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The climate emergency


“We are damaging our futures unless we step in with a comprehensive strategy to manage the climate change challenge,” Professor Sir David King told an Enterprise Tuesday event at Cambridge Judge Business School.

Front view of small child holding placard poster on landfill, environmental pollution concept.
David King.
Sir David King

The accelerating global impact of climate change was the focus of a recent Enterprise Tuesday event organised by the Entrepreneurship Centre at Cambridge Judge Business School, with special guest Professor Sir David King, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge and Founder and Chair of the University’s Centre for Climate Repair.

The session was chaired by Dr Emily Shuckburgh, Director of Cambridge Zero, the University of Cambridge’s major climate change initiative, and the evening was introduced by Christoph Loch, Dean of Cambridge Judge Business School.

In the session, Sir David King discussed how civilisation can in the midst of the climate-change crisis win back chances of survival, and he outlined opportunities for transformational change through innovation and entrepreneurship.

Here are some edited excerpts of the conversation at Enterprise Tuesday:

Dr Emily Shuckburgh: “There is an increase in extreme weather events around the world as a result of climate change. We can see a large increase in number of extreme heat days – disruption to businesses and human health. Further warming threatens catastrophic changes.”

Emily Shuckburgh.
Dr Emily Schuckburgh

Sir David King: “I believe what we do, and by ‘we’ I mean humanity as a whole over the next five years, could well determine the future of humanity. This is a critical time. Thirty years from now we could see up to 200 million people looking for somewhere else to live, as they will be no longer able to live where they currently are. This is a big crisis for the world as we are threatened by rising sea levels. We have no time left. If we don’t act now we are really going to be watching a disaster evolve on a very large scale.

“We have an enormous task to achieve no more than 1.5 degrees centigrade temperature rise and that’s where all of the opportunities in the challenges for the business community arise. Globally, we need to move away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible.”

Dr Emily Shuckburgh: “We need entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs to come in across sectors – energy, transport, agriculture, buildings, industry – to removal and waste. We need to evolve new technologies to replace all fossil fuels that have been mined over last 150 years. There is a creation of a new market for new technologies to become competitive.”

Sir David King: “Take a good look at the ocean. There is a whole range of potential of new technologies. We must improve biosystems as well as remove fossil fuel.”

“Now is the time for economies to move away from super consumerism, that is yesterday’s idea. It was very successful but not fit for purpose in the 21st Century. Invest in companies delivering into this new emerging space. There are opportunities for investment in the long term which will be very profitable.”

“The entire system in Cambridge encourages entrepreneurship and climate repair technologies. Our science parks have been around for many years. We’ve got investors picking out spinouts. We have a great wealth of new companies emerging, which is wonderful.”

The next series of Enterprise Tuesday will be held in November. You can register your interest online.