Are we winning?
Regular readers may have noticed a rather upbeat tone to my posts here recently. And for good reason. Renewables starting to take big chunks out of the energy budget (15.5% of electricity in the UK last quarter), more renewables are coming on stream, electric vehicles starting to look like winners (sales up 447% in the US, Tesla sedan and Leaf hitting top of car sales in Norway), a semi-circular economy (waste to landfill falling) – the good news keeps on coming.
But I must admit I was worried I was overdoing it – surely the big picture is still worsening? Well, last week we got the news that the rise in carbon emissions is ‘slowing down’ due to “the use of less fossil fuels, more renewable energy and increased energy savings” in a way that the researchers involved believe is permanent, not a blip.
So, are we winning?
Not yet. Emissions are still rising (hitting a record last year), we are likely to have used our carbon budget by 2034 (according to PwC) and there is plenty of bad news about. But it does look as if the brakes are starting to come on carbon in particular and, in the economy, the momentum is swinging in our direction. And I think we should celebrate. Yes, celebrate.
Many people believe that there’s a risk of people sitting on their laurels when good news come through and that we should keep up the doom-mongering (stand up, numerous NGOs and take a bow). But in my experience it is despair and feelings of helplessness that freeze progress, not success. We are competitive people – when we achieve a goal we tend to celebrate then press on with enthusiasm to do even better – otherwise nobody would ever start level 2 of any computer game.
Every win you, me or they make is a small step towards a sustainable society – a noble goal. So, yes, let’s pat ourselves on our collective backs, smile, then psyche ourselves up to take on the next challenge with relish!