Humanity stands at a crossroads. The choices it faces are complex and its final destinations are hard to discern. But there is very little doubt that the route it has taken thus far is unsustainable. It urgently needs to change course.
Last year, global temperatures were higher than humans have ever recorded. The burning of fossil fuels continues to increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere and so threatens to put in motion a series of social and climate events that we will be powerless to stop.
If we are to limit warming to no more than two degrees before pre-industrial levels and avoid costly ‘negative emissions’ technologies that will effectively suck carbon dioxide out of the air, then all combustion of coal, oil and gas must cease in as little as 24 years. Perhaps much sooner. This represents a collective challenge greater than humans have ever faced.
Whilst climate change is often reported in the mainstream media, the scale of this challenge is not presented. Climate change is often cast as a technological or technocratic problem. We need to invent better batteries or agree carbon tax and trading. But what is actually required is the radical transformation of how we power our civilisation.
Why is this important? Because only a relatively small number of people outside of the climate change research community have any understanding of the magnitude of what needs to be done to safeguard our children’s and grandchildren’s future.
Getting people engaged in climate change and how they can become of the solution is notoriously difficult as for many, climate change is something depressing. Getting a television or film production company to commission a feature about climate change is - unless it is fronted by an A lister such as Leonardo Dicaprio - virtually impossible. No one wants to be lectured to and be made to feel guilty about how they are wrecking the planet just by living their lives.
Film maker Paul Maple and I are going to challenge some of these assumptions by making a documentary not just about climate change, but how we can effectively respond to it. I’m an academic that researches and teaches climate change and sustainability science. Notwithstanding the scale of the challenge, I’m here to tell you that there is nothing impossible about what needs to be done. We don’t need to conjure up science fiction abilities to control the Earth’s climate. All the technologies we need exist right now. It’s certainly not going to be easy. But if it was, we would have done it by now.
Our film “The Race In On” will show how the UK can become a low carbon society by 2040 and so help lead the world into a sustainable future. We will lay out a plan for action that will genuinely surprise you. Everyone involved in the film is giving their time freely and without charge, but to connect to more people and have a deeper impact we are seeking your support via an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. We already have interview agreements with some of the world’s leading climate scientists, economists and sustainability pioneers.
We can create a film that will present a vision of what a sustainable UK would look like. And how you could help build it. You may have heard that Costa Rica is a nation that is now almost entirely powered by renewable energy and leads the world in showing how to transition to a post-carbon society. It is rightly held up as a model for other nations. There are many fundamental differences between Costa Rica and the UK. But imagine the impact that the UK could have on the global stage by demonstrating an effective route to a fossil free future. Imagine being part of that transformation.
I have been told more times I care to remember that such visions are nothing more than pipe dreams. Perhaps you have been too. But with so much as stake, we must turn these dreams into reality. One film isn’t going to do that. But the conversations it produces, the ideas it sparks, the dreams it may kindle, can only help bring it closer.
Please support us if you can, and become part of our movement by contributing here: www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-race-is-on-to-build-a-sustainable-uk-by-2040-energy-environment# or perhaps telling your friends in person of via social media.