Collaboration over confrontation – in the words of Lesley Rudd

Categories: Blog

I’d like to think that we are all now aware of the impact of Climate Change. Recent events have certainly shown that our children are. In our fight to protect the planet, public attention often focuses on plastic reduction and compassion for wildlife, but we mustn’t let this belie other factors that often play a very important part.

For a start, we should be looking at our buildings. Already a significant contributor to carbon emissions and climate change, we must update our existing buildings and commit to building better new ones so that all our buildings are low carbon and energy efficient. Given the ever-closing window for change addressed in the recent IPPR report, in order to avoid climate catastrophe, we must create living and working spaces fit for generations to come.

There is no denying that decarbonising our heating is one of the biggest challenges before us here in the UK. As we drive to reduce carbon emissions, we must all work together to value the importance of improving the energy performance of our buildings so that we can get the job done. The Sustainable Energy Association encourages a technology agnostic approach, focusing on solutions rather than problems by developing ideas that move us forward rather than hold us back. Our members include manufacturers of a range of heating solutions including gas, electric and biomass as well as insulation (the ‘first fuel’). They are active and engaged in the decarbonisation challenge.

Of course, like all challenges, decarbonisation of our buildings and energy system is best tackled together. With no straight forward answer or solution, strong and inclusive teamwork will prove much more insightful and effective than any one technology or organisation alone. The transition from our existing heating systems to low carbon ones will involve new technologies, new fuels, new skills and new business models and there is a lot of change and adaption to come. As we go on this journey, there will be tough decisions to make but we can make the transition much smoother if all parts of the industry cooperate and work together.

Coming from the North-East of England, I have first-hand experience of how a transition (involving coal) became confrontational and I urge others to choose collaboration over conflict as we move forward with the clean energy transition.

As I think about the importance of inclusivity and collaboration within the industry, I can’t help but touch on the importance of gender balance in the workplace. So much research points towards the benefits of diversity, highlighting the important role women play in collaborating, building relationships and resolving conflict. Regardless of gender, shouldn’t we all be embracing these characteristics, building relationships, and working together? We should all choose collaboration over confrontation – for the sake of our children. They won’t forgive us if we destroy their future.