A five-point plan to unleash “build back greener”

A five-point plan to unleash “build back greener”

We hope that the Prime Minister uses his forthcoming 10-point plan to demonstrate clear ambition on, and pathways to, the various existing and future low-carbon technologies that will need to be developed, deployed and scaled in the 2020s. This decade will prove critical in the fight against climate change and should be defined by UK leadership, thanks to the country’s Presidency of COP26.

A detailed 10-point plan, however, may prove unwieldy in both policy development and delivery, as well as difficult to communicate to audiences. We believe that actions and inclusive messaging around fewer, more realistic policies are essential to ensuring the buy-in and cooperation of the public, alongside industry and government departments.

We have therefore produced a five-point plan to highlight those vital policy measures and technologies that can be swiftly unleashed by government in what is likely to be a short decade, as the UK seeks to up the tempo on cracking the net-zero puzzle.

1. By 2021, the Government should publish a public-facing net-zero roadmap for the UK, and a supporting communications programme, alongside the net-zero strategy.

Madano Analysis: With the UK holding the COP26 Presidency, the Prime Minister and the government can build a climate change-focused legacy and demonstrate global leadership. Combined with a net-zero strategy, a public-facing roadmap and communications programme needs to be developed. This will outline the leadership that government is taking to equitably tackle climate change and how the public will need to modify its behaviour for the country to reach net zero by 2050. This roadmap could feed into the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda by outlining clear guidance and investment.

The UK requires an ambitious framework that outlines the policies and fiscal/regulatory levers that will be used to develop and scale low-carbon technologies by 2030. The forthcoming net-zero strategy should be published in early 2021 and demonstrate the benefits of low-carbon technologies to the regions, deliver the confidence required by industry and give government departments the framework needed to consult on interlinked policies.

2. The Government should unleash the offshore wind and solar sectors in the 2020s by removing artificial targets and current regulatory constraints imposed by the nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIP) process.

Madano Analysis: There is concern that the Prime Minister’s promise to raise the target for offshore wind power capacity from 30GW to 40GW by 2030 could be viewed as a cap. Electricity generated from wind may only account for 24 per cent of household energy demand in 2030, given our appetite for electricity-hungry appliances and the increasing preference to work from home. The upcoming Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction could raise £20bn+ of investment, and government and industry will need to capitalise on this windfall if the PM’s claim that wind could power all homes by 2030 is at all feasible.

A government framework is required to give the solar industry confidence and harness those advancements that can optimise existing assets. The first step should be to streamline the NSIP process which constrains the development of assets exceeding 50MW without considering technological upgrades that enable these assets to generate higher outputs on the same area of land used. Restructuring this process would allow the upgrade of existing assets that could unlock several clean GW for the grid by 2030.

3. The Government should facilitate the widespread rollout of a small modular reactor (SMR) programme and a novel siting assessment for new reactors, with the aim of deploying an SMR by the end of 2030.

Madano Analysis:

While the Prime Minister has declared that UK household electricity needs will be met by offshore wind in 2030 (projected to be only one-third of the UK’s electricity demand), the Government should take the opportunity to further the development of SMRs and AMRs to pick up demand that wind may struggle to supply. A fleet of SMRs can be deployed across the UK, providing locally embedded low carbon energy generation, and when manufacturing for export is considered, this presents a long-term opportunity for the UK, and the UK nuclear supply chain. These technologies also present an opportunity to help decarbonise heavy industries with dedicated power plants providing low carbon heat and power, and produce clean hydrogen, which could be the building block of tomorrow’s low carbon economy.

A crucial step to realising the SMR opportunity is the development of a rationalised planning framework that would enable the rapid siting and deployment of SMRs at trial stages, without their being lost in the regulatory and public consultation web that has stymied large-build, new nuclear sites.

4. The Government should establish two industrial hydrogen clusters in the north of England and Scotland by 2025, and six more clusters by 2030 across the UK.

Madano Analysis: Currently, the government is heavily focused on hydrogen production, as the UK hydrogen strategy will outline. Understanding the demand profiles for this resource, across a swathe of end-uses, has proven difficult for government and industry. Support for two industrial hydrogen clusters by 2025, which feature large-scale demonstrator pilots, will offer a stronger indication of demand and opportunities for the early adoption of hydrogen. Moreover, understanding which technologies can be easily deployed in these sandboxes will drive costs down for both production and demand. Placing these clusters in the north of England and in Scotland will create high-quality jobs in strategically important regions and serve to buttress the Government’s ambitions to ‘level-up’ communities across the UK.

5. The Government should establish a 2030 plan for the development of tidal energy in the UK.

Madano Analysis: The UK has established a substantial offshore wind sector, but tidal energy remains untapped potential. Tidal is a potentially significant source of low-carbon, reliable energy, but faces one major barrier: high construction costs, especially due to the lack of experience at scale. But with current borrowing costs relatively low, it may never be cheaper for the government to invest in the development of a tidal energy industry in the UK and, if action is taken quickly, the UK can seize a first-mover advantage in this sector. A clear plan from government on the development and delivery of tidal energy should be a priority for the 2020s and would work to shore up and benefit the economies of coastal communities in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Our short, yet targeted, plan outlines those actions that the Government should take now, if it wishes to ‘jump start’ the UK’s drive towards net-zero through the 2020s and reach its goals by 2030.

Crucially, measures that support existing and developing low-carbon technologies must be closely aligned with other significant issues, such as ‘levelling up’, and be steeped in an overarching and inclusive narrative that outlines the impacts and benefits of the energy transition to all.

Madano advises clients across the energy sector– if you’re interested in learning more please drop our team a line at MadanoEnergyPractice@madano.com.

By James Watson, Senior Account Executive, and the team in Madano’s Energy practice.

Johnson takes to the wind

Johnson takes to the wind

Expectations across the energy sector were high yesterday, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s gave his “winds of change” vision for the energy sector by committing the Government to the modest target of increasing offshore wind power capacity from 30 GW to 40 GW, by 2030. He breezily claimed that this source of low carbon energy could generate enough electricity to power all the UK’s homes within a decade.

Alongside this pledge, the Prime Minister promised £160m to upgrade ports and infrastructure for building turbines and boosting offshore wind capacity, which he claimed will create 2,000 jobs in construction and support 60,000 more. We will, according to the Prime Minister, see 1 GW of floating wind turbines hove into view by 2030, too.

The Prime Minister’s backing for offshore wind is not a major surprise in and of itself, given the Government’s focus on tackling climate change in much of its messaging. And given the scale of investment announced yesterday is modest by international standards, industry will be looking for much more in the Government’s 10-point “Build Back Greener” plan if the UK is to establish itself as the ‘Saudi Arabia’ of wind power and renewable energy more broadly.

The Prime Minister’s lofty assertion that offshore wind, alone, can solve a large part of the energy question should be taken with a large pinch of sea salt or viewed as a symptom of his broad brush, oratorical style. His claim that offshore wind could power all the UK’s homes by 2030 omitted to mention that homes account for only about a third of power use. The Government is well aware that wind is only one piece of the testing net zero puzzle and that other low carbon energy sources, such as solar and nuclear power, will need support to scale up and meet the needs of wider energy challenge.

While the Prime Minister’s press release did take the opportunity to breathe fresh life into the Government’s plans for renewables by indicating that the Government will set a 2021 target to “double the capacity of renewable energy in the next Contracts for Difference auction,” he provided little detail on its proposals for solar, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, energy efficiency or nuclear power.

Still, we can be confident that this announcement is the first stage of the “Build Back Greener” plan for a green industrial revolution from the Government, with No 10 promising further, concrete details later this year to “accelerate our progress towards net zero emissions by 2050.” There are conflicting reports on the date that this plan will be published, with both late October and late November suggested.

The long-delayed Energy White Paper is also reportedly set to be published this month. The paper will outline the Government’s approach to delivering its net zero target and will hopefully clear the air on various issues, such as large-scale nuclear, and provide confidence to the renewables sector that has weathered COVID-19 admirably and produced record-breaking levels of low-carbon energy.

To our mind, what is most notable from this policy announcement is not its content but the fact that a commitment to offshore wind is the headline announcement of a Prime Minister at the Conservative Party Conference, during a time of public health and economic crisis.

Whatever the rationale behind this decision, it confirms that addressing climate change has much greater importance for this Government compared to recent predecessors.

Written by James Watson, Madano.

Green recovery – what is it and what can we do to shape it?

Green recovery – what is it and what can we do to shape it?

After the downturn comes the recovery. At least that’s the theory of how things should pass.

Over the past few months, Government and industry have spoken out on the urgent need for a green recovery based on investment, jobs and growth in the UK’s burgeoning low-carbon sector.

The message has been delivered and Government has sought to get on the front foot by bringing leading industry players around the virtual roundtable in recent weeks to determine what the green recovery should look like and the support mechanisms that need to go into it.

The wider context of the green recovery extends further than a reflex response to the post-COVID-19 world as the Government has promised to level up Britain’s regions, increase productivity, deliver on the many Brexit promises and ultimately create a world-beating net zero economy by 2050.

But like the “57 varieties of Heinz” slogan, green recoveries come in various shapes and sizes.

A case of history repeating?

For seasoned observers, it feels like we’ve been here before, most notably in 2008-2010 when governments first saw the opportunities of renewable energy markets and provided bazooka-like fiscal stimuluses.

The Obama administration provided US$90 billion to promote clean energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This led to a fundamental global restructuring of how renewable energy was financed and developed.

Create the conditions and investment for a market to develop and the ‘invisible hand’ will work its magic, or so the theory goes.

Ten or so years on, it could be argued that this approach has worked as many renewable forms of energy, such as offshore wind and solar, have become developed industries and are moving to a model where they no longer need government support (i.e. “zero-subsidy”).

However, some have argued that the UK fluffed its lines over a decade ago by not being ambitious enough. Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, was quoted recently in Business Green: “The UK did not seize the opportunity to transform its economy for the better when it responded to the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.”

With hindsight, it’s easy to conclude that Government failed to deliver a long-term plan for low-carbon technologies to transform the economy.

Now Government has bought into the idea that low-carbon infrastructure and growing industries, such as hydrogen, electric vehicles and retrofitting our building stock, can create jobs and provide a long-term low-carbon economy.

Pressure is also building from a cross-party selection of MPs who, just this week, urged Government to accelerate the transition to net zero to “get the UK on track”.

The idea of a “green industrial revolution” has gained further urgency given the sharpest economic contraction of modern times, as well as rapid global climate change.

As Michael Liebreich of Bloomberg NEF highlighted, we need to remove carbon from our economy at a rate three to seven per cent faster per year than we have been doing in order to meet our Paris commitments.

The post-COVID-19 world has brought a new reality. Months of lockdown have provided obvious benefits. Fewer planes, trains and cars mean cleaner air in our cities. Biodiversity has flourished in many places across the world as humans have retreated. A consensus is emerging for these positive changes to continue.

Importantly, investment continues to pour into renewables and most analysts expect this to carry on, despite the COVID19 pandemic. While the energy sector has been hit hard by COVID-19, the renewables sector is showing remarkable signs of resilience.

How do companies and organisations shape the green recovery?

With Government and MPs making weekly statements about the green recovery, and with public acceptance of renewable energy higher than ever, companies in the energy and environment space will never have a better opportunity to push forward the green agenda.

Government is listening, ministers are keen to deliver, MPs are engaged, and the electorate wants to see the creation of new jobs and industries

The awarding of new funding is being accelerated and made available to companies with new innovations and technologies that progress the low-carbon transition, such as sucking CO² out of the air.

Communications are central to this.

Companies will need to show commitment to the green recovery, showing that they understand the Government’s agenda with a clear strategy and vision, impactful messaging and narrative, and a roadmap on how they are going to deliver, as well as a clear recommendation or ‘ask’ of Government.

One clear lesson is to be bold. Companies can draw on the recent precedent of lockdown lobbying from Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford. His free school meals campaign, as my colleague Evan Byrne noted in his excellent blog, was successful because it delivered a simple but uncompromising ‘ask’ to Government.

Know who the key stakeholders are. The shifting sands of the post-COVID-19 world mean that the stakeholders that a company or organisation might have communicated with in the past might not be the same ones who are shaping the green recovery. Take some time to map the stakeholder landscape and find out who the influential stakeholders really are.

And don’t forget to engage the public on this journey. They are also important stakeholders. They influence the influencers.

More broadly, the green recovery isn’t just a reaction to the post-COVID-19 world, it’s an opportunity to commit your business or organisation to creating a better world – a net-zero world. The promise of new jobs is an exciting one.

Those companies that have committed to net zero, with tangible goals and attainable milestones, have been well received by media. Outlandish net-zero commitments will likely be met with scepticism and negativity, just as “greenwashing” has been called out and rejected in the past. The public will want to see proof of progress as well as sincerity.

There is surely no better time to cement the goal of net zero in the public consciousness than now as people demand greater action to protect the environment, with many inspired by the actions of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg.

With COP26 taking place in Glasgow late next year, it is also an opportunity for companies and organisations to get a head start on their competitors, positioning themselves prominently in an increasingly crowded space. There’s a business imperative to being ahead of the game on net zero.

The signs are there that, this time, the green recovery will be a defining pillar of the UK and other countries’ post-industrial development. The scale of the economic and climate crisis dictates this.

But this will only happen if leading companies and organisations understand the new reality and seize the opportunities that it has provided them.

Madano advises clients in the energy and infrastructure sectors adapting to the impacts of COVID-19 and transitioning to lower carbon operating models. If you’re interested in learning more, please drop me a line directly at: [email protected]om. You can also follow Madano on Twitter.

Seizing the opportunity, how turbines will form part of our COVID-19 recovery

Seizing the opportunity, how turbines will form part of our COVID-19 recovery

In the UK, wind represents a success story on the path to Net-Zero and one of the greatest opportunities to reach this goal by 2050. Across Europe, wind energy now makes up 15% of the EU’s electricity. Recent months have seen a return for onshore wind being eligible to participate in CfD competitions. The growth of the floating wind market is now central to discussions as a viable alternative to conventional arrays.

However, the reach of COVID-19 will not escape the sector, with supply chains suffering lockdowns and impacts to manufacturing and plunges in forex rates beginning to hamper propositions in the coming months. Organisations will need to communicate their messages clearly, with authenticity and passion to be heard in this post-COVID recovery. Most companies supplying the UK with materials are from outside of the country and are mainly based in Europe and China. In 2019, €19bn was raised for the construction of new wind farms in Europe, 24% less than in 2018. Given the impact of COVID-19, we may have to revise our expectations in the coming years.

I believe though that the wind sector is in good shape despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s why.

High public acceptability

There is growing acceptability of offshore wind among key stakeholders. In recent Government polling, 81% of the population supported offshore wind and this sentiment has held steady over recent years. This attitude has largely been down to wind assets’ growing presence off our shores and public awareness growing alongside recognition of the importance of Net-Zero on the Government’s agenda.

Further projects are being approved and three major schemes are awaiting Development Consent Orders with the Planning Inspectorate due to confirm decisions by early June of the Thanet Extension, Hornsea 3 and Norfolk Vanguard sites.

However, some stakeholders retain an entrenched position, including US President Donald Trump who maintains the view of a “monstrous” wind project destroying the view of “perhaps the greatest golf course anywhere in the world” (which happens to be his Trump International Links Course). The ensuing legal challenge has resulted in Mr Trump being ordered to pay £250,000 to the Scottish Government.

With new emerging technologies and licencing rounds, developers will need to continue engaging with communities and stakeholders to inform and educate residents around proposals in order to mobilise support and consent for projects. Developers can’t take stakeholder sentiment at a local and national level for granted – authentic and compelling engagements at key stage gates for projects help to bring stakeholders on the journey.

A golden opportunity for the UK

With the Crown Estate launching the next round of the wind leasing competition, we will likely see around 7GW of capacity awarded in new seabed rights. If fully exploited, this would nearly double offshore power output in the UK. This represents more than twice the amount of energy that will be generated by the upcoming Hinkley Point C nuclear plant – enough to power over 6 million homes. Wind is now starting to play an increasing role in each of our daily lives.

With each new project, developers will need to create a clear narrative and benefit case to justify the disruption to the communities around their proposed sites. One impactful way to do this is through virtual reality and rich media content. These methods can create vibrant learning environments that consultation and stakeholder engagement meetings have struggled to achieve.

European wind capacity rose by a third (15.2GW) in 2019 across Europe with the UK leading the way in the installation of 2.4GW followed by Spain, Sweden and France. Importantly, the increasing pace of UK wind deployment will form part of the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda with potential supply chain benefits greatly boosting underperforming regions. Creating clusters of excellence around ports could result in long term economic benefits through development, operations and maintenance and then into decommissioning, which will enable a wide section of the energy sector to benefit from wind’s growth.

Innovating to further increase wind’s role in our energy system

Floating wind turbines offer a great opportunity for the UK given its leadership in offshore wind. The UK also needs floating wind given its tough Net-Zero climate targets. Floating wind installations offer greater cost competitiveness than conventional offshore wind arrays with less anchoring or pilling required to stabilise the turbines. Floating wind turbines increase the opportunities for onshore development with greater assembly onshore. These assets’ more mobile nature enables them to be moved further out to sea, where winds are steadier and stronger.

A single deep-sea floating turbine can produce up to 25MW of power per year, nearly seven times that of a traditional offshore turbine. Locating these arrays further out to sea also means that delicate ecosystems close to shore and communities concerned with noise can be better protected. However, there are still constraints around wind speed in highly volatile locations.

Roughly half of the world’s population lives within 125 miles of a coastline, placing demand close to offshore wind production locations. In the UK, the furthest we can be is 70 miles from the coast making short length cable runs for electricity transmission very attractive.

However, as Bruno Geschier, Chairman of the WFO Floating Wind Committee said on a recent Floating Wind webinar, work is still to be done to convince key stakeholders that floating wind is viable.

Geschier laid emphasis on Government Relations, policymaking and ensuring that developers set the right conditions to enable offshore wind to succeed. Engaging with government early, building clear areas of common understanding and then bringing stakeholders along on the journey of a project is key. Clear communications are central to enabling floating wind to achieve its goals.

Therefore, while COVID-19 will prove to be an obstacle to smooth sector growth, the overall prospects for wind in the UK remain positive. Week on week we are seeing developers seeking to mobilise supply chains and plough investment into coastal communities to support major arrays. It will be critical to ensure that the engagement, messaging and public face of these projects ensures support rather than creates voids where opposition can delay and disrupt projects.

Madano advises clients in the energy and infrastructure sectors adapting to the impacts of COVID-19 and transitioning to lower carbon operating models – if you’re interested in learning more please drop me or the team a line. You can also follow Madano on Twitter.

Email: [email protected]

Blog written by Andrew Turner, Senior Account Director, Madano (Energy and Environment).

Redefining social licence in a post COVID-19 landscape – placing climate action at the heart of our recovery

Redefining social licence in a post COVID-19 landscape – placing climate action at the heart of our recovery

We are bombarded with information and insight on the COVID-19 outbreak from rolling news updates to daily press conferences. As we look back at April, National Grid reported drops of 10% in power demand was a result of the lockdown. This prompted a warning for wind farms and interconnectors to be on standby to ease up supply and hydro-electric installations to potentially need to consume surplus energy.

We saw scare mongering that construction site closures would create a shortage of biomass for power stations. We also saw headlines showing that we were breaking new records for renewables penetration and not requiring coal to generate energy for homes. Perhaps this momentary hiatus of daily life has been one of the strongest demonstrations that our low carbon transition is working.

It’s clear that organisations will now focus on developing resilient operating models and will be less reliant on imported supply chains sources. This will require changes to operating processes and the way in which our energy system works. Stakeholders will need to be informed, educated and brought along on the journey of why, and how developments will operate in the future. Communications will need to resonate with relevant and impacted stakeholders but also bring positivity and realism following the sustained period of negativity. This will ensure support and understanding throughout the asset’s life and minimises the chances of opposition through misunderstanding.

In our lockdown routines, the UK is taking the opportunity to have a lie in and as a result are seeing a fifth less electricity being used at 07.30 each workday. But when we can return to work, we will see a raft of stimulus packages to boost recovery across the globe.

In previous recessions we have seen the stimulating role of oil and gas in a rapid economic recovery. Research from the LSE found that only 16% of stimulus plans in 2008 focused on low carbon technologies. However, a recent report from the University of Oxford found that investment in ‘green projects’ – ones that reduce emissions – are the most cost-effective way to boost economies hit by COVID-19.

This report noted that COVID-19 has given us the chance to seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to integrate long-term, climate-focused criteria into national recovery plans. To take this opportunity energy developments and investment programmes will need to hardwire a strong and compelling narrative into their communications to communities, stakeholders and influencers to ensure they are positioned as relevant, responsible and sustainable in our recovery as we enter a global economic recession. Communications will need to be impactful and fundamentally interesting.

This is echoed by the International Monetary Fund calling governments for a harmonised approach to fiscal pandemic recovery measures with the imperative to ‘combat’ climate change and ensure an environmentally sustainable recovery. A contributing factor to this is that energy technologies have also moved on. Many vital components for building a clean energy future are more mature and ready to scale up when compared to a decade ago.

As we emerge from the lockdown, industries will be clamouring for support from investors as well as state-aid from governments. Industries will try to reconnect with customers. Amongst this noisy landscape of propositions competing for attention, clear communications that are authentic will cut through this noise and connect with the stakeholders that matter.

However, currently, the gap between promises and implementation is huge in the Paris Accord commitments. Before the pandemic we saw early adopters in the energy sector commit to Net Zero carbon pledges but can COVID-19 be the paradigm shift that is needed to set us on a track to meet the Paris accord limits? The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has advised the UK Government for climate action to be placed at the heart of an economic rebuild following COVID-19.

The postponement of COP26 in the UK should be the wake-up call for governments to offer financial lifelines to carbon-intensive companies with strings attached. These strings should include strong commitments to reduce carbon emissions and to commit to low carbon recoveries. Organisations will need to make their corporate voices and narrative authentic and responsible to ensure they engage with the right stakeholders and can progress on their recovery post-COVID.

Madano advises clients in the energy and infrastructure sectors adapting to the impacts of COVID-19 and transitioning to lower carbon operating models – if you’re interested in learning more please drop me or the team a line. You can also follow Madano on Twitter.

Blog written by Andrew Turner, Senior Account Director, Madano (Energy & Environment).

How will COVID-19 change how we think about climate change?

How will COVID-19 change how we think about climate change?

Is the response to COVID-19 a precedent for Governments to take drastic actions to tackle climate change?

COVID-19 has seen unprecedented change to our lives. The UK has effectively shut down large sections of the economy, effectively nationalising the wages of large parts of the private sector and introduced personal restrictions on citizens’ ability to move freely and leave their homes. Most countries have adopted a similar approach.

Given the gravity of the situation, which has now been compared to a war economy, a question has emerged: ‘How will COVID-19 change us?’

Some public figures, especially those advocating greater levels of state intervention or control (especially of the economy), look to the creation of modern social democratic states, with their vastly expanded welfare systems, using the Second World War as a precedent.

Former Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who led his Party to its worst defeat since 1935 only four months ago, has now claimed that the Government’s response to coronavirus proves he was “absolutely right” about public spending at the 2019 general election, and that huge investment in the state is the best way to ‘fix social wrongs’.

Other commentators view this as a unique opportunity to permanently shift the degree to which the state is responsible for providing welfare to its citizens.

Whether they are correct or not has yet to be seen – there are those who disagree with that assessment. Some will be quick to point out that the UK Government’s approach aims to keep private enterprises afloat during the crisis and is not taking the opportunity to nationalise strategic industries. That is certainly not full blown Corbynism.

Whatever the fundamental changes society undergoes post-COVID-19, there can be no debate that a global precedent has been set. In response to a major health emergency, Government can do a lot in response and money appears to be no object. In the months ahead, there will be those who will begin to ask if that sort of response ought to be applied to other types of emergency.

Specifically, should Government respond to the ‘climate emergency’ in a similar fashion?

In order to tackle what many would argue is the greatest existential threat to humanity itself, and certainly our way of life, perhaps Government making similar interventions in our lives and the economy is necessary.

After COVID-19, It may be much easier to justify massive amounts of spending on tackling environmental issues, spending that could be for rolling out EVs, widespread home insulation or just direct investment into low carbon generation. The voting public may be happy for, or even expect, large sums of money to be spent in order to tackle this ‘emergency’.

Measures could go even further. Following the precedent set by the response to COVID-19, the public might demand that drastic measures can and should be implemented by governments to tackle climate change. There might be calls for the state to curtail certain economic activities, or limit access to certain types of transportation.

Given that the widespread economic shutdown in response to COVID-19 has led to a fall in emissions, there are those who would argue that a shutdown of this nature is a simple and effective measure for reducing emissions.

As governments have expanded the safety net for those who lose their employment due to an emergency or crisis, as we have seen in response to COVID-19, this sort of extreme measure could be easier to justify.

It will all depend on how the world changes post COVID-19. A shift to a more interventionist state is plausible, but equally possible is a strong public reaction towards the state’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis. The public may in time revolt against the economic disruption, which will likely lead to the loss of many jobs and the closure of many businesses, and curtailments of personal liberty.

In that scenario, it is equally plausible that any efforts for future governments to tackle climate change through the introduction of higher spending (and more taxation) or limiting certain economic or social activities, may be politically impossible. Climate change may viewed be too far away, or too abstract for the voting public to support any more restrictions on their lives.

It is interesting to note that the reason why Government has reacted so quickly to COVID-19 and not to climate change is that the threat is and was so immediate whereas the impacts of climate change have been slow to materialise. That may make it a hard sell to a public wary of increasing spending, or restrictions on their day to day lives.

So, in answer to the question ‘how will COVID-19 change us’ – when it comes to climate change, the answer is probably quite a lot.

Written by Evan Byrne, Madano, Energy and Environment.

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