only going to get worse.

He talked about studies of ice cores from the Antarctic that show peaks and troughs in world temperatures for hundreds of thousands of years. 

Today’s events are vastly difference because temperatures are continuing to climb, and climb, and climb, and this has never happened before.

Lord Deben then mentioned immigration and migration, and to paraphrase him he felt that if we thought migration of people around the globe was an ‘issue’ now, then we needed to understand what would happen when deserts like the Sahara double in size, and more farming land is lost to drought.

And that’s before we even talk about land loss through rising sea levels that will also impact on where people can live and how we grow the food we all need to survive.

The public are certainly changing

Lord Deben recounted a battle he had with the Treasury in the late 1980’s about climate change, when he was a Minister serving in the Thatcher government and a subsequent discussion he had with the ‘Iron Lady’. Mrs Thatcher told him that there were only two people in government who believed in the climate crisis, and they were her and him!

Whilst awareness has changed somewhat in the intervening years, he was brutally honest about how much Government pays attention to individual businesses (who don’t have a vote), compared to the electorate (who do).

So, his next area of certainty is the certainty that politicians will now start to focus more on climate change because their ‘customers’ (i.e. the voters who keep them gainfully employed), are starting to really notice climate change and this will drive the politicians to do more.

It may not be at the pace we want or need, but it will happen, and he felt that Britain was in danger of falling behind countries like America, which has made a ‘green’ economy such a major focus, and the rest of Europe – which he reminded everyone is our biggest and most local market for our goods and services.

End of Gas

Lord Deben was concerned about the lack of pace but felt that this would change once we are able to rise above all the ‘noise’ and spoiling tactics from antiquated fossil-fuel technologies and vested interests.

This will clear the way for renewable technologies such as air-to-air and air-to-water heat pumps to realise their full potential and help deliver the modern levels of comfort we have come to expect, in much more sustainable ways that won’t cost the earth.

However, he also added a note of caution that whatever we ask people to do to get us to net zero, it must be achievable and we must not “ask people to do something they can’t”, otherwise it won’t happen.

Lord Deben was a guest speaker at our commercial HVAC conference and everyone I spoke to during lunch and the coffee breaks was full of praise for his speech.

His final point about certainty is that there is still time to make a difference and stop the world from overheating, so whilst this is not certain, we can have confidence that net zero by 2050 is possible.

What is certain though, is that we have the technologies and the trained engineers with the right skillset available right now.

What we need is more awareness of the possibilities and the opportunities, and a shared drive to increase the number of renewable systems and low-carbon buildings out there.

Russell Jones is content and communications manager