The scientist, the campaigner, and the schoolgirl, where sits the power?

A few years ago when the originators of CCETv drew more attention to the fact that houses leak and waste massive amounts of energy, they were aware of the dangers of looking like financially unfashionable “tree huggers” but we felt strongly that when people improved

their home’s the addition of energy efficiency would save long term money, create more comfort and increase the value of homes far in excess of a coat of “slate blue paint”, which has never been known to save the future of the planet.As CCETv was developing some like Anna Shiel of Big Society Capital and Sir Roger Gifford saw the many benefits of our work. Yet even when Sir Roger, who was taking the first steps to create the Green Finance Institute and is an ex-Lord Mayor of the City of London,suggested people who should embrace our initiative, silence was our only reply, as against the now financial clamour to be “green”. Nevertheless, there is always the question of how many corporations are in fact just chasing finance by “greenwashing” as against showing intention by action not by headline?

Yet awareness of the planet’s dangers has undergone a massive change through a young Swedish schoolgirl whose determination has radically changed the financial climate. The question must be asked, why Greta Thunberg has had more worldwide influence than James Hansen the Director of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Rafe Pomerance the then Operating Chief of Friends of the Earth, when their efforts nearly achieved a halt to the Earth’s destruction over thirty years ago. What they did is well documented in a feature article by Nathaniel Rich in the New York Times and then expanded in the book “Losing Earth”

In 1989 their work nearly succeeded at the Ministerial Conference on Atmospheric Pollution and Climate Change at the Noordwijk Conference in Holland to get the world to action but Britain, Russia, Japan and the newly elected President Bush senior - who had included some

sustainability in the then recent Presidential campaign - completely diluted and destroyed the venture. But why? The book shows clearly who to suspect.

As Nathaniel Rich’s article states: “More carbon has been released into the atmosphere since the final day of the Noordwijk Conference, Nov. 7, 1989, than in the entire history of civilization preceding it. In 1990, humankind emitted more than 20 billion metric tons of

carbon dioxide. By 2017, the figure had risen to 32.5 billion metric tons, a record… Like most human questions, the carbon-dioxide question will come down to fear. At some point, the fears of young people will overwhelm the fears of the old. Sometime after that, the young will amass enough power to act. It will be too late to avoid some catastrophes, but perhaps not others. Humankind is nothing if not optimistic, even to the point of blindness. We are also an adaptable species… the billions of dollars invested in research, the nonbinding

treaties, the investments in renewable energy — the only number that counts, the total quantity of global greenhouse gas emitted per year, has continued its inexorable rise.” At CCETv we cherish the picture when Greta spoke to Parliamentarians, with the then Environmental Secretary – Michael Gove – owlishly looking on, for as David Attenborough said about Greta “You speak for your generation”

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