COP26: This is not a drill

Ben Kilbey, Head of Communications at Britishvolt and a Transport + Energy editorial board member, reflects on his time spent at COP26 and the infectious nature of everyone’s shared ambition to deliver Net Zero.

The much hyped and eagerly anticipated climate change meeting of minds, COP26, has been a real eye opener. Let’s face it, it had to be. Mother Nature is struggling, and the extreme weather patterns are really starting to effect humanity. We all need to stand up and play our part in finding solutions, and changing our ways.

Hosted this year in the Scottish city of Glasgow, what was patently clear from the event is that climate change is well and truly on the radar, and that we cannot any longer ignore the sad situation. We all need to stand up and be counted.

What we are facing isn’t an easy fix, it’s a collective healing. We’ve been spoon-fed fossil fuels, but now is the time to Stop Burning Stuff. We need to understand that just as we now strive for inclusion and diversity within our own species, we need that in all forms across the planet. We are all interlinked, and ultimately all dust on this mortal plane, and we need to use our natural electricity to create the true spark of change.

This won’t happen overnight, but we have our own lifetimes, no matter what age we are, to make a difference. Inaction is a weapon of mass destruction. We all need to stand up and count ourselves and others. Humanity is truly staring down the barrel of an extinction moment. I am happy to rebel. We are not dinosaurs, we are nimble, intelligent, thoughtful animals. We must harness our own positivity to create change that enables a clear glidepath to net zero and a sustainable future for all.

Batteries will be at the very core of that survival and successful energy transition. Sustainable, low carbon, responsibly manufactured battery cells, the ones Britishvolt will be producing at our first full-scale Gigaplant in Northumberland.

What was clear as day, to me and everyone else at COP26, is that the science proving the impacts and implications of climate change are precise and exact. We’re at a juncture that could easily be do or die for humanity, this isn’t a drill. The scientists have been warning and warning us, and now we have to make the right and responsible choices to have a proactive impact on our home, our planet.

It was delightful to see Glasgow schools taking the initiative to bring their students to the Glasgow Science Centre to engage in the immersive learning process to explore climate issues and the impact of humans on the planet.

It’s truly great to see how the next generation of “green pioneers” interact with the exhibits and to observe their excitement and engagement towards such an important topic.

Environmental, Social and Governance will likely be on the school curriculum by the time my three wonderful daughters are in secondary school. Already the changing environment and the impact of humans is a regular talking point for our eldest Eva, 8 and middle daughter Florence, 6.

In fact, Florence is the school ecowarrior. A badge she wears with pride. Her 6th birthday was koala-themed owing to the impact the terrible fires in Australia had on her. I would never have thought our six-year-old would have a climate change inspired party. When I was their age, we were discussing flying cars, now regular electric ones are just as exciting for them to chat about.

ESG is not just a tick in a box or another empty acronym; it is a personal passion, belief, and theology. In Britishvolt’s view, anything less is simply not ESG. Reducing environmental impact, cherishing colleagues, and the highest standards of governance should be embedded in the culture of all companies. People and passion inspire ESG, and the people at Britishvolt look like they have enough desire to truly empower people in the all-important race to zero. 

To finish on a remark made to me by Graeme Cooper, Head of Future Markets at National Grid:

Ben, “if I had to use one word to describe COP26 it would be ‘infectious’. The shared enthusiasm to drive greater commitments and take those into real action is quite simply ‘infectious’…”

The time is now, team. This is not a rehearsal. This is not a drill.

And please, don’t forget, as the wonderful Robert Llewellyn says: STOP BURNING STUFF!

You can see a full list of members who sit on Transport + Energy’s editorial board here.

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