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opinion

Counter intuitive

The climate of culture change

The climate of culture change

“Counter intuitive facts are harder to act on. If your gut is telling you that your house is on fire, but you can’t see the smoke, it blocks your urge to run.”

James Vaccaro, Head of Market & Corporate Development at Triodos Bank urges us to retrain our intuition when it comes to climate change.

With climate change, you can’t see the fire, nor is it easy to see the smoke. So, when you pick up signals from others, your unconscious starts to form its own picture and this dominates your activities without you knowing it.

Six months ago we had the latest IPCC reports, reporting an unprecedented consensus among scientists over climate change and its causes.

But amazingly, last month a survey found that only 11 per cent of us believe that such a consensus has been reached, and almost half (47%) of us believe that the majority of scientists actually disagree on climate change and its causes.

More shocking is that only five per cent of people think wind and solar have majority public support, whereas in reality, public support of renewables is 80 per cent.

In other words, the majority think they’re in the minority.

So, our cultural intuition – picked up via the public debate and unconscious interpretation – is telling us that investing in decarbonising the economy will make us worse off at household level, when in fact the opposite is true.

“We need to start retraining our intuition and change the culture of addressing climate change.”

James Vaccaro, Head of Market & Corporate Development, Triodos Bank

In  reality, we’d be better off; the very marginal extra costs of investment are massively outweighed by efficiency gains.

A detailed study by Cambridge Econometrics shows that meeting the fourth carbon budget (4Cb) – the Government’s commitment to halve UK emission relative to 1990 by 2027 – will result in the average household being £565 better off per year.

Moreover, the study found that if we go further, and implement even deeper energy efficiency measures, cutting greenhouse gases beyond the 4CB target, this figure rises to £717.

“But wait a second”, I hear your collective unconscious crying “this can’t be right? Being green is more expensive, isn’t it? They must have factored some bogus doom and gloom into the ‘business-as-usual’ scenario?”

Well actually, no. Being green really is better for the planet and your bank balance. This report is purely based on cost. It doesn’t even take into account the holistic, quality of life benefits that would also come with a decarbonised economy.

But, if there’s one thing that is intuitive, it’s that you can be sure that those with the carbon will spend all they can to buy their way into convincing us that it is renewables that are expensive, and we’ll save money if we grant them their license to frack, drill and burn.

They are valued by the reserves that they hold so they have a vested interest in delaying the truth – that they can’t use it all.

If those with carbon were to burn all their reserves, it would fry the planet. Therefore, they want to retain the status quo because they know they’ve been overvalued.

So, they will continue to try and manipulate people into thinking that renewables are expensive when all the evidence points to the opposite being true.

If you are there thinking, “but we are talking years into the future. If this is true, surely there will be international agreements in place by then?”

By then it will be too late. We have to act now.

So, cometh the election, we need to be wary of the influences of self interest.

We need to start retraining our intuition and change the culture of addressing climate change.

James Vaccaro is Head of Market & Corporate Development at Triodos Bank

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Ioanes 4 years ago

I would like some citations supporting renewable energy sources are just as energy efficient as current methods as well as less expensive. http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2014/08/cost-renewable-energy read the the report unfortunately unless someone invents cold fusion fossil fuels are here to stay for energy production.