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Hitachi Sustainability

16 August 2021
Alistair Dormer, Chief Environmental Officer, Hitachi, Ltd.

Climate Change Requires A Herculean Effort: Are We Ready For The Podium?

As the dust settles on a truly unforgettable summer, it really struck me how much common ground there is between sport and the upcoming COP26.

Sport is about making history, COP26 is about shaping the future, but human ambition is at the very heart of both. And whether you’re seeking to win - or stop global warming, the qualities required are the same – relentless commitment, dogged determination and best-in-class expertise. These achievements are hard earned.

But all the skill and effort in the world doesn’t guarantee success. You absolutely need a sense of collective spirit and cooperation – we saw that in abundance in this summer’s sporting events where the achievements of the few were celebrated by the many.

As the world’s attention turns to Glasgow, we need to embrace this collaborative spirit if we are to reach the climate change podium. Of course, individual nations have their own priorities and competition is good, but this is something much bigger than that and something we need to work together on. The recent sporting lifted nations and gave us hope and COP26 can do the same.

Ultimately, we need more businesses to set net zero targets and join the Race to Zero. And there is no doubt in my mind that Japan has a key role to play in the innovation that will accelerate the energy transition. As a nation it has a rich heritage of technological innovation, and this will need to be at the fore if we are to solve the climate crisis in Japan.

At Hitachi we share this passion for innovation and now is the time for government and industry to come together to harness the power of technology for good. There is a huge opportunity for R&D teams here – imagine if we could

develop something that could eat carbon rather than putting it under the ocean? That would represent a massive step change, taking something which is harming the planet and turning it into something that creates value. To achieve this, we need to firstly create the technology that moves beyond wind and creates power through other sources, and secondly find something that eats carbon and creates something good.

We’ve seen some positive progress in terms of government announcements but the headlines from the recent IPCC report do not make good reading with the warning that human activity has caused “irreversible” changes and that climate change will probably cause global temperatures to rise by more than 1.5C.

Quite honestly, it’s too late to be talking about wake up calls, it’s time for action. It’s time for business to convert recent government commitments into actual projects that the private sector can deliver – for example, in Italy there’s now a very clear government plan around eight key pillars of investment and that has really encouraged the private sector to engage. Business knows there’s a commitment, funding and a desired outcome so they can really concentrate their efforts around this. In the UK the government’s 11 Point Plan is also a positive and simple blueprint which highlights its key priorities. Both are examples of good roadmaps, but we need to see more like them.

As a climate change innovator, we believe Hitachi needs to lead by example which is why one of our major commitments is to halve our energy bill by 2030. In terms of projects, in Japan we’re trialling an IOT system to audit energy consumption and CO2 emissions – we’re doing that with three of our own factories and this will help us focus our investment. Plus, we’re in regular dialogue with the top 70% by value of our supply chain about their own decarbonisation plans.

Partnerships are also right at the heart of our approach – we’ve joined forces with Shenzhen Bus Group (SZBG), one of the largest new energy public transportation groups in the world, to help European bus operators and municipalities electrify their bus fleets. SZBG brings a wealth of operational expertise to the partnership having electrified its own fleet of over 10,000 vehicles. This experience, combined with Hitachi’s own knowledge of charging infrastructure, delivering mobility as a service, and managing commercial fleets, will help customers accelerate electrification of their fleets. We’ve also teamed up with Arrival to deliver new bus and infrastructure solutions to the European bus industry. This non-exclusive partnership combines Hitachi’s digital and operational capabilities with Arrival’s best in class products.

So, as the build up to COP26 gathers pace, we all need to bring our A-Game to the party. COP26 has the potential to do for climate change what sport can do for fans – but only if nations, governments and businesses are prepared to match the effort and commitment demonstrated by our athletes.

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