On Friday the UK went 24 hours without using energy generated by coal – for the first time since 1882. It has been described as a watershed moment and a good sign for plans to phase out coal power stations by 2025.
Elsewhere the news on climate change is not looking so good. The Elders, a group of veteran independent global leaders, wrote to the G20 leaders urging “bold and decisive action” on climate change. They were concerned that climate change might be slipping from the agenda when there was no mention of it having been raised in a recent meeting of finance ministers and bank governors from the G20. The letter urged it be looked at in the next meeting.
Of particular concern is fossil fuel subsidies and that they should be phased out – reminding politicians of the Paris Agreement on limiting global warming. The Elders want the G20 to commit to getting rid of fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.
There is concern that limiting the production of energy from the most obviously available source could in turn limit economies, particularly in developing countries, and hold back their progress. Britain, the United States and Europe used the coal-powered Industrial Revolution to catapult their productivity and economies to another level very rapidly.
It’s an understandable concern but investment in renewable energy sources is money well spent both now and in the future. Climate change is responsible for increasing numbers of humanitarian crises, creating disruption and refugees. This will only get worse if it is not tackled and will affect the poorest people in the world, particularly in southern Asia in countries like Bangladesh which is subject to terrible flooding, and drought and famine across central Africa.
In tackling climate change we also see innovative solutions and entrepreneurship spring up. There are projects training solar panel installers in rural Africa and new business opportunities. At the Gardiner Foundation we encourage people to seek out these opportunities and have a micro-investment initiative set up to help build businesses that can lift individuals, families and communities out of poverty in a sustainable way both for them and the environment.