I’ve called this talk “There Is No Planet B” because it’s a bit of a catchphrase1 at the moment – Greta Thunberg used it at a recent climate conference, as you know. It’s also the title of a book by Mike Berners-Lee, from the University of Lancaster – and if his name rings a bell, it’s because his brother Tim founded the world wide web. Well, his book outlines some of the biggest climate changes the world currently faces and what we could do about them. I truly recommend it!
Now, I know there are always voices of doubt – I’ve had a few naysayers2 already saying “don’t make us feel guilty for destroying the planet” and “remember the Ice Age – global warming isn’t just a manmade thing”. Well … so what if it isn’t? Whatever you think causes greenhouse gases, using up the earth’s finite resources is 100% human. The planet doesn’t drill for its own oil. The fossil fuel industry might say “we all depend on oil – everything you buy relies on something having been delivered by a petrol-driven vehicle at some point; fossil fuels are the backbone of our comfortable lifestyles!” … well … they won’t be when they’re all gone. There is no oilfield B!
So, our company wants to make more than just a token effort – we don’t want to be accused of greenwashing, claiming to be eco-friendly while actually continuing as we always have. To do that, every one of us needs to be on board, including the doubters – because saving the planet means saving money too! If you fill your car with petrol, there’s only a certain number of journeys you can make before you have to fill her up again! The longer you can avoid using the car, the more time before you have to pay for more petrol. The same should go for water, gas and electricity: the trouble is you turn on the tap and there’s always water; you turn the knob and the gas comes out; the lights always come on at the flick of a switch. You get your bill every quarter and think “hmm, that’s gone up a bit!”, but what if those utilities were actually just like that tank of petrol? You’d soon think twice about using water if it came from a tank in the garden and you had to pay for someone to fill it up every time – particularly if when you phoned them they said “nah, sorry mate, it’s all gone”.
Our company pledge is for every member of staff to do one thing less in your working life, one thing less in your home life and even one thing less in your social life. In work life, you might print less, or do it double-sided; in your own time, cover yourself in soap in the shower before you turn the water on; when you’re with friends, put all your phones in the middle of the table and pledge not to look at them until you leave – you’re using the phone less, so you won’t have to charge the battery so soon, and you’ll use less of the electricity in the tank.
Now, I’ve created a pledge page on the intranet3 site – if you’d like to go there now, you’ll see it on the right-hand side. I’m gonna stop talking for a moment or two and ask you to go there now and enter some pledges …