Britain should look at taking solutions that already exist and implementing them at scale and at pace instead of waiting for “shiny new technological fixes” to move towards a low carbon economy and tackle climate change.
That’s the view of Harriet Lamb, CEO of Ashden, a London-based charity that works in the field of sustainable energy and development, who says ministers need to “step up” the policies and implement them to meet the 2050 net zero goal.
She believes the government should do more towards the greener transition and aim for net zero carbon emissions by 2030 instead: “I think if you give yourself until 2050, well, you know, let’s go have a cup of tea and let’s do a bit of brainstorming, whereas if you’re really feeling the emergency, then you need to take fast and bold action.
“So I think they should set the bar high and that will then drive the action that they need because if you said ‘we’ve got to be net zero by 2030’, that would make sure you put in place the incentives, the policies, the subsides, the tax changes that you need to drive some of those behaviour changes.
“And I think in the way you do that though, it is absolutely critical, that we take people with us because if we don’t, then there will be a backlash… It must be done in a way that helps people understand how it can benefit them, that works with them through decentralised initiatives involving communities.”
Ms Lamb added it must be a “just transition”, which looks out for people who will lose out and ensures they get the skills “for the new industries of the future”.
The Ashden Trust, established in 1989, is one of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, with priorities including tackling climate change and sustainable development.
Ashden promotes and supports sustainable energy enterprises from around the world, including those that boost renewable energy generation, help reduce energy demand, increase access to energy or encourage more sustainable forms of transport, through its annual awards event.
When asked about her response to critics who say the initiative is just a corporate social responsibility fad, Ms Lamb added: “I believe you should celebrate every single positive move any company ever makes to make the world more sustainable and fairer.
“So if they start to do Fairtrade or if they start to reduce their packaging, the plastic packaging, you have to celebrate it and say ‘brilliant and now what are you going to do next?’ Because people get energised and infused if they get positive feedback from their customers.”
She said the COP26 climate summit, which the UK looks set to host in 2020, is the next opportunity for the world to come together, reinforce their commitments and go “much, much further” on tackling climate change.
Watch the full interview to find out more.