Article for the Dawlish Gazette by Vanessa Ryley on behalf of Dawlish Against Plastic 30.12.2020

I often listen to the radio during my morning chores and routines and I heard what turned out to be a short and very fleeting news item on Tuesday 29th December at 10 a.m. It was about HRH Prince Charles commenting that businesses were showing much more willingness to tackle climate change.

Prince Charles also made a speech at the Green Horizon Summit held at the beginning of November and organized by the City of London Corporation, in collaboration with the Green Finance Institute and supported by the World Economic Forum.

The summit focussed on the role of green finance in the recovery from Covid 19. Its premise was that the transition to a green economy is urgent and is also a significant commercial opportunity that can drive job creation and enhance the return to economic growth. Unfortunately, there is a gap in finance between our net zero ambitions and the reality of the situation. Governments around the world are still propping up the fossil fuel economy, according to analyst company Bloomberg New Energy Finance. More than half a trillion dollars worldwide – $509bn (£395bn) – is to be poured into high-carbon industries, with no conditions to ensure they reduce their carbon output. The UK still exports 70% of plastic rubbish to other countries which are even less well equipped to deal with it.

The objective of the Green Horizon Summit was to turn the talk of financial firms into actions and commitments ahead of the COP26 Summit to be held in Glasgow at the beginning of November 2021.

Although many environmental organisations have tried to keep some public focus on the care of the environment and climate change during the pandemic, the major news organisations have naturally been more concerned about the immediate issues of public health and the ability of the NHS to cope with the unprecedented demands being placed upon it.

However, there is a growing awareness among big business and finance that the future must be green. Mark Carney, former Governor of the Bank of England, and also finance adviser for the flagship COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, recently gave a series of Reith Lectures on the need for businesses to see environmental interests as investment opportunities. In an interview, he said, “The question particularly for asset owners, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and others is: How are you oriented? Are you on the right side, or the wrong side, of history?”

A coalition of businesses is committing to a Race for Zero, signing up to reduce their emissions to net zero by 2050. Over 1,000 businesses have joined the campaign, including household names such as Rolls-Royce and food and drink companies, Nestlé and Diageo.

Prince Charles and many others believe that there are now more businesses, investors and consumers prioritising sustainability. Hopefully, this push to sustainability will begin to show significant changes and benefits in the very near future for the natural environment and for ourselves.

I wish you all a new year full of renewed hope for the future and a determination to put the natural world first in whatever way you can. This will mean significant change but the dawning realisation of what is needed in practical terms can never be far from our thoughts, whatever part we play.

Our town, our planet, our future.