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Previous: Panel two - Q&A - part 1
Moderator: Yeah, that's fine. We're missing one speaker, but before Modi gets here, I did actually just wanted to ask you one question on behalf of the facilitation team. We wanted clarification from the earlier panel. So if I could just give you the microphone, so something we thought that you did say earlier, but that perhaps didn't come out as clearly as it could have done. Is the answer to the following question. What do you think should be the balance between business and government action on climate change? If I - Modi, I don't know if you've heard that - excellent. So if I could just take very pithy, like just a couple of sentences from each of you on that, that would be much appreciated.
Fernanda Balata: Okay, that wasn't my brief. My brief is to talk about a state-led approach, but no, of course, I'm very happy to answer that. So I do think that everyone in society has a role to play. So government, you know, individual civil society and private interests, like companies and etcetera. But the reason why I was emphasising the role of government. It's because one, the planetary crisis and the amount of things that need to change and the speed in which they need to change are not gonna happen if private interests, if we depend just on private interests, because really, you know the investment that's needed, it's to create a range of benefits for society that, as we are, organized a society, these days, only government really has that mandate to care about people's quality of life, jobs -natural, the natural world.
Moderator: That's so about that. Okay, that's fine. Paul.
Paul Ekins: So when you heard from Chris that you don't have to agree with each other, and I have a slightly different view to Fernanda here. This transition isn't gonna happen unless business takes it forward. Businesses can take it forward by itself. Business needs a market to work in. Markets are amazingly powerful. Just think of your mobile phone and where mobile phones were 20 years ago, i.e. nowhere. They're amazingly powerful, but businesses need certain conditions in order to do what they need to do. But above all, they have to be able to be profitable. They have to make money out of this stuff, and it's the government's job to create a level playing field where all the costs get into the market, including the environmental costs that at the moment aren't there, so that the businesses can invest.#
And it's so important that businesses can invest because although governments have an important investment role, there is no way that governments can invest enough money to get the transition going as fast as it needs to go. We have to mobilise pension funds, the institutional sources, the insurance companies and indeed, the corporate balance sheets, and all the evidence we have so far on how low carbon technologies get mobilised suggests that businesses have an absolutely fundamental role to play. So do markets and governments have the job of making those markets able to work.
Moderator: That's perfect. Thank you very much. Modi.
Modi Mwatsama: Thank you. So I think the role of governments is to set, create the regulatory framework and standards within which businesses can develop solutions to tackle this problem and thrive. And also I like and Paul was saying as part of that process create a level playing field so that, businesses can be encouraged to do business in a way that promotes good practices and not, at the same time harm environment. I can't think of a specific example right now, but say you're able to grow bigger tomatoes if you use lots of fertiliser and fertiliser harms the environment. If the government limits the use of fertilizer and it's mandatory then all businesses will be using fertiliser responsibly, whereas if they don't regulate in that area, then you might end up with a tomato grower having an unfair advantage by using a practice that damages the environment to make more money. Whilst a more responsible producer who's doing the right thing might then be at a disadvantage because it might cost them more money to produce a good responsibly. So I think that's where government often can come in play to create that level playing field for people to do the right thing.
Moderator: Thank you. Thank you for that clarification. And I don't want to take up any more time because I want to get to everyone else's questions. The room asked for a brief reintroduction of you. So we have Modi Mwatsama, who's from the Wellcome Trust. Fernanda Balata from the New Economics Foundation and Paul Ekins from University College London. But just to stress again, this is their personal opinion, not their organisational ones. I think I'm correct in saying that. So I don't know how you did this in the other room I'm gonna take three-ish questions for you at a time. I would ask you to answer them as pithily as we possibly can. Now, please a question for Modi, please.
Table Facilitator: How can people in poorer communities eat healthier alternatives when is way more costly for them?
Moderator: Thank you very much. A question for Modi.
Table Facilitator: How can packaging give more information with regards to carbon footprint journeys and the manufacturing?
Moderator: Thank you very much. Question for Modi.
Moderator: What will be the health impacts and effects of meat grown in laboratories?
Moderator: Modi over to you, pithy.
Modi Mwatsama: Thank you for your questions and really good question about people in poorer communities. It is hard to eat healthily when you're no low income. And I think that's where us as a society need to think about what we value. Ways -and I think the solution to that problem would actually be helping people to have more money in the pocket, to buy healthier food and the ways you can do that are things like raising the standard of the minimum wage so that people, anyone who's working, is able to at least afford a healthy eating diet based on how much they're being paid. And that's something we could all vote for. Another example could be, as a society thinking about, you know, also raising perhaps the level at which people are able to earn tax-free income before they then start paying taxes so that those on the lowest incomes are able to keep more of their money so that they could be able to pay more for healthy food.#
So it's really about, you know, tackling the root causes of poverty is the way to solving the problem of people not being able to access healthy food. Um, the question on packaging around environment labels and giving people the opportunity to find out what's in their food. I think environment labels are really important. As I mentioned before. Researchers are currently collecting data on the environmental impacts of different types of foods and production methods. The next step is for the government to step in and recommend that all food companies and manufacturers actually include this information on food. And there is research happening to look at the best ways of displaying that information. Denmark, for instance, has already committed to introducing mandatory labels on food that tell people about the environmental impacts. And so we could perhaps learn from what they're doing there. And, on terms of the production methods, we already how certain accreditation schemes, a variety of different accreditation schemes that we'll talk about - that will certify production methods is being organic. You can buy organic food, or organic chicken or high animal welfare or free-range. Perhaps encouraging more use of those kinds of schemes to tell people how different particular foods were produced and have them certified so they can have confidence in the claims that are being made. So perhaps a bit of regulation around the sorts of claims that are being made so people can have confidence in the claims on food packages would be another way.#
And then the final question was health impacts of meat grown in labs. That's a good question. I think this is a kind of new and emerging field where we still don't yet know and what the true health or environmental impacts of those new and emerging technological products are. So it's a kind of watch this space to see what they might, you know what might happen with them.
Moderator: Thank you. A question for Modi please.
Table Facilitator: Now that we're leaving the EU, is this an opportunity to change farming subsidies away from meat production? And who is advising the government on this?
Modi Mwatsama: Great question. Thank you.
Moderator: We can take three more questions, thank you.
Table Facilitator: What is more carbon friendly? British beef or avocados?
Moderator: Fine, this table.
Table Facilitator: Is it possible to have a sufficiently nutritious vegan diet without relying on imported foods or high levels of imported foods?
Moderator: Okay, and the last table.
Table Facilitator: What percentage of pollution is still caused by public transport and will pollution and health in London actually be drastically affected with the tube slash bus is still being so polluting.
Moderator: Modi, pithy if you can, please.
Modi Mwatsama: Thank you. Will Brexit - Is Brexit an opportunity to change agriculture subsidies? Yes, certainly is. And so yes, watch this space. There are several civil society organisations who are advocating for changes in this space from environmental groups like WWF to free charities like Sustain and Eating Better. So a lot of organisations are on the case as well as researchers who were producing evidence on where the subsidy should go, what the most effective production methods might be to help both protect the environment and also protect farmers' incomes as well, which is also really important.#
So a lot of research is happening and action is happening in that area, which is great. In terms of the second question around British beef over avocados, which is being better for the environment. Good question. It depends on so many factors. Where the avocados they're grown? Are they grown in season or out of season, for instance, being heated? Also the beef itself. What kind of methods are being used to produce it? Is it free range? Is it relying on a lot of soil that might be grown in a land that was previously rainforests in the Amazon that were then cleared? So there are many different factors that affect the environmental quality and emissions associated with different products? And, I think we need to have a bit more transparency and people being need to be able to have that kind of information to be able to side what the better on best forms or foods, they might be choosing are.#
Then there was that question around healthy diet. Oh, sorry. My handwriting is terrible. Is it possible to allow us to eat a healthy diet primarily relying on British foods. Vegan? Was it vegan?
Moderator: Can you repeat the question. What was the question?
Table Facilitator: Is it possible to have a sufficiently nutritious vegan diet without relying on high levels of imported foods?
Modi Mwatsama: Oh, that is a very interesting question. And my short answer is, I don't know. Yeah, I'd have to think about that. And we don't have time.
Moderator: We'll try and get a clarification and let you know overnight or between weekends.
Modi Mwatsama: Okay. And then the final question was, what was the proportion of pollution caused by public transport in London? That's really...
Moderator: That wasn't quite the question, let me just take that again.
Table Facilitator: What percentage of pollution is still caused by public transport and will pollution slash health in London actually be drastically affected with the tubes and buses is still being so polluting?
Modi Mwatsama: That's a good question. The first answer. The first question. In short, I'm not sure about the percentage of pollution caused by public transport. Will London still be polluted by buses and tubes running? Potentially. Because it depends on what kind of fuel there running on. If bus is fuelled by diesel, then that's going to be still causing pollution. It's going to be better for the environment than individuals driving their cars and then having more cars. But it's nevertheless not going to be so great. And so the public transport system also needs to be transitioned onto cleaner forms of fuel. You know, it might be electricity generated by renewable force - sources, for example.
Moderator: Thank you very much. Questions for Fernanda over here, please.
Table Facilitator: if we try to tackle climate change and economic redistribution at the same time, are we making it unsolvable?
Moderator: Thank you very much. Over here.
Paul Ekins: What sort of new jobs can the green economy provide? And on what scale?
Moderator: Just give you time to finish writing.
Table Facilitator: So you mentioned things going wrong in coal mining towns in the 80s. So our table wanted to ask what went wrong there? Why didn't it work? And how could it work?
Moderator: Better start with those three, please. Really pithy.
Fernanda Balata: Okay. So climate change and economic redistribution being solved together, If that's possible. I think it is. Well, I think reaching the target of decarbonising the economy, I think in fact, its economic redistribution might be a better way of actually getting there. Um, because you are looking at reconfiguring a system that has created the problem in the first place. Right now, the economy, the way that it operates is heavily dependent on fossil fuels. And so to think, for example, if we need to do deforestation a lot of the lend in this country is in private hands. Private ownership. So that's more about assets distribution, ownership of different public goods, which, in a way, it is a form of redistributing wealth and, economic benefits. So how can we advance an agenda for example, different types of land use if there is no private interest in doing so? So you can see that a solution around, if we were to actually do land reform, then it would open up opportunities to actually deliver different types of land use in a more democratic process, of deciding what we actually want to do. Sorry, I just used that as an example. That might not be the best example, but I'm running out of time.#
What sort of new jobs could the transition create and at what scale? So the way we talk about the transition is that you're not only trying to decarbonise the economy, but you're trying to also deliver kind of an industrious strategy. Right? Which I argued has be needed for a long time anyway. There are lots of places that you know you don't have good quality employment, opportunities. Um, and so there is a need already there for jobs. Um, I think the sort of jobs. there is the obvious ones of, like new, you know, in the renewable energy or new types of farming and agriculture, etcetera. But there's also the jobs in - that might not be directly related to climate. So, for example, what we call the supporting, it's not what it's called the supporting economy. So jobs in the care sector, education, science, there are many jobs. There are many skills and many and new, more productive. I guess types of employment for the economy that are needed, not only to deliver the transition but also once we create a zero-carbon economy, the types of innovation and other things that we might want to invest in.#
What went wrong in back in the 80s with coal mining. In what ways and how to get it right. So I think there are lots of things that went wrong. It was at the same time that, you know, government did see itself as playing a role in actually shaping the economy and industry and taking a step back. And so when the jobs went, there was nothing to replace them, and there was no proactive planning to support those communities in going for that transition. So that's one thing. And that's why I actually I believe that government needs to step in this time and, you know, and have a plan. The other thing is that, workers' voice. So you know, unions were heavily undermined during at that time. And unions, you know, you might think about institutions in many different ways, but the idea of it is that you have a collective voice of workers and therefore collective power. And if you don't have that, then they can't really be part of that solution, which I argue now is what we need to do different. So a just transition now means that we have to bring workers, especially the ones that will be directly impacted by the changes of industrial changes into that discussion, you know, and be a part of how, you know. these communities can invest in new sectors and new types of activities. What kind of skills will they need, you know, to get the new jobs? So, yeah, that's how I think we can get it right. And to be honest, I think there are no shortcuts. Um, it is about a lot of dialogue and building trust in this country, because that's what we lost back in the 80s.
Moderator: Okay, so I am worried about time. So what I'm going to do, we're going to take four questions for Paul from this side of the room, and then I'm gonna give you a choice about what we do after that. Okay. So, question for Paul, please.
Table Facilitator: So you mentioned that the technology is already there. So how do you make it affordable to the public for example, electric cars?
Moderator: Another question for Paul, please.
Table Facilitator: We get methods to generate electricity. But is there any information about how we store electricity and what, if any other impacts on the environment on things like lithium mining, which is also damaging? I suppose.
Moderator: Thank you very much. Question from over here, for Paul.
Paul Ekins: If we're moving away from gas boilers in homes, what are the alternatives?
Moderator: Thank you very much. And over here.
Table Facilitator: Is it feasible to train upscale fossil fuel workers on alternative tech and production methods to avoid mass redundancy? Or do we need to look elsewhere? And if we do need look elsewhere, do we have the right people with the right skills in the UK?
Moderator: As pithy as you can possibly do it.
Paul Ekins: Okay, thanks. As pithy as I can. Okay. The tax is already there, how do we make it more affordable, electric cars for example? Well, the good news is that the cost of electric cars is already coming down pretty dramatically. So if 10 years ago, you'd predicted a leaf, for example, I would have thought you were being very, very positive and optimistic. And yet there it is. It's out there. The way Norway's doing it is to give significant subsidies to people to buy electric cars so that 50% of sales of cars in Norway are now electric. Obviously, as the cost of electric cars comes down, those subsidies can be reduced. And that's a pretty classic way in which we've made these technologies more affordable. That's precisely what happened with offshore wind. The government got into contracts at offshore wind in 2005 for £150 a megawatt-hour, and the last auction for offshore wind contracts, last year was £37.50. So those processes of cost reduction when you deploy them, we wouldn't have got those cost reductions if we hadn't bought some offshore wind at £150 of megawatt-hour because it was the process of learning how to do it and putting them in the sea of building those things that enabled us to reduce those costs, And, of course, that's private companies that were doing that. That's Seaman's, That's Dawns, that's various other companies that we're learning how to do that, and that's what we need to do across these technologies, including batteries. And again, the cost curve of batteries has come down dramatically. SO that there are now utility-scale batteries that store electricity from renewables on the grid so that we can use it when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing.#
You're quite right that not all the elements that go into batteries are particularly environmentally friendly. And you mentioned lithium. There's a lot of research into alternative materials. There's a huge amount of money going into batteries because a lot of entrepreneurs realised that the next generation of energy billionaires is going to come from the people who cracked storage. And I believe that that is definitely going to happen over the next 5 to 10 years. Lithium batteries have become much cheaper and they become much more powerful so that you can now buy an electric car that can go 250 miles, whereas again 10 years ago, you'd have been lucky to get 50 out of it. And obviously that's an important consideration for people who rely on their cars to go relatively long distances. So that's number two.#
Training fossil fuel workers, it will depend what they do. I mean, one of the great pieces of luck, if you like for the UK is that we had this offshore wind resource. But just before that, we had our offshore oil and gas industry. So we had a lot of guys who knew what to do out in rather inhospitable environments out in the North Sea, and they were able to deploy those skills and many of the shipyards that we're building the offshore oil and gas rigs were able to be redeployed to some extent to build offshore wind turbines, and any of you who visited the east coast of the UK around Howland, Teesside, and Humber in those places we'll see the kinds of investments that have come in there and that have enabled companies to generate this huge increase in offshore wind that we've experienced in this country over the last 5 to 10 years.#
Then we come to the most difficult one on moving away from gas boilers. This is the area which, in my view, is why we need at least 30 years for this transition. Those of you who own a gas boiler will know that you can probably get the 15 years life out of it. So If you've just bought a gas boiler, you're not wanting to scrap it any time soon you'll be wanting to wait 15 years. If your gas boiler has just gone kaput, you'll be wanting to buy something reasonably soon. And that's tricky at the moment because there isn't very much as an alternative. You could buy a heat pump. And gradually are gas and other fitters, electricians are beginning to learn how to install these things so that they work properly. There's a new generation of hybrid gas and electricity heat pumps coming on the market, which will play an enormously important transitional role in moving towards a completely zero-carbon solution. When we're building new housing estates were going quite a lot of them. Then we have to make them able to have district heating, which is both mohr efficient and we can then use zero-carbon biomass. That's how a lot of very low carbon electricity and heat is generated in Norwegian countries, but in Nordic countries. But they've been doing that for 30 or 40 years. It takes time because it's a high infrastructure solution.#
But that's why getting rid of 25 million gas boilers, which is roughly what the task is over 30 years is going to require a mixture of all those options. What I haven't mentioned are hydrogen boilers. Those of you who are as old as me will remember that we used to heat our homes through town gas and town gas is half hydrogen and a lot of our gas distribution network would take hydrogen. And we could, therefore, repurpose some of our gas distribution network for hydrogen. And it would be perfectly possible to build hydrogen boilers just as we used to have town gas boilers. But all this stuff takes time. And then we have to answer the question that Chris Stark asked right at the beginning of where does the hydrogen come from? And at the moment you know, hydrogen is quite expensive, so we would need to get some technological breakthroughs with electrolysis, get some carbon capture and storage going. All this stuff is doable, and if we start to do it, we can expect that the cost will come down. But it's a big task. It's a system change and we need to get going now.
Moderator: Great. Thank you very much. So I'm aware that we haven't done all tables questions for all speakers, but we're kind of out of time. And that's not your guys' fault, because these guys arrived late in this room. So what I'm going to suggest you do instead of making you stay later and having a shorter gap between now and dinner and all of that kind of thing. I'm going to take the questions that you didn't get to ask your speakers off you. I'm going to get them to answer them before they go. And we'll read out their answers to them, either tonight or tomorrow morning. I'll get them to you in some ways that you will still get those questions answered. We just won't do it right now sitting here in the room. Does that work for everybody? Okay, great. So could we thank our panelist speakers Could table facilitators, could you just come and give them your table's priority questions, please? The ones they're missing so they can start working on some answers. If that's all right straight away, I'll give you some paper.
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