Long live the planet

Published:  24 February, 2016

Matt Lowe reflects on the United Nations Paris conference on climate change

 

It is nearly a month since, with great fanfare and celebration, President Hollande of France announced that the agreement reached in Paris and signed by 195 countries was “A major leap for mankind”.

Having had January to gather my thoughts it certainly seems that, for the first time, the world has corporately recognised the seriousness of climate change. This is indeed something to celebrate.

In 2012 the coalition government established the Green Investment Bank, the first of its kind in the world. To date it has invested £2.3 billion in 62 green infrastructure projects.  This is encouraging, but more could and should be done to encourage manufacturers to develop innovative energy saving products. If in my lifetime (I am nearing my 43rd birthday and am father to three young children) I live to see the death of fossil fuels, significant product innovation will need to be realised across the HVAC industry.  I am not without hope.

A study by The European Commission reported that buildings account for 40% of the EU’s energy consumption. If we are to achieve the ‘nearly zero energy buildings’ targets for new build by 2020, and refurbished buildings by 2030 we need to recognize that our industry has a challenge on its hands. 

We must continue to invest in the skills and talent of our workforce so that our engineers (mechanical, electrical and building services), electricians, plumbers, carpenters, bricklayers and other on-site construction workers have the right skills to help transform the building sector. We also need to work with education providers to improve the quality of education our employees are being given.

We need to attract and retain some of the world’s best brains so that innovation in our industry becomes a very natural part of what we do. Where we don’t think of ‘renewable’ products as something ‘not for me’, but as products we actively seek to manufacture and install. As a manufacturer, Giacomini needs to ensure that our products integrate simply with other manufacturer’s products. We need to make it easy for installers to adopt new technologies. 

On a slightly different tack, I must also understand the challenge of COP21 to me personally.  This is always the painful bit!  I cannot shift the responsibility of reducing carbon emissions entirely to Government and Business. From the house I live in, the car that I drive (I don’t want to drive a Prius, I want to drive an affordable Tesla!), the clothes I wear to the food that I eat and waste. I can play my part. Maybe my biggest challenge is to learn to take responsibility for what I can change.

With great, I suspect, French exuberance the UN COP21 website (http://www.cop21.gouv.fr/en/) boldly displays “Long live the planet. Long live Humanity. Long live life itself.” May it be so. And may we all play our part in making it so.

Matt Lowe is managing director of Giacomini

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