Detlef Neuhaus & Pol Spronck

Why COP26 Can Herald a New Era

Delegates will gather soon in Glasgow to discuss the future of our planet. Pol Spronck, UK Managing Director, Solarwatt, tells why COP26 can herald a new era.

We’re days away from 31 October and the start of COP26, an event whose outcomes will determine the success or failure of what must now be our most urgent objective – securing a net zero future.

Replacing fossil fuels with renewable sources and reducing CO2 emissions from buildings are two essential weapons in the fight against climate change. It was never going to be easy – the modern world was built on carbon-based fuels – but we need to act fast.

As world leaders prepare to gather in Glasgow for the UN Climate Change Conference, some are wavering over their commitment to limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial temperature levels. The number and severity of extreme weather events in recent years underline the folly of any reluctance to commit to mutual action.

Meanwhile, UK householders in their thousands are investing in solar PV electricity generation – to cut emissions, lessen reliance on fossil fuel-sourced energy from the grid and reduce utility bills, while gaining greater control over their energy use.

Change is driven by policy as well as demand. The UK Government’s Net Zero Strategy, unveiled on 19 October, commits to “ambitious action to reduce public sector emissions, showing leadership to the wider economy, and making a direct contribution to reaching net zero”.

The policy underlines the need to reduce direct emissions from public buildings by investing in low-carbon electricity systems such as rooftop solar PV. The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme provides additional funding for government bodies to invest in renewable-energy technologies such as solar PV. We are helping a growing number of such organisations on the path to net zero, and we believe this will accelerate.

We know from our own efforts that renewable energy technologies, especially solar PV, have seen transformational advances in the past two decades. We believe it’s vital that Europe, including the UK, uses COP26 to reaffirm its collective commitment to the continued development and employment of renewable energy technologies, even if one or other of the world’s economies might falter.

Naturally, much is made of net zero costs, but the prospective benefits go beyond saving the planet. Mathematicians at the University of Oxford calculate the economic windfall available from decarbonisation at $26 trillion £19 trillion, or $14 trillion on cautious assumptions. And PV could create over four million EU jobs by 2050 according to another study.

To secure access to climate-friendly technologies, individual countries and economic communities have a responsibility to secure and act on their capacity to innovate. This mission stretches along the supply chain – from research and development, through manufacturing and distribution, to installation and maintenance.

Building a more sustainable economy will promote security of supply, ensure affordability and create wealth, employment and opportunity for future generations. We’re proud to be performing a key role in reducing carbon and creating a greener, better future, and shall continue to do so well after COP26 and beyond.


Featured image (l-r) Solarwatt CEO, Detlef Neuhaus and Pol Spronck, courtesy of Solarwatt

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