COP26: Less talk, more action

By Denis Collins, ActionZero CEO

All eyes turn to Glasgow as COP26 draws to a close.

Seeing the banks of the Clyde, once an industrial powerhouse, playing host to one of the most important summits in UK history has been remarkable.

This river and area, famous for its contribution to boating and ship building, is a metaphor for “what might be possible” – building a positive future for climate action.

The hype around the 26th UN Climate Conference has been palpable as world and industry leaders sit around the table at an event that has been described as our last, best chance to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

It was at COP21 in Paris in 2015 that the importance of striving towards a net-zero future first came to the world’s attention, and forced tangible pledges from investors, policymakers, and regulators – most crucially the pledge to keep temperature increases below 1.5°C with the signing of The Paris Agreement.

Six years later, the world is at a tipping point. While there’s no denying the importance of the high profile discussions at COP26, the urgency of the moment demands more than words. Simply put, now.

The impact of a temperature increase of more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels would be cataclysmic. Some nations, particularly island states, are at risk of being swamped by rising seas, while any rise over 1.5°C is projected to lead to catastrophic declines in yields of maize, rice, and wheat, all of which are essential not only for feeding livestock, but for feeding vast swathes of the world’s population.

Closer to home, if we continue at our current rate, large parts of the West of Scotland could be underwater by 2050. In this scenario, Glasgow International Airport, which has welcomed so many of the world’s leading thinkers on climate change over the last few weeks, is projected to be completely submerged. And given we lie just across the Irish Sea, Ireland won’t be immune from these extremely volatile weather patterns.

When you consider the human impact of climate change, life as we know it cannot and should not be the same after COP26. In the words of Greta Thunberg, it can’t be all ‘blah, blah, blah’. We need action.

The road to zero might have started in 2015, but further progress must be made if we are to facilitate real and meaningful change. And we’re running out of time.

So what does that progress look like?

We must quickly execute relevant working models between the private and public sectors if we are to harness the power of net-zero energy systems. Government with policy, infrastructure and investment. Industry with financial solutions, technology and analytics to execute results.

The private sector may well be able to carry the weight of investment into renewables and new technologies, but strategic investment in network infrastructure is also required.

And what better place to facilitate change than Ireland?

The decarbonisation of heat is a significant driver to reduce carbon emissions – across industry and consumer sectors.

It’s important to accelerate investment, technology and solutions that remove fossil fuels, while still enabling consistency in needs.

We must follow the example of those in the Irish technology sector, an industry with notable success in attracting inward investment from some of the world’s biggest tech brands, and create a green energy cluster in the Munster region.

The solution to the carbon crisis can be found on our shores if we pull together our knowledge, resources, and, most importantly, our ideas. At ActionZero, we’re creating and delivering solutions for a zero-emissions world. How? By leading a movement to design and deploy groundbreaking, self-funding, green energy solutions across industrial, enterprise, and consumer global markets.

Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, recently called on “all nations to enhance their climate action plans without delay until we are collectively on the right track.”   ActionZero is doing this now.

Only by partnering with like-minded businesses, striving towards the same goal, and creating a much-needed green energy cluster, can Ireland secure its place as a world leader in the fight against the climate crisis.

It’s time for less talk, and more action – it’s in our name, after all.

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