People Power Trumps Global Warming

People Power Trumps Global Warming

Global warming will only be halted if and when ordinary people change their lifestyle and behaviour.  So said Professor Jacqueline McGlade, chief scientist of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), at COP 22, and frankly, we’ve heard that sort of thing before.  The view is usually that this thing is so big it has to be led by governments. But now professor McGlade suggests that governments may no longer be the lead player and that ordinary people are already beginning to make the changes in their behaviour and lifestyle to the point where Donald Trump couldn’t reverse the process even if he really wanted to (and right now none of us knows what Donald Trump really wants to do..). In this short video Prof. McGlade identifies the task before us; and as we know, it’s a big ask.  But as well as pointing out its challenges, she argues that people are beginning to move in this direction anyway, and whatever government says, it is the people who will have to make the change.  In her answer to the final question, she suggests that President Trump may not be able to reverse the trend because it has started to make economic as well as moral sense.

In a studiedly realistic but mildly optimistic discussion, Ms McGlade identifies the elimination of coal as a fossil fuel as the first step, but she also identifies where other savings in CO2 can be made – 2Gt from Transport, 5Gt from building methods and 4Gt from industry.  If, as she suggests, the encouragement to make the changes comes from business logic, it will happen quickly.   But she reminds us that the chances of 1.5 degrees of global warming are at best 50% even if all those things happen.

Still, it’s nice to think the future of the human race is not going to be entirely at the whim of the President-elect of the United States…