Travelling to London for a client meeting I discovered that the trains between Birmingham and London had been suspended because a hill at Leamington Spa had slipped onto the track.
This has meant that 350,000 tonnes of material needs to be moved before trains can return to normal service. There will be weeks of inconvenience for commuters to London as well as the associated turmoil with the rail network. This is a very small example of the huge and very real impact a natural system can have on our world when destabilised.
The reports and warnings about climate change are now such a constant background to modern life that most of us have probably stopped noticing. The Leamington Spa hill slip got me thinking about the potential impact for me and my family if the high end predictions for climate change came to fruition in my lifetime.
Based on scenario planning by Forum for the Future we are possibly going to be living in a world which is a blend of 5 potential scenarios;
1. Efficiency first – where rapid innovation in energy efficiency and novel technologies has enabled a low-carbon economy with almost no need for changes in lifestyle or business practice
2. Service transformation – A high price of carbon has ushered in a revolution in how people’s needs are satisfied
3. Redefining progress – New priorities of ‘wellbeing’ and ‘quality of life’ are bubbling up across the world as more sustainable forms of living become established
4. Environmental war economy – Tough measures have been adopted to combat climate change, pushing markets to the very limit of what they can deliver
5. Protectionist world – Globalisation has gone into retreat and countries focus on security and access to resources at any cost
The more volatile the outcomes for climate change the more extreme will be the changes in our future living standards.
So this Leamington hill has reminded me that systems that are in equilibrium can change quickly and have a large and unexpected impact on our daily routine. It has also spurred me on to ensure the difference that LCMB makes for the environment and our clients in reducing the natural and financial resources that they use operating their buildings is as large as possible. Buildings consume between 30 and 40% of global energy, account for 8.6 giga tonnes of carbon dioxide and a quarter of world emissions and overall buildings have a higher CO2 mitigation potential than any other sector. Our work with clients has proved that energy use in buildings can be reduced by 20 to 30% and operational cost by 10 to 15%.
In helping our clients reduce their environmental impact we are also mitigating the future impact of climate change for ourselves and our families, now that’s a difference worth making!