Safeguarding our climate

Safeguarding our climate in a new decade

The climate crisis is one of the biggest global challenges we’re facing. We’re at a moment of disruptive transition and are in an ‘energy revolution’ to meet The Paris Agreement.

This is according to Professor Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Professor of Earth and System Science at the University of Potsdam, who spoke at our Innovation Days event in Essen, Germany. 

“The planet is subsidising our wealth [as countries], even in 2019.”

For the past 11,700 years, Prof. Rockström explains we’ve been in a “Garden of Eden” geological epoch, named the Holocene since the last ice age, where the Earth’s temperature remained constant until the industrial revolution.

But in the last 50 years we have exponentially increased the pressures placed on the Earth. Humans have caused mass extinctions of plant and animal species, increased levels of pollution and increased the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. This has brought us to the point of entering a new geological era – the Anthropocene geological epoch – setting us on a different trajectory.

“It could wind the climate clock back 10 million years – this is the big picture of what is at stake.”

Many of the environmental changes that we’ve created are recent in geological terms but are irreversible. Prof. Rockström believes we can already declare the first victim of the climate emergency: the coral reef. And the Amazon is very close to an irreversible tipping point, faster than we anticipated. If global temperatures continue to rise and deforestation in the Amazon increases, the Amazon could quickly stop producing enough rain to sustain itself.

“At four degrees warming, we risk turning the Amazon into a savannah.”

We’re at the brink of climate extinction, explains Prof. Rockström. But we can still prevent this and create a sustainable future - there’s no evidence to suggest we’ve entered an “inevitable and irreversible future”. Humans are the biggest driver of change on Earth and there’s rising evidence that what we do in the next 50 years will determine what happens over the next 10,000 years.

“It is not a coincidence that science says that 2020 is a super year.”

Our access to science and data means we have insider information on the world to come. We have the technologies and opportunities available to stabilise the Earth’s temperature and tackle the climate crisis – it’s just a question of ambition and scale.

At E.ON, we believe significant change is possible with large-scale action and we’re committed to leading by example. The burning of fossil fuels is unequivocally linked to the climate emergency and we need to change the way we use energy – it’s why we now supply all our residential customers in the UK with electricity backed by 100% renewable sources1.

“To achieve a net-zero economy by 2050 requires that we cut emissions by half, every decade.”

Energy efficiency needs to be a national priority. We currently have around 19 million homes in the UK which do not have a good enough energy efficiency rating. We’re calling on the government to deliver policies which will tackle this and bring in initiatives to increase the UK’s energy efficiency, from better insulation to heat networks. The power of heat networks is already apparent with the creation of innovative new technology, such as ectogridTM, connecting cities with a flexible grid which distributes thermal energy.

Low-emission technology is also a great enabler of achieving a net-zero economy. And we’re working towards improving the UK’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure through our offering of at-home and workplace charging as well as our first ultra-fast charging points in Birmingham

We also encourage our customers to generate their own renewable energy through solar panels and battery storage, heat pumps, battery storage and even combined heat and power plants for our larger business customers. 

  1. Electricity sourced from E.ON’s renewable generation assets, supply agreements with independent UK wind generators and the purchase of renewable electricity certificates. The electricity supplied to your homes comes from the National Grid. Find out more at eonenergy.com/renewable