Time is running out for any hope of keeping climate change within two degrees Celsius and thereby avoiding the cataclysm of self-perpetuating, runaway global warming. I feel ashamed of the mass inaction of my generation and the impact it will have on future generations; they will look back in anger and disbelief at how we fed our material appetites with such scant regard for the health of our planet. Despite the urgency, and the scientific consensus, governments continue to put energy prices, votes and industry lobbying ahead of our collective future.
Riverford uses a staggering three gigawatts of electricity a year – equivalent to the output of eight football pitches’ worth of solar panels. Since 2007, we have bought green electricity from Ecotricity; mostly generated by sun and wind, and currently supplied through the National Grid. Ecotricity’s calculations show that with their help, we’ve prevented 665 tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere over the last 12 months alone. It would take nearly 321,000 trees to absorb that much carbon in a year.
Perhaps we might feel absolved of responsibility – but I think we can, and should, do better. I would rather someone else bought that green electricity and we generated our own. I dream that within ten years, the advance of battery technology will enable us to generate most, if not all, of our own power from on-farm wind turbines and solar panels. Then I will be able to rest easy, without shame. It will be a technical challenge, and probably need outside investment, but I suspect it will be a better use of our money and give a better return than any bank or pension fund can offer. We hope to work in partnership with Ecotricity on this project.