"It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land” reports IPCC.
"It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land." This is the conclusion of the 6th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.
The report was prepared by 234 authors from 65 countries over three years, collating current knowledge on climate change through the review of over 14,000 studies. Before publishing this report, it faced intense scrutiny, making this the starkest warning we've had on climate change. The world is already suffering from the effects of global warming in the form of wildfires, floods, hurricanes and extreme weather. We are already paying the price of decades of slow action and it is clear from the report that our window of opportunity is closing.
The average surface temperature of the Earth has already risen by up to 1.3 degrees, will cross 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next 20 years, and 2°C by the middle of the century without sharp reduction of emissions, the report warned.
The urgency is clear. It isn’t good enough to transition. It isn’t good enough to just reduce and work within existing economic rules. We must fundamentally reassess the way we invest in, value and transform our homes and lives.
In the three years since I set up Vattenfall’s heat business in the UK we have seen property owners and developers flip completely from asking for "cost effective" low carbon solutions that often included gas-based generation, to all of our customers asking for zero carbon. There is no shortage of ambition.
Encouragingly the noises from government are positive – both in London and in Scotland. Policy wheels move slowly but there are teams of hard working and well-intentioned people in the Scottish and UK Government pushing hard to accelerate the opportunity for companies like Vattenfall to invest in the required infrastructure, and to deliver the service required. From simple policy levers like reducing the costs to roll out zero carbon solutions (we still pay taxes and face levies which fossil fuel suppliers do not), through to bigger ticket items like how to finance the switch to more sustainable living, which will run to hundreds of billions of pounds and cannot just be levied on consumer energy bills.
I hope that IPCC report acts as a galvanising force, bringing the urgency and bold ambition needed to help these hard working civil servants cut straight through to bigger and better answers.
The urgency has never been clearer. In all of the 'five future' scenarios outlined by the IPCC, the world will still see at least a few decades' more of global warming. Acting now to put the right technology in to the right place to deliver climate-smarter solutions can help avert the worst impacts that climate change can bring. We not only have the opportunity, but it is even clearer now how much we have to shoulder the responsibility to make fossil-free living in one generation a possibility.
Vattenfall is committed to this journey, and for our Heat business in the UK it simply reinforces for us that we must continue to be the champions of high quality, well planned, well developed, sustainable and low carbon district heating. We look forward to making our voice heard in the build up to COP26 in Glasgow and as the urgency mounts.