On Thursday 25th April, hundreds of climate change campaigners dispersed from the streets of London, following 11 days of protests. The Extinction Rebellion movement saw activists from all over the world take to the capital to make their voices heard about the global climate change “emergency”.
Although some people, particularly commuters, voiced their frustration and anger at the disruption, we cannot deny that urgent action is needed to tackle the issue and it is vital we do not lose sight of the bigger picture. So, what exactly was the point in all of this and what impact has it had?
According to Extinction Rebellion’s website, the movement has three aims. Firstly, it wants the UK government to tell the truth about the scale of the ecological crisis by declaring a climate emergency, working with groups and institutions to communicate the urgent need for change.
Secondly, the group wants the government to introduce new policy measures to drastically reduce carbon emissions and consumption levels, hitting net zero by 2025. And finally, Extinction Rebellion wants to see the creation of a national citizens’ assembly to help shape and devise future policies aimed at tackling the climate crisis. But are these demands realistic?
An optimistic outlook?
For some, asking politicians to tell the truth may seem like a radical ask. But through pressure from the likes of the Extinction Rebellion movement and environmentally focused businesses such as NetZero Buildings, increasing numbers of politicians, councils and local authorities are starting to acknowledge the scale and severity of the threat, as well as what it will realistically take to address it.
A citizens’ assembly would help lend public legitimacy to what will need to be a radical overhaul of our society if we are to tackle these climate issues. However, although this proved successful in tackling the 2016 issue of abortion in Ireland, the idea has not yet gained any real traction in Westminster.
Hitting zero carbon emissions by 2025 also looks unlikely – some may even say impossible. At present, the UK’s current goal is to reduce emissions by 80% by 2045 (a target it is not currently on track for), so becoming net zero by 2025 seems unrealistic. To do so would require a complete overhaul of our society in just six years – fundamentally changing everything from transport and food production to domestic and industrial energy systems.
However, there is hope. This week the Committee on Climate Change announced its revised targets in a report commissioned by the government – proposing that the UK should aim to cut emissions to net zero by 2050.
Many organisations, including large-scale corporations, are also looking for ways to make their operations more energy efficient and kinder to the environment – helping to reduce both their carbon consumption and emission levels. While others are busy developing new, radically efficient solutions to overhaul traditional systems.
One such organisation is NetZero Buildings. The manufacturer has pioneered the off-site construction sector to produce buildings with a substantially negative net carbon contribution, which generate clean energy through renewable sources and reverse the effects of climate change.
Unlike traditional on-site manufacturing, materials for off-site construction are received without packaging and up to 90% fewer vehicle movements are required – meaning the process itself, not just the finished build, is also more energy efficient.
The Extinction Rebellion protests come just a couple of months after thousands of students from schools, colleges and universities went on strike all around the UK, calling on the government to take active steps to tackle the climate change crisis. Notable public figures such as Sir David Attenborough have also warned of the existential threat climate change poses to humanity and our planet.
These recent events represent a tipping point. Media coverage has been widespread, and many will argue that those in power can no longer ignore the truth about the climate crisis – and the existential threat it poses to humanity – now that it is in the public domain.
Equally, organisations also need to accept the role they play in the fight against climate change. Innovative solutions are needed if the UK is to have any hope of reaching net zero and this is where forward-thinking organisations such as NetZero Buildings are leading the way.
Although the focus of the protests was on inciting the government to take action and change policy, it is vital for businesses, councils and politicians to all work together to build a more energy-efficient and sustainable future.
To find out how NetZero Buildings is continuing to develop award-winning schools and homes without leaving a carbon footprint, get in touch.