Heat accounts for more than half the world’s carbon emissions – and yet it barely gets a mention in the climate change or renewable energy debate, where the focus has always been on decarbonising electricity. If we stand any chance of saving the planet from climatic disaster, we have to wake up to the huge danger posed by heat emissions. Could focusing on heat in energy communications help save the day?
Heat is just as much a part of our everyday lives as electricity; we use it in our homes to make food and keep warm, while industry uses heat to make goods, for example, to bake biscuits in a commercial oven or as steam to process chemicals and paper.
But until recently, the UK’s energy policy focus has largely only tackled electricity decarbonisation and so too has the media narrative. If we are to hurdle this final challenge, heat must be front and centre.
Decarbonising heat requires momentous change, whether that be converting the gas network to hydrogen or the electrification of heat. Successful rollout will require a significant level of positive sentiment and PR is an excellent way for the energy sector to educate, elevate and evidence the pathways that incentivise action.
As decarbonisation synergies between transport, storage, heat and electricity emerge the message we need to communicate is both more powerful and yet more complex; a step away from what we know into the future.
And yet a void remains. If we want to meet the climate change challenge then the world needs businesses to take a lead on the crucial importance of heat emissions. That translates into a massive and sustained global communications programme until everyone wakes up the damage being done by fossil fuel-based heat.