George Monbiot, everyone's favourite controversial climate commentator, launched the Be The Change conference with a bang here in London yesterday. He leaped off the starting blocks with the statement that not only is it imperative that we reduce Co2 emissions by 100%, but that it's perfectly possible to do so. This makes the UK government's promise of a 60% reduction by 2050 look frankly wimpy. How can we reach this lofty target you ask? Monbiot's argument rests on two clear points: diversification of renewable energy sources and the use of current transmission services. He is confident that we have the technology that would allow countries like the UK to make use of Iceland's geothermal or Africa's solar energies through direct current cables.Monbiot has come to his conclusions through studying three reports: The German government's study of Global Transformative Energy, Mark Barret's study of new energy storage techniques and Zero Carbon Britain's report on 'comprehensive decarbonisation'. He explained that direct current cables are cheaper, more efficient and less visually intrusive than the outdated electicity pylons we are all used to seeing dotted across our landscapes.
Monbiot also tackled the challenge of making our vehicle fleet entirely electric. Suggesting that instead of owning our own chargeable batteries a product service system could be set in place where we could lease batteries. Instead of stopping to fill up with petrol we would stop to pick up a newly charged battery and continue happily on our way, allowing us to travel great distances by electric car. We love how George's rhetoric always makes us feel as though everything is possible and the answers are sitting there right in front of us - it's all so obvious!
Other fascinating presentations were given yesterday by Stewart Wallis of the New Economics Foundation, C.S. Kiang about Sustainability in China, and Rob Hopkins from Transition Towns UK. Look out for Bonnie Alter's report on Jacon von Uexkull and Bianca Jagger's talk on the World Future Council.
Now it's time for me to get back to the second day of the conference where we'll be hearing from Richard Reed of Innocent Drinks, Jonathon Porritt of Forum For the Future and watching a film about the Dalai Lama.