Don’t argue the science of climate change, evaluate the risk, says senior statesman

Lord Deben

Former Environment Secretary John Gummer, now Lord Deben told an EIC/ACE breakfast briefing that industry should recognise the science of climate change is beyond dispute and that companies must focus on the risk.

Lord Deben, who is chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), spoke the day after the Government announced it had accepted the CCC’s advice on the level of the legal cap on UK carbon emissions in the 2020s (the Fourth Carbon Budget’).   

Addressing twenty senior directors from EIC and ACE member firms, Lord Deben set out the political context for business on climate change.  He pointed out that the UK has played a significant part in leading the approach to tackling climate change, with countries such as Denmark, Norway and Mexico following in its footsteps.   Setting a legal framework of targets and carbon budgets, as the UK Climate Change Act had done, however, was only the beginning. 

Find out where the political parties stand on the environment at EIC's annual conference Establishing a Green Agenda on 2 December. More details here.

Asked at the briefing whether behaviour change is more important than technological advances in dealing with the problem, Lord Deben said: “Behaviour change is needed - industry can create the most environmentally friendly infrastructure, but without behavioural change, emissions will not reduce.” He argued that technology could reduce the amount of behaviour change required to meet emissions targets, and that there was no reason why tackling climate change should reduce the comfort of society.

It is clear that climate change is happening and will affect all industry.   Lord Deben said: “It is a global challenge which requires a global response.  Industries, especially those in the engineering and technology sectors, are in a fantastic position to work together to tackle the risk.”  He emphasised energy storage in particular, saying “everything would change, if we develop a cheaper means of storing energy”.

Lord Deben ended by highlighting that climate risk provides “a unique moment in history; the engineering industry is changing from a business about domination of the physical environment to one that must learn to handle the world with delicacy.”