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PSE365: Climate change isn’t an ambition, but rather an opportunity

“Ambition is the wrong way of looking at [net-zero 2050 targets]. It is an opportunity.”

That was the view of Rupert George, Campaigns and Communication Director at UK100, explaining the real local community potential which could come along with this necessary green revolution across the public sector.

Suddenly, and particularly for those local areas which were perhaps left behind economically or had endured a very tough period during the pandemic, there is an opportunity to spark local economic opportunities, creating significant investment and jobs. It can help these communities discover and achieve a better way of life.

And that was a sentiment shared by fellow panellist Kate Dougherty, Head of Net Zero and Sustainability for Building Services as WSP, who equally shared her view that the adjective ‘ambitious’ being used to describe the 2050 targets overlooked some of the importance of the work being done.

“I don’t like using the word ambitious, because [meeting these targets] is what we have to do to avoid the worst climate outcomes. It is challenging, but we’ve got to do it.

“We need action and investment.

“It is absolutely essential that we hit that 2050 target.”

But one of the biggest elements in reframing the importance of this work and investment likely also involves changing the narrative used by those in leadership, at both a local and central level, and in how we frame the situation to the public.

As Rupert explained, it was extremely important that the Government and others better explained the net-zero requirements to the public; positioning it not as an ambitious future target we’re trying to hit, but an essential step we must make to safeguard the future for our next generations – and our own families, particularly. Understanding it in these types of context makes the behavioural shift necessary in the public an easier sell.

Kate reiterated this messaging change too: “We hear a lot about this £50bn bill [relating to climate change]; we’re framing it as a cost.

“We should be framing it as a benefit [instead].”

Kate and Rupert were joined on the panel by David Wharton, Deputy Director Cross Buildings Pillar at Crown Commercial Service, discussing all aspects of energy efficiency in public buildings; including retrofitting, heat pumps and the capital costs involved, among others.

You can watch the full panel discussion, alongside all other content from the PSE365 virtual event on-demand by joining our growing public sector community here.

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Our October/November edition of PSE brings you expert comment and analysis on a range of public sector topics, from levelling up, the cost of living crisis. Learn about EV infrastructure, or how the change of a Prime Minister can affect public sector aims.

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PSE365: Public SectorLevelling up Virtual Event | 17 Nov 2022

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End-of-life is often overlooked yet is equally as important to a digital strategy, but what happens to end-of-life technology? What is the impact on the environment, net zero targets? What is the financial impact, is value for money for the taxpayer simply discarded and destroyed along with the technology?
 

Join us on 13 September between 2:00pm-2:45pm where we look to address the lifecycle of a digital strategy with a focus on end-of-life using examples, achieving efficiency, increased sustainability and delivering cost savings.


Guest Panellists:

Adam Turner, Head of Government and Public Sector Sustainable ICT and Digital, DEFRA
Ben Levin, Senior Manager, Technology Assesment and Criteria Development, Global Electronics Council
Fredrik Forslund, Vice President, Enterprise & Cloud Erasure Solutions, Blancco
Ben Tongue, Digital Net Zero Lead, NHS England

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