Tackling Climate Change – 2020 and beyond

Angus Flett, CEO

Climate change, and how we can achieve a zero carbon economy, remained high on the news agenda as we entered the new decade.

Most recently, the raging bushfires in Australia have sparked debate over whether the ferocity of the fires has been caused by climate change. The Guardian published an article written by climate scientist Joelle Gergis, summarising starkly that “rapid climate change has the potential to reconfigure life on the planet as we know it.”

Discussions are taking place aimed at helping reverse climate change; but whilst some progress is being made, much is being deferred or put on hold.  

In its letter to the Prime Minister just before Christmas, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) urged the Government “to seize the opportunity… to permit confident decisions on the climate challenges now before us”. The UK must get on track to deliver Net Zero emissions and adapt to the climate-related changes we are experiencing, the Committee stressed.

There is so much that we as an organisation can do to help influence this process. At the end of 2019, I met Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change. We discussed how the Data Communications Company could support Britain’s climate change commitments, and we agreed on the importance of our work to digitise the energy system and to identify innovative further applications for our secure network.

A great example of this is us exploring opportunities with ScotScape, who are developing a clean air transport concept centred on Smart Pillars (think: lamp posts on your street, carrying natural foliage, with integrated irrigation for the plants powered by solar). The company approached DCC to deliver the secure network needed to transmit data and deliver its product at scale. We’ll have Smart Pillars up and running at our Manchester lab very soon to demo the capability and together we aim to run field trials next year.

I continually meet opinion formers and influencers across Government and industry to debate how the DCC can make a positive difference and be a force for public good. I was pleased recently to catch up with Audrey Gallacher, Interim Chief Executive of Energy UK and other industry chief executives to explore how we can help influence consumers and the Government on climate change issues. We are committed to working together to meet these ends.

2020 will be a big year for the fight against climate change: many experts believe that it will usher in a golden era for environmental and energy policy making in the UK. It’s likely that the Government will produce a number of energy and environmental white papers in advance of the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow this November. The Chancellor’s Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review are also expected to reflect the significance of decarbonisation.

The Business and Transport departments will soon be publishing conclusions following their consultation on charging infrastructure for Electric Vehicles. The recent report by Kings College, which found that living within 50 meters of a busy road may increase lung cancer by 10%, shows just how important it is that we take the necessary steps to clean up the air we breathe; at DCC we remain ready and committed to support the Government in delivering this important area of policy and behaviour change. 

I hope that you, like me, can see ever stronger links between the work we’re doing at the DCC, and the imperatives facing our nation. We believe in making Britain more connected, so we can all lead smarter, greener lives. By continuing to work together, and delivering for our customers and the Government, we can do just that.