The need to radically reduce carbon emissions across the globe is a uniquely global challenge, but much of its impact and many of its choices are local. The transition to a low carbon economy is about much more than clean energy, as it represents a veritable system change. In addition to a new energy system, we’ll need new buildings and a new transport system. In the process and evolving with these changes, a new set of social and consumption norms will emerge.
While this may seem daunting, it needn’t necessarily be: Industrialization in England, the abolition of slave labour in America, the post-war reconstruction of Europe or the resurgence of China are changes of similar scale. They have all led to increased wealth and well being, while profoundly changing the societies in which they happened.
So it will be with the energy transition. It has been done before, the naysayers in their time were proven wrong and we now reap the benefit. The challenge is formulating both a compelling vision of benefits and the immediate next steps.