Western values has been a phrase the public have heard continuously over the past 24 months, the desire to protect our identity in the face of a changing tide in what is seen as good or bad, right or wrong. Ethics are not objective, there are no moral absolutes which exist separately from us as human beings. This means, ethics are subject to change and evolve as we are also subject to change. But the most recent shift in our public ethics has come as a result of a change to our environment as opposed to any humanistic moral enlightenment.
Arguably the biggest threat to our civilisation is that of climate change. There is now a real acknowledgement among the sensible of us that the time has come to truly fight a world war like never before. We are all allies in this fight against our own greed. Western values, that we desire to hold on such a pedestal can be indicative of what has caused this immediate threat to our species. Consumerism is the opioid of the masses, hooked and unwilling to give it up, we as western civilians must acknowledge that our selfish desires are certainly a factor in the severity of a global issue.
Ostensibly the changes are not too drastic, less time in the shower, walk to work, these all seem extremely manageable, yet they’re not desirable. This is the fundamental problem that western civilisation has caused in relation to the climate change battle. We have lived far too long and far too comfortably and created psychological habits that are too strong to break. If we are to change our habits for the benefit of the planet, it will not come from a sudden acknowledgement of a necessary shift in our moral ethics in relation to the environment.
Political economist Benjamin Friedan once described the western economy as a stable bicycle whose wheels that are kept continuously turning by economic growth. But should this growth falter and the wheels stop turning, the very pillars our society is built upon could fall. This analogy is one that is likely to act as the backbone to any drastic change to environmental-economic policy, either in Europe or in the States. We will not see the necessary legislation be implemented as a result of a good-hearted Samaritan in the Oval Office or at Downing Street, it must be economically appealing to the government and appealing to the consumer.
This is where the Musk Effect plays a big role in attitudes towards Renewable Energy. Australia’s renewable energy sector responded to the success of South Australia’s Tesla lithium ion battery announcing it will build the world’s largest solar thermal plant, and a wind farm in Queensland may be the site of a new record-breaking battery.
The importance of Musk and Tesla comes from their ability to create consumer excitement in the clean energy sector. It is clear that the market is now a lucrative enterprise in which competitors are keen to have a slice of the pie. Another company paving the way in the clean energy sector is sonnen. The German company are creating a community of smart energy users that allows for energy to be shared amongst its members through the sonnenCommunity. Users in Berlin, where the day maybe overcast, can access the energy generated in Munich if they are experiencing brighter weather. The possibilities this creates are endless, for example block-chain peer to peer trading of energy is now a realistic option for the future of energy trading. Perhaps hope is not lost in the ethical battle against climate change. This market innovation has a Jobs-esque feel to it and the power of collective enterprise is huge.
Innovation from the likes of sonnen and Tesla have created a clean energy culture that makes the sector attractive not only economically but also commercially. 10 years ago one could imagine 1000’s of people would be packed into a theatre to see Wicked on Broadway but one would never expect the same amount would be crammed into a theatre to see the announcement of clean energy products.
Tesla’s ability to appeal to the consumer is a driving force in changing the public’s perception of Clean Energy. No longer do people associate electric vehicles with slow, ugly functional machines but instead with the world’s fastest supercar that also happens to be electric. You see, it is the power of the people that truly effects change. Trump’s announcement that he would ensure the Coal-Industry is revived, ostensibly signalling the governments position is on the side of archaic practices, has no negative effect on the renewables industry whatsoever.
When a consumer is faced with a choice between products, they will choose the product that has the best value for money and is the most popular. It is a fact of human psychology that consumers go with what is popular. It is clear that the days of coal and fossil fuels are truly numbered. But this has not come about by the necessity to change our moral compass in the face of climate change, it is has arrived because clean energy has been made appealing to the consumer. No matter what a government does, if clean energy makes more economic sense there will be a shift in industry. If clean energy makes more economic sense and is appealing to the consumer, there will be a shift in consumer patterns and an influx of public interest in the market.
The conditions that truly allows for and shapes the clean energy sector are not based upon a heightened moral code, but the economic advantages of clean energy and the appeal to consumerism.
Hyperion Executive Search is a talent acquisition specialist within the clean energy, energy storage, eMobility and cleantech markets. We help our clients achieve their strategic goals by helping them to attract, attain and retain the key talent they need.