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Maintaining public support for the energy transition

During COP26, our Head of Sustainability Rebecca McLean joined other key sustainability experts at a special panel event in Glasgow’s Energy Transition Hub. You can replay the session below, and read some of Becky’s key thoughts on the topics discussed.

With thanks to the event hosts Copper Consultancy

On inspiring action…

If people feel scared, they’re less likely to try and take action. I think it’s right that we recognise the issues that we’re facing – there’s no beating about the bush anymore – but how can we change some of our behaviours?  We need to inspire and provide a vision of what the world could look like if everybody gets on board.

On making a ‘real life’ difference…

Net Zero represents where we want to get to, but we can’t just look at carbon alone. There’s a danger that it becomes a bean-counting exercise, focusing on purely reduction/offsetting. We need to make sure we are not just considering carbon and focusing on counting it.

But is that really going to give us the ‘real life’ vision we talked about earlier, of a more equal society with thriving ecosystems and biodiversity? We know for example that water quality in the UK has decreased significantly last 5 years, so while we’re focusing on some environmental issues but not all of them. We need to look at things in a much wider sphere – not only how we get to Net Zero but also look at the wider community and how we can make the world function better as a whole…restoring what we’ve degraded over a lifetime.

On whether people can ‘afford to care’…

If you’re struggling to feed your children, and you don’t have enough money to keep your family warm and safe, it’s really hard to care about the longer-term future. We need to address inequality in our society as we address the bigger climate questions.

On focusing on behaviours…

There has to be a lot of thought around behaviour change. Take EV cars for example – a great idea and the right way to go, but they won’t solve our congestion issues. What we really need to solve is the problem of people needing to drive as much as they do. Can we promote the 15 minute city instead – lots of people have learned how to live in their local area during COVID, which will hopefully encourage local service where people actually live – shopping and relaxing more locally without having to jump in their cars.

On optimism…

I like to be an eternal optimist – for me a lot of the solutions are quite simple…nature actually gifts us a lot of the answers when you look closely. Generally people want to do better and they want a fairer, more equal society. There’s more good in the world than bad, so if we can draw people in and engage them, we can create a really nice world for everybody to live in.Whether it’s carbon, energy, water….looking at it all together we can really inspire the older, current and future generations to play a positive role in getting us to where we need to be.

More on the energy transition: Sweco Urban Insight


How can you contribute to energy transition? Read the full Sweco Urban Insight report here.