By Sarah Butler-Sloss, Ashden Founder Director
There is no doubting the increasing urgency of cutting worldwide CO2 emissions, but at a time of global uncertainty and financial insecurity, adding to people’s anxiety by scaremongering about climate change is counter-productive. Offering positive solutions, coupled with the conviction that we can change for the better is far more likely to engage people and achieve the emissions reductions we need.
Policy has its part to play, but if we are to make the changes needed to safeguard the future of our planet in time we need action from the ground up. We must make a low-carbon lifestyle – and economy – the new normal.
Already many businesses in the UK and beyond are recognising this with plans to be more sustainable and even carbon neutral. They are doing this because it makes sound business sense to do so – as the CBI Director-General recently said, the ‘so-called “choice” between going green or going for growth is a false one.’
Green business accounts for around 8% of UK GDP and if the work of the businesses, public sector organisations and charities who account for much of this was scaled up they could contribute significantly more than that.
At Ashden we offer a vision of a more sustainable future by show-casing inspirational energy champions who are working to help us all live better but with less carbon. Ashden Award- winners are not only cutting CO2 emissions through energy efficiency measures, behavior change and renewable energy generation but also bringing huge social and economic benefits to individuals, businesses and communities across the UK and in the developing world.
They are creating jobs, reducing energy costs and improving people’s health and well being. In the UK large NHS hospitals and national bodies like the National Trust to innovative small businesses like liftshare and Student Switch Off are showing it makes economic sense to go green.
Staging the Olympic games in the middle of a double-dip economic recession was no small challenge, but thanks to a fantastic groundswell of support, many thousands of volunteers and, determined and inspiring athletes we did it spectacularly well. Now the challenge is to put that amazing energy, support and crucially, a belief that it can be done, into rebuilding our economy and making the UK one of the leaders in the low-carbon transition.
We all need to play our part from switching off to insulating our lofts to investing in low-carbon technologies. Ashden Award-winners offer a powerful example of the win-win-win living more sustainably offers us and future generations.
This blog was written as a contribution to the New Economics Foundation's One Hundred Months campaign, which aims to encourage collective responsibility for keeping temperatures under a 2C rise. Today, Monday 1 October, marks the halfway point in what the Guardian describes as 'the climate gamble.'