About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

This event took place on Tuesday 31 May. The recording is available below.

In this Nesta talks to… Andrew Sissions, Nesta’s sustainable future mission Deputy Director is joined by Corrine Sawers and Eric Longeran, authors of Supercharge, a powerful new manifesto on how to decarbonise our society quickly.  

We know our global economy is not transitioning to net zero fast enough and that we need to drastically reduce carbon emissions to mitigate climate change. The scale of the change can seem overwhelming, leaving us vulnerable to ignoring the problem. Corrine and Eric’s new book is grounded in positive realism about how governments, businesses and individuals actually behave to offer a solution to the climate emergency. It draws lessons and introduces practical ideas based on what has worked so far across the globe, examining several notable case studies, positive incentives and regulations. 

During the event, Andrew, Corrine and Eric, who are keen to reframe the climate crisis as an opportunity, dive into some of the key questions the book explores: what are the key obstacles to achieving net zero and how can we implement policies that make greener alternatives cheaper, accessible and desirable for consumers?

The solution, Corrine and Eric argue, is to focus on changing the narrative around what it will take to achieve net zero. Almost all of the technology needed to reach net zero exists, Corrine explains, despite many people still being under the illusion that large, inaccessible and expensive technological leaps are needed to drastically reduce emissions. What is missing, Eric highlights, is a targeted focus on people and policy. Many of us remain under the impression that rapid decarbonisation will mean large-scale sacrifices to our quality of life. All evidence suggests that this simply isn’t true, the authors argue. In fact, derisking our energy supply to accelerate decarbonisation would improve the stability of electricity, as well as dramatically reduce costs for the consumer.

Rather than focusing on the technology needed to implement these changes, Corrine and Eric take a pragmatic look at the policy changes needed to improve takeup of green initiatives. Most importantly, they argue, these technologies need to be cheaper and accessible to businesses. The book examines several examples of the policies that underpin key instances of widespread positive behavioural change, such as the near-universal adoption of electric vehicles in many Scandinavian countries.

Policymakers have to remain grounded in reality about the driving factors behind behavioural change. Key to making these changes sustainable, Eric highlights, are the introductions of policies that help businesses shift their empirical interests towards greener alternatives. This involves calculated use of taxation, subsidy and governmental support.

It’s clear that our policy and narratives associated with climate change need dramatically altering. But, as Corrine and Eric point out, there has never been a better time to do so – we are supported by technological advances that would have been unthinkable even 50 years ago. With calculated policy changes, net zero may be a lot closer than we think.

The opinions expressed in this event recording are those of the speakers. For more information, view our full statement on external contributors.