Revolutions are great moments in history that transform our political, social and economic systems. Beginning in 1750 in Great Britain, and ending in 1900, the Industrial Revolution is an important transition in history that defines our economy today. Historians have identified that the Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain because of its geography (ability to trade), social changes, human capital, political stability and the immense supply and access to coal. New machines that were powered by coal enabled the economy to shift to a manufacturing one, which increased production and efficiency, and led to more goods available at lower prices. Scholars provide contrasting views; some say that The Industrial Revolution increased wages and the standard of living for all, whilst others say that it exacerbated inequalities through appalling poverty and associated ill health. The focus of historians in understanding The Industrial Revolution was largely on the socioeconomic challenges, and sometimes successes, it brought. However, we now know that there is an unprecedented global challenge that it has brought upon us.
Why has the time come for a Revolution?
The Industrial Revolution was predominantly powered by coal. Coal contains 45-86% carbon, and takes millions of years of being buried deep underground to form. When we burn coal, we disturb the carbon cycle by releasing carbon into the atmosphere at an accelerated rate. Since The Industrial Revolution, we have released 1.5 trillion tonnes of CO2 pollution globally, increasing atmospheric concentrations from 280 ppm to 421 ppm as of May 2022. A dependence on fossil fuels was not the only damaging characteristic of the modern economy. Social scientists argue that The Industrial Revolution contributed to a shift in how we view and interact with the natural world, due to the transfer from agricultural labour that is close to the land, to alienating factory work. Nature has been detached from humans and perceived by the modern economist as merely a bundle of resources that can be extracted and used without consequence.
Humans and the economy, however, are not separate from the natural world. We are intimately connected to nature and our success is dependent upon a healthy environment. We now know that releasing trillions of tonnes of CO2 has come at a great price. We have exceeded 4 of the 9 planetary boundaries, which we must stay within if we want to develop and thrive for generations to come. To live within the climate change planetary boundary and thus in a safe space, atmospheric carbon concentrations must stay within 350 ppm, but it has been exceeded due to the relentless release of fossil fuels. Exceeding this boundary is yet another line of evidence showing that we are no longer living in an geological era where the planet is stable, predictable, and facilitates human development. We are now living in a geological era of mass extinctions, global warming, and extreme weather events that cause devastation throughout the globe. It is clear that a fossil fuel based economy is turning our planet into a place where we cannot survive, which is why the time has come for a Climate Revolution!
“Nature has been detached from humans and perceived by the modern economist as merely a bundle of resources that can be extracted and used without consequence.”
We all need to be Revolutionaries. Now!
The consequences of climate change have led academics, activists, and citizens like myself to call for a Climate Revolution. We want an economy with an alternative vision for growth and development. An economy that does not rely on fossil fuels, but is characterised by net zero emissions, minimal waste and pollution, and protects the planet’s ecological balance. This Climate Revolution has started in the UK and is picking up pace. I believe the work we do at Green Angel Syndicate (GAS) is a way to effectively drive forward the transition we need. A mechanism utilised by the government and private sector to transform to a net zero economy is investment; for example the government’s Net Zero Strategy has committed to unlocking £90 billion in green investment by 2030. Without this investment we cannot develop and deploy innovative technologies that reduce emissions and regenerate the environment.
A graph of the funding applicants GAS has received between July 2019 – June 2022 per sector and sub-sector. The applicants included have passed GAS’ initial selection stage and are therefore relevant in the fight against climate change.
Source: GAS Internal Analysis
“This Climate Revolution has started in the UK and is picking up pace. I believe the work we do at Green Angel Syndicate (GAS) is a way to effectively drive forward the transition we need.”
Working for GAS, I see first hand the growing scope of innovative technologies that can decarbonise the economy, and contribute to the Climate Revolution. GAS receives hundreds of funding applications each year from start-ups that offer green solutions across a spread of sectors: energy, transport, buildings, food & agriculture, industry & recycling, carbon removal & nature-based solutions, and others. I have seen that over time the number of green business solutions in each sector has increased, and amongst this transition, new sectors and sub-sectors are also emerging within the economy.
Greater investment in green innovations and the subsequent growing prevalence of sustainable businesses across sectors, are evidence that The Climate Revolution is underway in the UK. The companies that apply for funding with GAS are placing the environment at the heart of their operations. They show a shift away from viewing the environment as merely a bundle of resources for extraction, to the environment being intimately connected to the economy and to us. It is the bloom of a mindset that has been lost in the modern economy, and if it keeps its momentum, I hope it will lead to an economy absent of burning fossil fuels and destruction.
The thought of being a revolutionary, adopting a new mindset, and changing the current economic system may sound scary, but the alternative is much worse. There are many ways we can maintain the momentum of The Climate Revolution. GAS will keep doing what it does best – sourcing, selecting, and investing in companies that are fighting climate change. You can join them by investing in the Climate Change Fund, or by becoming a member and choosing companies you would like to invest in. There are also other options if you do not have money to invest; you can educate yourself and others, make lifestyle changes, or get in touch with me to share your thoughts and open up a discussion on what we can do for the Climate Revolution.
“Working for GAS, I see first hand the growing scope of innovative technologies that can decarbonise the economy, and contribute to the Climate Revolution.”
Photo by Paddy O Sullivan on Unsplash.