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Small steps to global change

27 August, 2021

The race to net zero is heating up, with businesses, governments, brands and civil organisations all demonstrating their commitment to meeting the UK’s target of net zero by 2050.

However, what does this mean for all of us, in practice?

The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change released a report this week that outlines the level of public behaviour change needed to meet net zero by 2050. While some newspaper reports suggested that little was needed in the way of fundamental lifestyle changes from the public, the solutions proposed in the report are, in reality, more nuanced than that. The authors hone in on a small number of changes to behaviour that are likely to make the biggest difference to carbon emissions, such as a 6% reduction in distance travelled by air, or a 20% reduction in meat and dairy consumption, both by 2035. And they openly recognise that these are only realistic if the underlying infrastructure continues on a radical path of decarbonisation. However, the report also highlights that the limited public understanding of what net zero is “clearly a problem given the scale and scope of behavioural changes that will be required to deliver net zero”.

Amidst the dramatic, and often, depressing climate news we now face on a daily basis, this report provides a glimmer of hope that net zero is possible, and in a way that the general public would likely be able to stomach. However, we question the reliance on underlying decarbonisation as a given. Investment into green technologies is increasing, however, we are still a long way from where it needs to be. One way to solve this this would be through increasing public pressure on divestments from fossil fuel infrastructure and switching personal finances, including all personal and pension investments, to supporting greener industries.

We all have our part to play. A couple of weeks ago, we wrote how every business decision we make, from now, should be made with a climate lens to give us the best possibly chance of staying within 1.5 degrees planetary warming. This is a crucial behaviour change we can all build into our professional and personal lives, and we stand by this. Achieving net zero by 2050 still only gives us a 50% chance of avoiding the worst effects of climate change, so there really is no time to waste.

By Jennie Mitchell

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