As the dust settles on 2016, here at the Grantham Institute we are looking ahead at the hot topics in climate change and the environment for the coming year.
Is air pollution more deserving of attention than ocean acidification? Should researchers in the United Kingdom focus on British problems like flooding adaptation, or are droughts in the Middle East a more pressing concern? Does national politics hold the balance of power, or do we rely on people’s private interests to lead the way?
We want help the members of our community to identify opportunities to work together, by sharing our priorities and objectives where we can. We are inviting organisations and policy players, in the UK and worldwide, to share one of two of your key topics or areas that you will be giving priority to in 2017. Leave a comment below, and we will feature a selection in our weekly update newsletter on 17 January.
7 thoughts on “Have your say: What are your most pressing environment and climate change priorities for 2017?”
The key issue is the fact that the most plausible prospect for global action to arrest carbon emissions is far below what’s needed to hold to 2 degrees. This will only change when the world’s people understand and fear the consequences of the current trajectory. Therefore, the most compelling work must be done in laying out for all to understand precisely those consequences. It must be done in ways that make the future palpably fearful in the present. Bevis Longstreth
Local energy is an increasingly important area of research and practical activity, and one which is as relevant in the UK as overseas. We need to better understand how people can take ownership of energy – both literally as owners of generating assets and in terms of ‘democratising’ energy as an issue.
Decarbonisation of heat and transport have to be the other climate mitigation priorities. This needs to include real-world piloting and roll-out of projects in communities.
For me, 2017 must also be the year we lay the foundations for the next UK climate change risk assessment. We need research on heat stress and overheating, and on flood risk. If we can get ahead of the game on priorities for the next CCRA then we will be very well placed to understand climate risk and recommend adaptation action for the next cycle of national adaptation planning.
I agree – ownership of local energy seems to me to be a profound social and cultural shift. If nothing else ownership of your own energy supply makes a lot of difference to how you feel about the infrastructure that is needed to deliver it.
I do wonder though what renewable energy (I guess I really mean electricity) means for a big city like London. Here the energy will have to be generated elsewhere so ownership is almost inevitably going to be something very different from that which would be relevant in a village. Is this where ownership of energy supply reverts to a centralised organisation (the City?) or is there some other solution?
On the broader environment, the most meaningful thing the UK could do would be to join the 180 MPs who have signed Greener UK’s pledge for the environment (http://www.green-alliance.org.uk/GreenerUK.php). This asks the UK to commit to match or exceed the UK’s current environmental standards as we leave the EU.
On climate specifically, the priority for government should be to give renewables the final bit of support they need to become subsidy free, by agreeing a levy control framework for the 2020s of an additional £2bn – roughly a quarter of the size of the last LCF. As it stands, renewables investment is set to fall by 95% by 2020 (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/04/renewables-investment-uk-fall-95-percent-three-years-study-subsidy-cuts-emissions-targets).
Large scale trials of heat supply options (hydrogen, district heat, and heat pumps), alongside a new set of efficiency regulations are also needed to test out how to cut emissions from heating.
A priority has to be how we communicate and who we communicate to. What a difference it would make if we were as effective talking to other organisations and people as we are talking to each other.
Let’s speak business rather than science to the business community, for instance. Can we adapt our language to different audiences while keeping our message consistent and fluent?
What accessible terminology will not turn off audiences in the way that the phrase ‘Climate Change’ seems to?
If we can ensure businesses, organisations, communities and individuals recognise all the ways climate science already feeds into their everyday lives, will they then be more open to hearing about climate change, mitigation adaptation and the difference they can make? Our environment and climate science are part of everyone’s everyday lives, therefore they need to be part of everyone’s everyday news. We can make that news.
The key priority for 2017 should be bringing topics together, rather than creating further division and separation.
We can do so much collaboratively rather than creating and perpetuating separate tracks for different hazards such as floods and pollution, for different hazard drivers such as climate change and ENSO, or for different development topics such as health and livelihoods. This is not avoiding or denigrating specialism and expertise. It is saying that specialists and experts are essential and must continue, but that we need to work together for common goals within common frameworks, especially so that we support and understand each other. There is far too much jargon–with examples being adaptation, resilience, security, and transformation–all of which can have different meanings for different people and different contexts.
Some thoughts on reducing the complicated vocabulary are at https://mahb.stanford.edu/blog/transforming-transformation and https://mahb.stanford.edu/blog/keep-resilience-language-simple Academic papers on linking all the pressing topics are at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11069-016-2294-0 and http://http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13753-015-0038-5
Let’s use 2017 to come together for strength, not to create silos and to mark territories making us all weaker.
Raising awareness about soil erosion; we are losing about one percent of arable land each year due to soil erosion.