We were at the Thames Vision Environment Conference, asking the question: “What does Net Zero really look like on the Tidal Thames for people, trade, ecology and transport?” The conference was an opportunity for us to find out the latest Thames environmental updates which will be passed on to the schools, councils, businesses and communities that we work with, and who are involved in A Future without Rubbish project. Also, we organised the first trip to the Thames foreshore for the Agents of this program.
On Tuesday, 28th of January 2020 the Port of London Authority (PLA) hosted the conference, to explore the opportunities and challenges that the decarbonisation drive offers.
There is “a real moment now, now that the world is waking up” declared PLA’s CEO Robin Mortimer and Tanya Ferry at the beginning of the day (photographed below). Whether it is air pollution or the loss of biodiversity everywhere it was heartening that the issue was no longer niche, which it was in the 90s, he said. “Every person now knows that climate change is the No.1 issue. For adapting to this new paradigm, what will be the cost? And with what time frame in this environmental and climate emergency?” he queried.
Then speakers such as
•Joe Peccorelli from ZSL,
•Denise Rowley and Molly Tucker of the PLA,
•Sefinat Otaru from the Cross River Partnership for a ‘Clean Air Thames and
•Sam Strivens from the Carbon Trust
covered the potential of ammonia, hydrogen and electrification-powered vessels and other new technologies.
Joe Peccorelli was particularly uplifting about the Thames’ future – “it will look and be wonderful, with wetlands, backwaters and saltmarshes…and saltmarshes are better at carbon capture than trees – so come on!”
Everything said and explored was in the context of the Tideway project, which will make the Thames “the cleanest it has been since the Romans!” (Robin Mortimer).
In these troubling times, that is something to be positive about.
And with this positive thinking the more you look, the more you find – restoration and conservation does really work for wildlife and economics too – as proven in Georgia, recently here.
Decades ago, the loggerhead turtle was in real existential trouble: in 1978 it was a “threatened” species. Now, thousands of nests happen every year. Saved and returning, due to the collaborative nature of the local community. This is what is happening in the Thames too, and the trajectory looks fruitful for all. We are all benefitting.
Here, we have the target of Net Zero – now let’s go!