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Unexpected leaders

Fully Charged’s Dan Caesar explains why a lack of political leadership shouldn’t be the end of the world
Close-up of an electric car charging

This article first appeared in our COP27 special issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published on 11 November 2022. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

When David Cameron – remember him? – denigrated renewable energy and energy efficiency by calling it ‘green crap’ in 2013, I feared the worst.

At the time I was running The Renewables Roadshow, a series of events designed to take cleaner tech on a nationwide tour of the UK.

Meanwhile, on a parallel track, my friend Robert Llewellyn, founder of the Fully Charged Show, was educating consumers about electric cars.

In the US Tesla was 10 years into its electric journey and winning awards with the Model S. Germany’s energiewende was still in its nascency and China was entering the 12th five-year plan of its long-term energy policy, as it sensed the biggest transfer of wealth in modern history.

In 2015, the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal broke – an egregious breach of trust in which German carmakers (principally, but not only, VW) were caught cheating emissions tests.

The following year Tesla announced its intention to bring the Model 3 to market, and despite the scorn poured on the company then, now it strikes fear into the heart of the legacy car industry.

And what of Greta Thunberg? Well, she was waiting in the wings if you like, and started her School Strike for Climate in 2018 at the tender age of 15.

Politics and green energy

I could quote hundreds of examples of leadership coming from unexpected sources, and yet relatively little has changed within ‘the establishment’.

In fact, and I can scarcely believe this, the UK’s establishment was, at the time of writing – and (very much) against ‘the will of the people’ – about to start licensing fracking.

Would this lower energy bills, the purported reason for these licenses? No. Note that Jacob Rees-Mogg was at the time Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

Is there a genuine prospect that fracking will get the green light? Almost certainly not. But it’s just another cynical, insidious way to delay the progress of more democratic technologies like wind and solar.

Our government’s proposal to cap energy bills and make us – the taxpayer – pay for it over the long term, rather than taking a windfall tax from those that are profiting, beggars belief.

The truth, though, is that the move towards battery electric vehicles (BEVs), energy storage, solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy are megatrends. Despite all best efforts, these megatrends are unstoppable.

Electrification is inevitable

Megatrends dwarf politics. Politicians (and their backers) would have been powerless to prevent the rise of smartphones, tablets and laptops, and they are powerless again.

Whatever the crisis – wildfires in Canada, droughts in Europe, flooding in Pakistan, conflict in Ukraine – all roads lead to renewables. Every event hastens the inevitable rise of electrification.

This is the beginning of the death rattle for fossil fuels. Mark my words, the volatility of the cost of filling your tank with petrol, or heating your home using gas, is only going to get worse. Much worse.

So let’s get off these pernicious poisons. It doesn’t need to start with electric cars and heat pumps, it can start with insulation, turning down the thermostat and reducing the flow temperature of your boiler. And as an added benefit, your actions can choke off the dinosaurs, disaster capitalists and deregulators of this world.

#StopBurningStuff

Leadership comes in many different forms – we see it every day.  We see it from the countless companies we work and deal with, in the people we meet and often in the most unexpected places.

For our part at the Fully Charged Show, we remain bloody-mindedly focused on our singular objective: to inspire people to #StopBurningStuff.

Make no mistake: the combustion era is coming to a close. The air we breathe will be cleaner, we will be able to slow the climate crisis and our lives will be better, too.

So whatever you do, do something. Even if it’s just tuning in to the Fully Charged Show on YouTube every Tuesday and Thursday. We all have to start somewhere – and behind every action is an unexpected leader.

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