This year, we’re supporting International Women’s Day on 8 March 2021: a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
The theme for 2021 is #ChoosetoChallenge – and it’s a theme that resonates with our mission to address the climate emergency and rise to the challenge of helping the UK reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
In the lead up to International Women’s Day on 8 March, over the next few days we’ll share how we’re choosing to challenge – from celebrating women we admire to highlighting individuals who are taking action at Energy Saving Trust.
You can follow our progress on our International Women’s Day campaign page, as well as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – and remember to join the conversation on social media through #IWD2021 and #ChoosetoChallenge.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked four of our colleagues how they connect with this year’s #ChoosetoChallenge theme.
We also wanted to know how they are making small, everyday changes in their lives to address the climate emergency.
Here’s what they had to say.
Ahead of International Women’s Day, we spoke to Emilie Carmichael, our head of international collaboration, about her experience of completing a major home renovation with the climate emergency in mind.
By including several energy efficiency improvements, solar PV panels and a low carbon heat pump, Emilie’s redesign has gone beyond the minimum building regulations now required as she looks ahead to complete decarbonisation by 2050.
As part of our work on LEIA, we co-chair the Efficiency for Access secretariat, a global coalition working to promote high performing appliances that enable access to clean energy for the world’s poorest people. It is a catalyst for change, accelerating the growth of off-grid appliance markets to boost incomes, reduce carbon emissions, improve quality of life, and support sustainable development.
Here, we’ve shared two case studies from our work with LEIA and Efficiency for Access that have addressed the relationship between gender and energy access.
Case study #1: Enhancing access to renewable energy for women and girls
Energy Saving Trust manages the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund, which provides funding for research and development projects with the aim of accelerating the availability, affordability, efficiency and performance of a range of low energy inclusive appliances that are particularly suited to developing country contexts and promote social inclusion.
In October 2020, the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund awarded 20 organisations a total of £2.9 million in funding for innovative, solar-powered technology projects.
These projects will help level the playing field while addressing the climate emergency, and enhance access to renewable energy for women, girls and other vulnerable groups.
One of the recipients is Neopenda. The company’s project, ‘A wireless vital signs monitor for newborn babies’, will pilot an affordable and wireless vital signs technology in low-resource health facilities in East Africa. The neoGuard technology will monitor essential body functions of critically ill newborns, such as temperature and pulse rate. This will help increase the survival rate of newborn babies.
Neopenda aims to make this technology affordable, wireless and energy efficient, making it accessible for rural health facilities.
Malawi-based, locally owned business Wala also received funding from the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund. Wala’s project will pilot a holistic support solution that will distribute high-quality solar irrigation equipment to smallholder farmers in Malawi. It will also help the farmers access soft loans from local cooperatives for farm inputs and the solar irrigation equipment.
Wala will provide training to ensure farmers are confident in using and maintaining the irrigation system. The organisation will also teach good agricultural practice and new business skills, helping farmers increase their crop yields and increase their income.
Case study #2: Improving energy efficiency in agriculture by harnessing solar power
The Efficiency for Access Design Challenge, delivered with the support of Engineers Without Borders UK, puts students and their universities at the forefront of energy access. Part of the LEIA programme, the Challenge will help to bring modern, reliable energy services to the 800 million people who still have no access to electricity.
To celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February, we interviewed Maanasa Naga Venkatasri Rujusmruthi and Paige Elizabeth Haire, from an all-female Challenge team at London Southbank University.
They have been researching ways to improve energy efficiency in agriculture throughout low- and middle-income countries. They are focusing on a solar-powered grain mill and will design simulation studies to optimise and influence the final design.
What inspired you to take part in the Efficiency for Access Design Challenge?
We wanted to use our engineering skills to create a positive impact in society and make a difference in people’s lives.
What has been the highlight to date?
The webinars we have attended and interacting with likeminded people in the industry.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far?
Trying to find a sustainable solution while ensuring our design is affordable to the local community.
Admiration: eight great women
Here, we’ve chosen eight women we admire for their dedication to tackling the climate emergency – from those working in research and finance to infrastructure and policy. Click on their names below to find out more.
Former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Christiana was appointed executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in July 2010, six months after the failed COP15 in Copenhagen. Over the next six years, she worked to rebuild the global climate change negotiating process, which culminated in the historic Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. She co-authored the book The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis, which explores how we can move beyond the climate crisis into a thriving future.
Member of the Climate Change Committee and chair of the French High Council on Climate
Former director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, Corinne researches the interactions between climate change and the carbon cycle. Her work has contributed to understanding how climate change and variability affects land and ocean carbon sinks, as well as the drivers of carbon emissions. Corinne launched the annual publication of the Global Carbon Budget as part of the Global Carbon Project, a community effort to provide timely delivery of policy-relevant carbon research.
Chair of the Climate Change Committee’s Adaptation Committee and Low Carbon Business Ambassador for the UK
Dame Julia King, Baroness Brown of Cambridge currently serves as chair of the Climate Change Committee’s Adaptation Sub-Committee, is a non-executive director of the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, and a member of the WEF Global Agenda Council on Decarbonising Energy. She is also passionate about ensuring every young person in the UK has an outstanding science education, and chairs STEM Learning, which is committed to supporting science teachers and getting industry and business engaged with STEM in schools.
Secretariat for the Climate Emergency Response Group and director of Existing Homes Alliance Scotland
An independent consultant, Elizabeth currently serves as secretariat for the Climate Emergency Response Group, which aims to inform and influence the Scottish Government’s response to the climate emergency. She has been director of the Existing Homes Alliance for over six years, which campaigns for an ambitious programme of low carbon refurbishment of Scotland’s homes, along with incentives, support and regulations aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions and tackling fuel poverty.
Executive director of the Bank of England and executive sponsor for the bank’s work on climate change
Sarah has oversight of the Bank of England’s work enhancing the financial system’s resilience to climate change. As part of London Climate Action Week 2020, she delivered a speech on how the financial sector can help make climate action a reality. The Bank of England is a co-founder of the Central Banks and Supervisors Network for Greening the Financial System, which aims to enhance the role of the financial system in supporting the transition to a carbon neutral sustainable economy.
CEO of UKGBC and a Commissioner for the London Sustainable Development Commission
Julie has been at the forefront of sustainability in the real estate sector throughout her entire career. In her role as CEO of UKGBC, she works to deliver lasting change within the industry by engaging with members, regulators and wider stakeholders. Julie also sits on the Green Construction Board, the Igloo Footprint Advisory Board, Grimshaw’s Stewardship Group and the Carbon Trust Advisory Panel.
Group carbon manager at Costain, challenging existing business models to guarantee carbon management
Lara is passionate about demystifying the topic of climate change and more specifically carbon management to empower thousands of individuals, businesses and clients to make a positive difference. Her role at Costain encompasses challenging existing business models and processes to guarantee carbon management through to ensuing climate change mitigation and sustainability are designed and integrated into infrastructure at all lifecycle stages.
Future Generations Commissioner for Wales and former Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales
Described by The Guardian as the “world’s first minister of the Unborn”, Sophie’s role as Future Generations Commissioner is to provide advice to the Welsh Government on delivering social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing for current and future generations. Since taking up the post in 2016, she has led high profile interventions around transport planning, education reform and climate change, challenging the government and others to demonstrate how they are taking account of future generations.