Geoff French: Implement short-and-long-term climate solutions

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As COP27 approaches we ask Global Leadership Forum member Geoff French (GF) about what needs to come next to deliver meaningful climate action.

IG: COP27 is putting the focus on practical climate actions and outcomes, so, are we making sufficient progress on meeting global and local ambitions for decarbonisation?

GF: “No, we are not yet making sufficient progress. The use of Target 2050 has made us blind to the need to make progress immediately. There are always likely to be issues such as Russia’s attack on Ukraine that divert the attention away from reducing carbon but we have to ensure nations are looking at the bigger picture.”

IG: The upcoming GLF meeting will be examining some of the challenges to progress. Who or what the key barriers or ‘blockers’ to faster climate action? 

GF: “At present there seems to be a view that we can only implement things that will still be in place in the medium to long-term. However, it is perfectly reasonable to implement those actions that can be in operation quickly – and then considering the further long-term actions that should be introduced.

“Onshore wind is a classic example of this issue, it is quick to erect and could be in operation very soon but residents living near such wind farms seem to be against their introduction. That opposition needs to be overcome for the good of everybody in the short term and they could be removed when more acceptable generators are built and put into service. One of our major challenges is our need for nuclear energy, this might be one of the best long-term solutions but they will not be in operation for at least ten years.”

IG: How important is it that we establish comprehensive and trusted carbon calculation across every part of the infrastructure industry?

GF: “Comprehensive and trusted carbon emission calculations are very important so that the policies of countries, regions and districts can be assessed on an agreed basis. However, it is vital that nations demonstrate their progress on carbon reduction even if there isn’t initially an agreed methodology.

“There is a considerable danger that the perfect is the enemy of the good – we cannot wait around for a perfect way to measure reduced carbon emissions, or we will have passed the point of no return without realising it.”

IG: What is the single most significant action available to industry to achieve climate ambitions?

GF: “I am not sure that there is one single action that will solve our climate issues – it is more important that every nation is implementing carbon reduction plans. The need for carbon reduction is now – it can’t wait until there is a comprehensive international agreement in place on how it is to be achieved.”