Down to earth: Moonshot turns to earthshot

Back in July 1969 we finally made it to the moon. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The term used back then to make this happen was ‘moonshot’. Now today our mission turns to climate and as David Attenborough implores us to see, in his new Netflix documentary ‘A life on our planet’ at age 92, we are not saving the planet, we are saving ourselves. So moonshot turns to Earthshot. The Earthshot Prize is the name for the new initiative set up by Sir David Attenborough, Prince William, Kate and the Royal Foundation which will be awarding prizes for organisations contributing the most innovative solutions to solve our global environmental problems.

The Earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice: either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet, or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem-solve. People can achieve great things. The next ten years present us with one of our greatest tests – a decade of action to repair the Earth

Prince William

Prince Charles also working with the World Economic Forum‘s Sustainable Market Council and Harry and Megan are working on Travalyst, a sustainable travel initiative.

Ayesha Andrade and I were recently part of the Transport & Environment sustainability seminar on 24th September where Joris Melkert, Senior Lecturer TU Delft presented: “Moonshot” aircraft programmes, analysing their impact and how to support them. What steps regulators can take to develop breakthrough aircrafts.

The moonshot is a great analogy. We’ve managed to do what would have been deemed the impossible to past generations by channelling budget and drive so the impossible became scientifically and financially achievable. So now it’s time to get back down to earth.

It was discussed that it was the sheer determination and commitment of Kennedy that made this particular mission succeed. It was also noted that there had been many failed attempts before the Apollo 11 crew finally made it to the moon on 20th July 1969. Joris discussed the drivers which are key to having a macro understanding of the factors involved in the energy transitions and very validly pointed out, the ‘don’t just back one horse’ approach. The major take away being that it takes leadership, commitment, drive, finance and a common goal. David Attenborough is calling for $500 billon per year in finance and HSBC have announced their work on green financing. Chief Executive Noel Quinn told Reuters HSBC will make ‘$750 billion and $1 trillion in financing to help clients make the transition’.

The T&E seminar also invited PCS Union to discuss employment and what needs to/may happen if the shift from employment in aviation was to occur on a more permanent basis, we heard about the science of biofuels and hydrogen fuels from Dr. Valentin Batteiger at Bauhaus Luftfahrt, Frederic Thomas presented some very interesting research on traveller behaviour. Gerard Rijk discussed the economics of what needs to happen to reach 2030 targets and the Paris Agreements. The day covered off some important topics, brought some new ideas and thinking to the table. We met Transport & Environment’s Sustainable Finance Director working to accelerate finances moving towards the sector and FGA was able to present our approach and work to the group.  

The message from all presenters at the T&E event, attendees, the royals, Sir David Attenborough, the IPCC report, Transport & Environment, European Commission, FGA and many more is that we need to get the finances moving towards low carbon initiatives and we need to do this quicker, within the next 10 years or we face fatal consequences.

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