Events Archive

This page stores the recordings from our term-time seminar series since 2020.

    • 2021/2022

       

      • Steel Decarbonisation, energy transition & Environmental conflict - Valentin Vogl, Sep 21

        Abstract:

         

         

        Steel is a major contributor to anthropogenic climate change, environmental degradation and environmental injustices, mostly but not exclusively situated in the Global South. At the same time, steel is an incredibly useful material and an essential ingredient in many low-carbon futures, from wind turbines to flood protection to rail infrastructure. Recent years have seen the incumbent ways of making steel destabilised by, among other reasons, increased climate policy pressure. At the same time, several pathways for steel decarbonisation have emerged in industry and academia and are actively being shaped and contested. In the seminar and based on four years of research on the topic, I will present the best available evidence on currently debated transition pathways and how these are represented in current decarbonisation plans of the global steel industry. I will then take a step back to problematise these pathways. In particular, the critique will focus on the nexus of two pressing problems: (a) the potential renewable electricity demand of decarbonised steel production and the implications of its provision, and (2) the re/production of environmental injustices related to all stages of the steel production process, but in particular connected to extractivism and how the steel transition is likely to exacerbate existing conflicts. At the end of the seminar, I will provide my ideas for rapid and socially just decarbonisation strategy and invite the audience to share theirs.

        Biography:

         

        Valentin is a PhD student at the Department of Technology and Society at Lund University, Sweden. His PhD investigates the decarbonisation of the global steel industry. He works with a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods such as policy and discourse analysis, modelling, and techno-economic assessment. Valentin has a BSc and MSc in chemical and process engineering from the University of Graz, Austria. Engagement with non-academic stakeholders forms an important part of his PhD work, such as recently by providing evidence for the Cumbria coal mine public inquiry, coordinating the launch of a global green steel tracker, and contributing to the Green New Deal for Europe.

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      • A socio-technical economic analysis of complex fuel poverty in Northern Ireland - Christopher Lowans, SEP 28

        Abstract:

        Recently it has been postulated in the social sciences that energy and transport poverty, which remain stubborn problems, are in fact linked by a series of causal factors and affect overlapping demographics. Concerns have been raised that decarbonisation may result in merely swapping one set of existing injustices with another. From this hypothesis follows the questions: how do we measure these conditions, and from which viewpoints do we consider them? Beyond this question, the engineering disciplines have also long recognised these issues and worked on their alleviation. The future aims of this work in the engineering sciences are twofold. Firstly, to fill knowledge gaps in the coping behaviours of households as well as the dominant drivers of these conditions on the island of Ireland. Secondly, to examine which future decarbonisation routes provide the most equitable outcomes, and to examine the costs, benefits and trade-offs of these outcomes.

        Biography:

        Chris Lowans is a 2nd year PhD Student at Queen's University Belfast where he is researching engineering solutions to energy and transport poverty. His professional experiences includes time spent at E4tech, a sustainable energy consultancy, and as a transport analyst at the International Energy Agency. He holds a BSc (Hons) in Geophysics from Durham University and an MSc in Sustainable Energy Futures from Imperial College London.

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      • China’s Carbon Neutral Goal: What to Look Out For? - Philip Andrews-Speed, October 5

        Abstract:

        In September 2020, President Xi Jinping took most of us by surprise by announcing that China’s emissions would peak before 2030 rather than just "around" 2030 and that the country would strive to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. A study by Tsinghua University showed, in principle, how carbon dioxide emissions from the energy and industrial sectors could be radically reduced between now and 2050. The ambition to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 raises two sets of questions. First, how will carbon neutrality be measured? The second, which is the focus of the seminar, relates to the outlook for the Tsinghua University’s preferred pathway. The development and scaling-up of the necessary technologies is clearly a prerequisite. In addition, many important factors fall into the broad category of “institutions” and involve the need for coordination of different types: for example, between different policy objectives, different policy instruments and different actors. Despite President Xi’s increasing authority, many coordination problems remain deeply rooted in China’s energy sector, as they do in many countries.

        In the absence of a Five-Year Plan for Energy Development 2021-2025, let alone a Medium- and Long-Term Plan for Energy Development, one cannot make a rigorous assessment of the likelihood of China’s achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. Instead, this seminar will identify challenges facing the central government as it seeks to improve coordination and what to look out for in the coming months and years.

        Biography:

        Philip Andrews-Speed is a Senior Principal Fellow at the Energy Studies Institute, National University of Singapore. He has 40 years in the field of energy and resources, starting his career as a mineral and oil exploration geologist before moving into the field of energy and resource governance. His main research interest has been the political economy of the low-carbon energy transition. China has been a particular focus for his research, but in recent years he has been more deeply engaged with energy challenges in Southeast Asia. He is currently leading a research project on the governance of nuclear safety. His latest book, with Sufang Zhang, is China as a Global Clean Energy Champion: Lifting the Veil (Palgrave, 2019).

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      • Pushing and constraining factors in energy policy-making: explaining the choice for nuclear energy - Duygu Sever, 12 Oct

        Abstract:

        Nuclear energy is one of the most questioned energy resources, for which the striking divide between the opponents and proponents is deeper than in any other energy resource. Heated debates about nuclear energy contain the intricate discussion of a variety of advantages and risks which applies to every country. However, the way these factors are interpreted changes significantly as revealed by states’ divergent nuclear energy policies and increasing interest on nuclear by some developing countries.

        This study focuses on the underlying forces in energy policy-making from the stand point of nuclear. The research investigates the causal mechanisms regarding pushing and constraining factors in nuclear energy policy-making and targets to find out which elements are separately necessary or jointly sufficient to affect a state’s nuclear energy policy. Moreover, the study seeks to answer how the risks and advantages of nuclear are transformed into a state’s decision, by providing a deeper look at socio-political dynamics at the intersection of national and international levels. In order to decipher the complex mechanisms in nuclear energy policy-making, the study presents an analytical comparison of France, Germany and Turkey, with three different nuclear energy stories. The data is collected from the fieldwork conducted in these three cases via semi- structured interviews with high-level experts. The findings are based on a multimethod analysis using MAXQDA.

        By offering an analytical mapping and a policy framework on nuclear energy policy- making, the research aims to contribute the literature on comparative politics, on public policy-making in the realm of energy and on understanding political aspects of low-carbon resources in the wake of global energy transition.

        Biography:

        Dr. S. Duygu Sever works on the intertwined relationship between energy politics, sustainability and human security, with a specific interest on the politics of nuclear energy. She holds a PhD in Political Science and International Relations from Koç University, Turkey.  Until recently, she has worked as a Visiting Researcher at IFRI (Institut Français des Relations Internationales) - Center for Energy in Paris, France.  She also worked for the European Union Horizon 2020 Project, FEUTURE (The Future of EU-Turkey Relations: Mapping Dynamics and Testing Scenarios), in Energy and Climate Drivers. Her research projects address energy transition, sustainable development and policy making, by combining global-national dynamics with climate change, geopolitics and international relations.

        Along with her academic activities and several publications, Duygu has also been a delegate in major platforms including Next Generation Delegates by Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Women in Energy, Young Leaders in Energy Initiative, Likeminds: German-Turkish Junior Expert Initiative (launched by Robert Bosch Stiftung, European Academy of Berlin and Istanbul Policy Center) and Global Relations Forum-Young Academics Program. She has been a recipient of numerous scholarships including Young Visiting Researcher Fellowship by the Embassy of France, Koç University GSSSH Fellowship-Scholarship for Outstanding Success and TÜBİTAK (Technological and Research Council of Turkey) Scholarship. She also teaches interactive seminars for the promotion of Sustainable Development Goals and offers mentorship to encourage young students for engaging in green innovation and entrepreneurship in sustainability.

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      • SEG@COP26 DECARBONISATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS - BENJAMIN K SOVACOOL, Oct 19

        Abstract

        What are the types of injustices associated with low-carbon transitions? In what ways do low-carbon transitions worsen social risks or vulnerabilities? And what policies might be deployed to make these transitions more just?

        Benjamin K Sovacool answers these questions by elaborating an “energy justice” framework consisting of four distinct dimensions—distributive justice (costs and benefits), procedural justice (due process), cosmopolitan justice (global externalities), and recognition justice (vulnerable groups). It then examines four European low-carbon transitions—nuclear power in France, smart meters in Great Britain, electric vehicles in Norway, and solar energy in Germany—through this critical justice lens. In doing so, it draws from original data collected from 64 semi-structured interviews with expert participants as well as five public focus groups and the monitoring of twelve internet forums. It documents 120 distinct energy injustices across these four transitions. It then explores two exceedingly vulnerable groups to European low-carbon transitions, those recycling electronic waste flows in Ghana, and those mining for cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The presentation aims to show how when low-carbon transitions unfold, deeper injustices related to equity, distribution, and fairness invariably arise.

        Biography

        Professor Benjamin K. Sovacool is Professor of Energy Policy at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School in the United Kingdom. There he serves as Director of the Sussex Energy Group. Professor Sovacool works as a researcher and consultant on issues pertaining to global energy policy and politics, energy security, energy justice, climate change mitigation, and climate change adaptation. More specifically, his research focuses on renewable energy and energy efficiency, the politics of large-scale energy infrastructure, designing public policy to improve energy security and access to electricity, the ethics of energy, and building adaptive capacity to the consequences of climate change.

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      • SEG@COP26 Transformative outcomes & a learning game about system change - bipashyee ghosh & imogen wade, Oct 26

        Abstract

        Find out how TIPC mobilises the power of innovation to address United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and how a learning game can explain the complexities of change in complex socio-technical systems. Transformative Innovation Policy is a new framing for innovation policy that supports the race to net zero and towards a sustainability transition for the world.

        The Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC) is a global collaboration between researchers, policymakers and STI funders across countries in the Global South and Global North with an ambition to implement Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP). TIP as a concept has a new rationale of realigning innovation policy with the social and environmental challenges facing the world (Schot and Steinmueller, 2018) through experimental and formative evaluation of policy.

        TIPC has implemented several experimental policy engagements (EPEs) on COP26 related themes together with partners in diverse countries. EPEs are by definition “the diverse ways in which (STI) policy makers engage with processes of societal experimentation for sustainable transformation: initiating, supporting or mobilising, and evaluating such initiatives for informing decision-making, enabling processes of social learning, developing alternative pathways and enacting desirable futures” (Ghosh et al., 2021). EPEs in TIPC that are relevant to COP26 themes include some of the MOTION projects that TIPC is working with Climate-KIC on, such as the ‘System and sustainable Approach to virTuous interaction of Urban and Rural LaNdscapes’ (SATURN) project and ‘ACT on Nature-based Solutions’, as well as projects on waste management in Latin America and water management in the face of scarcity (Living Catchments project in South Africa). Over the past 4 years, TIPC has developed and implemented a novel methodology for monitoring, learning, and experimenting with the new generation of innovation policy in different contexts.

        In this seminar, we will introduce a new framework of policy evaluation developed in TIPC called “transformative outcomes” (Ghosh et al., 2021). The framework comprises twelve outcomes across three macro-processes of transformative change and is aimed at reorienting the actions and initiatives of research councils, science and technology ministries, and innovation agencies through a more systemic and continuous governance approach building on sustainability transitions thinking. While implementing this methodology, we realised the difficulties of understanding and navigating the complexities of change in complex socio-technical systems.

        To mitigate this problem, we have recently developed and tested a new learning game targeted at non-academic professionals. During this presentation, we will share experiences of developing and playtesting this game called “systemic change”. The transformative outcomes methodology and the game as a tool constitute core elements of a “resource pack” that is currently being developed within the central platform of TIPC called the Mobile Transformative Innovation Lab. Working in this lab for the coming year, we aim to consolidate and share all learnings from the past four years of TIPC co-creation work and help make innovation policies more transformative in the future.

        Biography

        Bipashyee Ghosh is a Research Fellow at SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex Business School, UK. She did her PhD from the same institute on urban sustainability transitions in the Global South. Her ongoing research is on Deep Transition Futures and Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium, where she is researching multi-system change, transformations in policies and investment. For more information, follow @bipashyee on Twitter.

        Imogen Wade is a Research Fellow at SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex Business School, UK. Her PhD from UCL was on innovation systems and governance in Russia. She currently works on the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC) and the Deep Transition Futures projects. She is working on a methodology for comparative analysis of the learning and capacity building across TIPC and helping with data and knowledge management strategy. For more information, follow @ImogenWade on Twitter.

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      • cintran - marie claire brisbois & Roberto Cantoni, Nov 2

        Abstract

        The CINTRAN seminar will present early results of the EU Horizon2020 CINTRAN inventory of coping strategies. This inventory records illustrative examples of the ways different actors are coping with the implications of decarbonisation policies, with a focus on carbon intensive regions. Strategies vary based on the actors involved (e.g. national governments, coal companies, oil shale workers), the resources they have available to them (e.g. for compensation, economic redevelopment, retraining of workers), and the national context (i.e. within an early, middle or late energy transition phase). Our analysis provides insight into what strategies emerge in what contexts, how strategies can be employed to facilitate transitions, and which strategies are most useful for advancing decarbonisation.

        Biography

        Marie Claire Brisbois is a Lecturer in Energy Policy at SPRU. She is Co-Director of the Sussex Energy Group and Co-Convenor of the Online Masters in Energy Policy. Her work examines questions of structural power, politics and influence in energy, water and natural resource governance contexts.

        Roberto Cantoni is a research fellow at SPRU, working on EU-funded project CINTRAN (Carbon Intensive Regions in Transition - Unravelling the Challenges of Structural Change. He obtained his PhD (History of Science, Technology and Medicine) from the University of Manchester with a thesis on oil exploration, diplomacy and security in Cold War France and Italy. Following that, he was worked on the sociology of shale gas in France and Poland; on nuclear energy in France and Italy; on solar energy in West Africa. His current, main research focus is on energy justice.

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      • SEG@COP26 Just Transitions: The governance & institutional gap in the UK - abigail martin & Max lacey-Barnacle, Nov 09

        Abstract

        What are the challenges of governance for just transitions? The notion of “just transition” is now a central feature of climate policymaking at various levels transnationally—from the local to the UN climate change negotiations, with nation states being urged to consider this policy issue in national climate policy frameworks since the 2018 Silesia Declaration at COP24. The growing calls for a green recovery from COVID-19 have placed economic inequality and climate justice at the top of the political agenda in many countries, adding pressure to COP26 delegates and policymakers to deliver a ‘just transition’.

        Yet exactly how the concept is defined, imagined and operationalized varies across socio-political and ecological contexts. This presentation reviews some popular and critical definitions of just transition, as well as some of the most prominent organizational and institutional forms designed to govern just transition outcomes. We offer early glimpses of initiatives at multiple levels of political jurisdiction in Europe, the UK, the US and New Zealand, highlighting their approaches to achieving distributional and procedural justice in the transition away from fossil fuels. We also examine some of the challenges arising from such efforts and discuss the multiple social science frameworks available to critically and constructively engage with just transition initiatives.

        Biography

        Abigail Martin is an interdisciplinary social scientist and Research Fellow at SPRU. Her interests lie at the intersection of environmental politics and the governance of energy and agricultural value chains. She is particularly interested in questions concerning political economy and political ecology, including how capitalism shapes and is shaped by struggles over environmental injustices and economic inequality. She has looked at these issues in industrial policy for low-carbon biofuels in the US and Brazil, solar energy policies and energy efficiency programs in California, “green” innovation in global chemical value chains, and most recently the development of shale gas in the UK.

        Max Lacey-Barnacle joined SPRU as a Research Fellow in Energy Justice in February 2020 after completing his PhD at Cardiff University in 2019, focusing on the energy justice implications of energy decentralisation. He currently works closely with Dr Mari Martiskainen on the innovative FAIR project, funded by the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS). FAIR is looking at the overlaps between fuel and transport poverty in the UK’s energy transition and working across all four nations of the UK. From 2021 onwards, he will also be working on the ESRC funded ROLES project, led by Professor Benjamin Sovacool. ROLES will identify how European city-regions can accelerate the decarbonisation of energy systems through the digitalisation of energy infrastructure, in ways that also create societal benefits.

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      • SEG@COP26 Panel discussion, reactions to cop26 outcomes - marie claire brisbois, Lokendra Karki, Ralitsa Hiteva, Phil Johnstone, Nov 16

        Abstract

        A panel of Sussex Energy Group researchers discuss the outcomes of COP26, the debates that have come up throughout this seminar series, and what bearing the latest from the climate negotiations may have on their research interests.

        Biography

        Marie Claire Brisbois is a Senior Lecturer in Energy Policy at SPRU and co-director of the Sussex Energy Group. Her work examines questions of structural power, politics and influence in energy, water and natural resource governance contexts.

        Ralitsa Hiteva is a Senior Research Fellow specialising in infrastructure governance and regulation. Ralitsa works on changes to business models for infrastructure provision due to pressures such as cross–sector integrations and low carbon transitions; and the complex governance arrangements across scales and multi-scale systems strategic infrastructure decision-making.

        Lokendra Karki is a Research Fellow at SPRU. His current research focuses on the understanding role of agriculture, forestry and other land-use (AFOLU) sector in climate change mitigation, and explores different land-use based technologies for co-delivering reduced emissions, sustainable production and improved well-being. He has more than ten years of work experience in developing, leading and implementing projects for small farmers in the field of appropriate agricultural technology diffusion and adaptation to climate change.

        Phil Johnstone is a Senior Research Fellow with a background in Human Geography and Science and Technology Studies interested in energy policy, the political and democratic implications of technological development, understanding the role and nature of the state in the 21st century, and developing more spatial understandings of Science & Technology policy. Before joining SPRU he completed a PhD on Public Engagement with Nuclear Power in the UK at the University of Exeter.

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      • Deployment Rates and Aggregation: the missing components of climate policy? - Julian Allwood, Nov 23

        Abstract

        A characteristic of much of the analysis supporting current climate policy is that it involves back-casting from a notional future: based on an anticipated, and inviolable, forecast of demand at a future date, typically 2050, what is the “best” supply system required by then, and therefore what rates of transition are required. However, a realistic assessment of the speed at which deployment occurs suggests that many of the target end-points can no longer be delivered - it’s too late. For example, in the UK, it is very unlikely that we will have any significant deployment of CCS or negative emissions technologies by 2035, yet by that date the government has committed that our emissions including international aviation and shipping will be 62% lower than today. An alternative approach to climate policy is therefore to anticipate likely future supply, in order to begin a transition to reduced demand. This is a surprising gap in climate policy: every year since the reference date of the climate change act (1990), the cars sold in the UK have become heavier, to the point that they now weigh more than 12 times the average weight of people inside them. This talk will attempt to motivate a search for different climate policy solutions, avoiding the binary distinction between “techno-optimism” and “behaviour change” to look for different ways to live well with today’s technologies.

        Biography

        Julian Allwood is Professor of Engineering and the Environment at the University of Cambridge. He worked for 10 years for Alcoa on flat rolling, before academic positions at Imperial College and Cambridge. His research group develops new manufacturing technologies for metals and strategies to mitigate climate change. From 2009-13 he held an EPSRC Leadership Fellowship, to explore Material Efficiency as a climate mitigation strategy – delivering material services with less new material. This led to publication in 2012 of the book “Sustainable Materials: with both eyes open” which can be read online at www.withbotheyesopen.com and was listed by Bill Gates as “one of the best six books I read in 2015.”

        Julian was a Lead Author of the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) with a focus on mitigating industrial emissions. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Materials, Minerals and Mining, a Fellow of the International Academy of Production Engineering (CIRP) and served as chairman of its metal forming section, a member of the UK’s Energy Research Partnership and for ten years was joint editor-in-chief of the Journal of Materials Processing Technology. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2017.

        From 2019-24 he is director of UK FIRES – a £5m industry and multi-university programme aiming to explore all aspects of Industrial Strategy compatible with delivering zero emissions by 2050. ‘Absolute Zero’, the first publication of UK FIRES attracted widespread attention including a full debate in the House of Lords in Feb 2020, and has led to a string of other reports, research and impact.

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      • 2020/2021

         

        • Decarbonisation and its discontents: A critical justice perspective on four low-carbon transitions - Benjamin K Sovacool, SEP 29

          Abstract:

          What are the types of injustices associated with low-carbon transitions? Relatedly, in what ways do low-carbon transitions worsen social risks or vulnerabilities? Lastly, what policies might be deployed to make these transitions more just? The presentation answers these questions by first elaborating an “energy justice” framework consisting of four distinct dimensions—distributive justice (costs and benefits), procedural justice (due process), cosmopolitan justice (global externalities), and recognition justice (vulnerable groups). It then examines four European low-carbon transitions—nuclear power in France, smart meters in Great Britain, electric vehicles in Norway, and solar energy in Germany—through this critical justice lens. In doing so, it draws from original data collected from 64 semi-structured interviews with expert participants as well as five public focus groups and the monitoring of twelve internet forums.  It documents 120 distinct energy injustices across these four transitions. It then explores two exceedingly vulnerable groups to European low-carbon transitions, those recycling electronic waste flows in Ghana, and those mining for cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The presentation aims to show how when low-carbon transitions unfold, deeper injustices related to equity, distribution, and fairness invariably arise.

          Biography:

          Prof. Benjamin K. Sovacool is Professor of Energy Policy at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School in the United Kingdom. There he serves as Director of the Sussex Energy Group. Professor Sovacool works as a researcher and consultant on issues pertaining to global energy policy and politics, energy security, energy justice, climate change mitigation, and climate change adaptation. More specifically, his research focuses on renewable energy and energy efficiency, the politics of large-scale energy infrastructure, designing public policy to improve energy security and access to electricity, the ethics of energy, and building adaptive capacity to the consequences of climate change.

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        • Unattainable proximity. A case study of solar power in central Burkina Faso - Roberto Cantoni, October 6

          Abstract:

          In the village of Zagtouli, 12 km west of Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, lies West Africa’s largest solar power plant. Yet, most citizens of Zagtouli cannot enjoy the benefits of electricity. This condition - known as 'living under-the-grid' - makes Zagtouli a reference case of energy injustice related to the development of renewable sources. This seminar analyses Faso’s recent energy policies and reflects on the paradox on 'unattainable proximity'. It analyses this condition through the energy justice lens. This research is based on an ethnographic case study conducted in Zagtouli in early 2019. He aims to investigate the following research question: What kind of energy policy informed the Faso’s government in designing the Zagtouli plant, and in what ways were aspects of distributional, procedural, and recognition justice taken into account when designing the plant?

          Biography:

          Roberto is a post-doctoral researcher at SPRU, where he is part of the CINTRAN consortium. He obtained a PhD in History of Science and Technology from the University of Manchester and has worked in the field of energy humanities since (on oil, shale gas, nuclear energy, renewables, and now coal). He is the author of Oil Exploration, Diplomacy, and Security in the Early Cold War (Routledge, 2017).

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        • Future Cities: How London is seeking to develop the infrastructure of tomorrow? - Alex Gilbert, 13 Oct

          Abstract:

          TfL is seeking to transform London’s infrastructure over the coming decades; building Homes, Energy Generation, New Transport and plenty more. They want to effect the world’s first truly smart and sustainable metropolis; affecting how people live, work, move and interact. It is firmly their intention to build ‘Integrated, Innovative Infrastructure’ – a future-proofed, connected, dynamic environment.  As one example, this talk will address Energy. As London’s largest user, with a target of making TfL-controlled rail services zero carbon by 2030, how are they: integrating renewables and energy efficiency; capturing waste heat from the Underground; and electrifying transport.

          Biography:

          Alex acts as an independent investor, advisor and consultant on topics relating to ‘Green Infrastructure’, with his six primary specialisms being:

          ‘Energy Transformation’ and ‘Clean Growth’;

          • Financing smart, low carbon, sustainable cities;
          • Energy efficiency and the ESCo market;
          • Regeneration and sustainable property solutions;
          • New energy services business models and investment drivers;
          • ‘Clean Tech’ solutions, including: electric vehicles; heat & power; battery storage; and the ‘circular economy’.

          He has worked in sustainable investment throughout his career; primarily responsible for sourcing, financing and delivering green infrastructure opportunities. Alex is presently working with developers, financiers and governments (local, regional and national) to support their future sustainable infrastructure. Most significantly, he is curating, commercialising and delivering the energy projects that will assist in the transformation of TfL; London’s largest and most high-profile energy user.

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        • The distribution of carbon emissions and its relevance for policy - Diana Ivanova, Oct 20

          Abstract

          This seminar offers insights about the levels and inequality of carbon emissions in Europe and worldwide. It highlights the top emitters and offers perspectives on global socio-economic trends with influence on carbon emissions, such as shrinking household sizes and rising incomes. The seminar discusses carbon targets and implications for energy and climate policy.

          Biography

          Dr Diana Ivanova is a Research fellow at the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds. As a part of the CREDS team, Diana’s work focuses on the environmental impacts embodied in consumption, and the supply chain and consumption changes needed to achieve sustainable living. Her work on the ShaRe project (Sharing Resources for mitigating carbon emissions and other environmental impacts) aims to better understand the ways in which greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts are embedded in broader socio-cultural trends, particularly changes in household dynamics and resource sharing. Diana has a background in industrial ecology and economics.

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        • Eco-communities as insurgent climate urbanism: Radical urban socio-material transformations - Jenny Pickerill, Oct 27

          Abstract

          Eco-communities are permanent interventions to build and reshape the urban, a form of insurgent urbanism. Using examples from already-existing urban eco-communities the ways such projects demonstrate lasting material, social and economic transformations are illustrated through three examples of; generating affordability, designing for frequent social interaction, and repurposing marginalised public urban spaces. However, for many eco-communities there are often gaps between their imagined politics and their realisation. Racial exclusion and class exclusivity, along with contradictions encountered in property ownership and affordability, requires ongoing critical interrogation of seemingly radical versions of climate urbanism, lest they too contribute to the entrenchment rather than amelioration of inequalities in the contemporary urban.

          Biography

          Jenny Pickerill is a Professor of Environmental Geography and Head of Department of Geography at Sheffield University, England. Her research focuses on inspiring grassroots solutions to environmental problems and in hopeful and positive ways in which we can change social practices. She has published 3 books (Cyberprotest; Anti-war Activism; Eco-Homes) and over 30 articles on themes around eco-housing, eco-communities, social justice and environmentalism. She is currently completing a book on Eco-communities: Living Together Differently.

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        • Carbon Pricing Distributional Impacts - Joshua Burke, Nov 3

          Abstract

          The presentation will look at the economic policy levers needed to meet Net Zero emissions in the UK. The particular focus will be on the role of carbon pricing and complimentary policies in addressing multiple market failures, the complex mix of carbon price signals in the UK and the ongoing discussions around post Brexit carbon pricing. Reflections from Josh’s recent research will include how to price carbon to reach net zero, why moving away from conventional approaches that encourage uniform, economy wide prices is sensible, how to manage undesirable distributional impacts and how equity should be at the heart of carbon pricing policy reforms.

          Biography

          Josh is a Policy Fellow in the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment where he leads the policy analysis team on UK climate & energy policy. Prior to joining the Grantham Institute, Josh was a Senior Research Fellow at Policy Exchange where he led the Energy and Environment department. He was responsible for designing, leading and delivering existing and new research projects focused on energy and environmental policies which respond to the most important questions the UK faces, as well as writing articles, organising events, and talking to policymakers, experts and opinion formers from government, academia, NGOs, Parliament and business. Before this he worked as a Project Manager in an AiM listed renewable energy project developer focussing on distributed generation. His professional experience also includes work in the public policy sphere at both Chatham House and The Overseas Development Institute. He has a BSc in Geography from the University of Nottingham, and an MSc in Environmental Technology from Imperial College London.

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        • Borrowing, Energy Demand and COVID: Things on Wheels - Rali Hiteva and Tim Foxon, Nov 10

          Abstract

          The seminar presents ongoing CREDS research investigating the community model of borrowing practiced by Library of Things in Crystal Palace (London); the links and impacts of borrowing on energy demand; and borrowing during COVID, through a no touch service called Things on Wheels. The presentation brings together findings from a large survey carried out with borrowers about the motivations for borrowing through Things on Wheels; interviews and observations from the Things in Wheels trial, and reflects on the methodologies of observation and shadowing through digital and mixed (digital-face-to-face) encounters with Jazzy, Brigitte and Diana (a jigsaw, a pressure washer and a carpet cleaner).

          Biography

          Dr Ralitsa Hiteva is a Research Fellow in Digital Platforms, Services and Business Models and an Engagement Lead at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex. Ralitsa’s research expertise includes digital transformation for infrastructure services, including new business models and environmental change and governance. She is a member of the Digital Society Theme at the UK Centre for Research on Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) where she is investigating the energy impact of digital platforms on sharing economies. Ralitsa is a Rising Star Fellow at the British Academy with special focus on public engagement with infrastructure services. She is a member of the Sussex Energy Group and a of the Brighton and Hove Energy Plan working group.

          Prof. Tim Foxon is Professor of Sustainability Transitions at SPRU and a co-lead of the Digital Society theme of CREDS, where he is leading research on future impacts of ICTs on energy consumption and energy productivity, and use of ICTs for new energy service business models. His research explores technological and social factors relating to the innovation of new energy technologies, the co-evolution of technologies and institutions for a transition to a sustainable low carbon economy, and relations and interdependencies between energy use and economic growth.

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        • Users' and experts' perspectives of smart homes; policies, challenges and benefits - Dylan Furszyfer Del Rio, Nov 17

          Abstract

          This presentation, based on a mixed method approach that includes expert interviews, a national representative survey and three focus groups in the UK, seeks to answer the following questions:  How are smart home technologies conceived and defined? What applications do they have? What are their biggest benefits and their biggest barriers? Who are the smart homes users?  And what policies could accelerate their uptake? In addition, this seminar explores the consequences of the deployment of such technologies.  In this area, although a strong emphasis is placed on consumers’ protection, this presentation also explores how smart home technologies could help meeting urgent carbon mitigation priorities or alternatively, in their adoption, induce energy rebound effects and/or an increment in energy and material use. Finally, this presentation will cover the gender dynamics of smart homes, particularly looking at smart homes as enabler or deterrent of domestic abuse.

          Biography

          Dylan is a research fellow at SPRU working on smart, industrial, and household energy systems in Mexico, Northern Ireland, and the United Arab Emirates. Dylan holds an MSc in Environmental Technology from Imperial College London - Centre for Environmental Policy- and a PhD in Environmental Policy from the same institution, where he examined technology adoption and household energy behaviours. Prior to beginning his PhD, Dylan worked at CFE (the state provider of electricity in Mexico) where he collaborated in developing and conducting research for the sustainable development agenda. Right after finishing his BA in international relations, Dylan worked with the Association of Volunteers in the International Service (AVCI) to improve education systems in the poorest communities in the south of Mexico.

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        • Constructing an offshore wind industry: institutional entrepreneurship in action - Oscar Fitch Roy, Dec 1

          Abstract

          Building an offshore wind farm is a monumental task. The engineering challenge of putting hundreds of state-of-the-art electricity generators, each weighing hundreds of tonnes, more than a hundred metres above the surface of a stormy sea, is almost too great to comprehend. Nevertheless, maritime countries, including the UK, are betting on the accelerated rollout of these mega-projects to decarbonise their electricity systems.

          But, awesome as the technical difficulties are, creating the conditions in which an industry can grow is no less challenging. An offshore wind industry does not emerge by accident. It must be made by reshaping and augmenting the tangled knot of pre-existing institutions that govern the protection of the marine environment, the electricity market, transmission system, supply-chain, skills, standards, and so on.

          Through this complexity, a pathway must be hewn, along which investors can see legal and financial certainty, and competing interests can be reconciled. Altogether, a high degree of technical, commercial, legal, administrative and political coordination is required. Given the broad scope of the task and the degree of institutional innovation implied, important questions arise about who does this work, and how.

          This talk presents the rationale for and the approach taken by the ESRC-funded ExOE project, which aims to examine the role played by ‘institutional entrepreneurs’ in making or breaking national offshore wind ambition.

          Biography

          Oscar Fitch-Roy is a research fellow at the University of Exeter. He teaches and researches the social, organisational and political issues associated with energy system transformation. In particular he is interested in the role that interest groups and other civil society actors play in discussing and shaping energy policy and governance. Much of his recent work focusses on EU policy making. He is co-editor (with Caroline Kuzemko at Warwick) of the Palgrave Progressive Energy Policy (PEP) book series.

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        • Energise: An intervention in Energy Consuming Household Practices - And how it Might Scale Up, Eva Heiskanen, Dec 8

          Abstract

          Eva will tell the story of a European project that attempted to intervene in energy consuming practices in the home: the ENERGISE project. ENERGISE involved 306 households from eight countries in experimenting with alternative practices of laundering and thermal comfort for a period of four weeks each. On the basis of the findings from another study of other similar initiatives, she will also consider how such interventions might gain traction beyond their original sphere of influence to make an impact of wider, collectively shared practices related to energy use. On this basis, she invites all of us to try to think about how our research and public engagement could make a difference on a larger scale.

          Biography

          Eva Heiskanen is Professor at the University of Helsinki Consumer Society Research Centre and a member of the Expert Panel on Sustainable Development. She is in charge of a project that focuses on learning from renewable energy pilots and trials at the Smart Energy Transition project funded by the Strategic Research Council.

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        • Effects of the EU’s European Green Deal on the Turkish Economy - Ahmet Atıl Aşıcı, Jan 19

          Abstract

          In December 2019, the EU announced the European Green Deal (EGD) whose ultimate target is to create a climate-neutral continent by 2050. With the EGD, greenhouse gases (GHGs) reduction targets become more ambitious and the EU industry will be reorganized around the circular economy principles. Accordingly, the EU Emission Trading System (ETS) will be revised to keep economic growth and employment strong against possible losses in competitiveness due to potential increases in the price of carbon under ETS, leading to the problem of “carbon leakage”. Border Carbon Adjustment (BCA) is one of the alternative mechanisms proposed to tackle the carbon leakage problem. BCA is an import fee levied by the carbon-taxing region (in this case, the EU) on goods manufactured in non-carbon-taxing countries (in this case, Turkey).

          The purpose of this paper is to provide a first-order estimate of the potential sectoral impacts of a BCA on the Turkish economy by employing the Input-Output methodology. Our results suggest that the BCA may bring a carbon bill of 1.1-1.8 billion euros to the Turkish exporters in the EU market.

          The revision of the INDC target and the ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement at the parliament are two steps that can be taken immediately. Speeding up the ongoing preparatory process of instituting an emission trading system in Turkey (preferably linked to EU ETS), will help minimize economic losses.

          Biography

          Ahmet Atıl Aşıcı is working as an associate professor of economics at Istanbul Technical University, Department of Management Engineering since 2009. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, in 2007. While pursuing his Ph.D. studies, he worked as an economic officer at UNCTAD between 2005 and 2006. Aşıcı received his MA degree in economics from Bosphorus University in 1999 and his BS degree in management engineering from Istanbul Technical University in 1996. During the 2017/2018 academic year, he spent a year researching at the University of Oregon, USA. 

          His current research concentrates on the green economic transformation. Aşıcı has published extensively on the relationship between economic growth and environmental sustainability and subjective well-being in respected academic journals. Aşıcı is currently working on a project titled “The Green New Deal for Turkey to tackle the climate crisis” as a 2020-2021 IPC-Mercator Climate Change Fellow.

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        • Environmental and technoeconomic optimisation of natural gas supply chain GHG emissions mitigation - Anna Korre, Jan 26

          Abstract

          Increasing world energy demand and environmental concerns are expected to increase Natural Gas (NG) consumption in the coming decades. Often referred to as a ‘bridge fuel’, NG is expected to support the world’s energy mix during the transition towards a more decarbonised energy system. This is partly true because NG emits less CO2 during combustion when compared to other fossil fuels, but also because it is readily available and affordable. However, increased use of natural gas has also highlighted environmental concerns, especially those related to leaked methane throughout the natural gas supply chain, which may offset the combustion benefits of natural gas, given that methane has a greater impact on climate change than CO2.

          The seminar will present the life cycle assessment methodologies and tools developed at Imperial College to assess CO2 and CH4 emissions across a large range of industry value chains from around the world covering production, transport and use of natural gas in power generation with/without CO2 capture and storage. The environmental performance and economics of emissions abatement options available will be examined considering engineering system specifics. Regional opportunities for GHG emissions reduction and cost minimisation in offshore upstream NG value chains will be compared using optimisation methods. Our work has proven that, policy makers should consider that imported NG may arrive at market with embodied GHG footprints varying by more than 50%. Moreover, to effectively identify which NG value chains or regions offer comparatively lower GHG footprints, it is necessary to perform value chain specific LCA studies, using real operational data at a unit process granularity.

          Biography

          Professor Anna Korre is Co-Director of Energy Futures Lab and Professor of Environmental Engineering at Imperial College London. Her research focus is in the areas of modelling risk and uncertainty and the environmental and life cycle assessment of engineering systems.

          She has led and participated in numerous industry, UKRI, BEIS, The Crown Estate and EU funded projects developing engineering tools to assess the impacts of the minerals and energy industries in terms of operational performance, environmental footprint and cost.

        • Diversifying Power: Why We Need Antiracist, Feminist Leadership on Climate and Energy - Jennie Stephens, Feb 2

          Abstract

          The climate crisis is a crisis of leadership. For too long too many leaders have prioritized corporate profits over the public good, exacerbating climate vulnerabilities while reinforcing economic and racial injustice. Transformation to a just, sustainable renewable-based society requires leaders who connect social justice to climate and energy.

          During the Trump era, connections among white supremacy, environmental destruction, and fossil fuel dependence have become more conspicuous. Many of the same leadership deficiencies that shaped the inadequate response in the United States to the coronavirus pandemic have also thwarted the US response to the climate crisis. The inadequate and ineffective framing of climate change as a narrow, isolated, discrete problem to be “solved” by technical solutions is failing. The dominance of technocratic, white, male perspectives on climate and energy has inhibited investments in social change and social innovations. With new leadership and diverse voices, we can strengthen climate resilience, reduce racial and economic inequities, and promote social justice.

          In Diversifying Power, energy expert Jennie Stephens argues that the key to effectively addressing the climate crisis is diversifying leadership so that antiracist, feminist priorities are central.  All politics is now climate politics, so all policies, from housing to health, now have to integrate climate resilience and renewable energy.

          Biography

          Jennie C. Stephens’ research, teaching, and community engagement focus on social-political aspects of renewable energy transformation, energy democracy, climate resilience, reducing fossil-fuel reliance, gender diversity in energy and climate, and social, economic and racial justice in climate and energy policy. Before coming to Northeastern, she taught at University of Vermont, Clark University, Tufts and MIT.

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        • Rescaling energy – do places matter for net zero energy systems? - Jessica Britton, Feb 9

          Abstract

          In the UK over two thirds of local authorities have declared a climate emergency, often committing to more ambitious decarbonisation targets than the national government. At the same time ongoing shifts towards smarter, more flexible, and decentralised energy systems are creating new spaces for local energy governance. In the UK this has been recognised through a shift towards place-based approaches to energy system innovation with significant funding being allocated to test local energy business models. Against this backdrop this presentation will trace the development of ‘local energy’ discourses in the UK and reflect on the agenda’s significance for polycentric governance.

          Biography

          Jess Britton is a Research Fellow in the Energy Policy Group at the University of Exeter working on the local governance needs for smart, flexible energy systems. Jess’ research is focussed on understanding of the role of decentralised actors in energy transitions and how this relates to local, regional and national governance structures. She is currently an ESRC post-doctoral fellow and previously worked on the EPSRC project IGov (Innovation and Governance for future energy systems).

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        • Lancaster West Housing Estate - Green Recovery from the Grenfell Tragedy - Hannah Smith, Feb 16

          Abstract

          Following the Grenfell Tower Fire in June 2017, there was a clear recognition of the need to make real improvements to the Lancaster West Estate and the need to have residents lead on that process. Kensington and Chelsea Council and residents are now working together to codesign a major refurbishment of the estate, that will transform Lancaster West into a model 21st century housing estate.

          Included in this commitment is an ambition for the estate to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, and a belief that the recovery from the Grenfell Tragedy can and should be a green recovery.

          In this seminar, Lancaster West’s Sustainability Project Manager will give an overview of the sustainability strategy for the estate and some of their key projects, including a fabric-first refurbishment, the development of a low-carbon heat network, and creation of new gardens and green spaces.

          Biography

          After graduating from Oxford University in 2018, Hannah begun her career on the Local Government Association’s National Graduate Development Programme, working in diverse service areas including Children’s Services and Covid-19 recovery, always with a keen interest in sustainability and the environment. That is now central in her role as a Sustainability Project Manager for the Lancaster West Neighbourhood Team, where she is responsible for the estate’s sustainability strategy and delivering a range of projects to help make the estate carbon neutral by 2030. 

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        • Taking stock from ESG practices in Asia: missions, innovations and compliance - Lindsay Mai, Feb 23

          Abstract:

          Since 2015, stock exchanges in Hong Kong and Singapore have been tightening requirements on companies listed in either markets to conduct compulsory disclosure on their environmental, social and governance (ESG) performances, which include areas such as carbon assessment, undertakings of company boards, and labour practices. These regulatory changes should generate regional impacts with the listed companies’ operational footprint across Greater China and ASEAN. The seminar introduces development of consultancy projects and knowledge-sharing initiatives to support firm-level transformation in ESG practices. It also reflects upon the interim process and outcomes of co-producing sustainability transitions, specifically to what extent it represents business-as-usual compliance practices or mission-oriented shifts in business models.

          Biography:

          Lindsay is a Research Fellow at SPRU working on governing sustainability transitions with energy-mobility system innovations, multi-level policy mixes, and actor networks. Before joining SPRU, she managed sustainability consultancy projects and worked with over 40 companies based in Asia on various ESG initiatives across multiple industries such as energy, infrastructure, property development and construction. Lindsay holds a PhD in Public Policy from City University of Hong Kong. She is a member of the Sussex Energy Group and a work package lead on EMPOCI project.

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        • Writing Climate - Kim Lasky, March 2

          Abstract

          'A new metaphor is as useful in the climate fight right now as a new solar panel design.'

          Do you agree with Bill McKibben?

          The language around climate change can be extreme, as extreme as the climate emergency itself: crisis, breakdown, mass extinction - extreme language for extreme weather. McKibben is following a long-standing trend in naming climate in the context of fight, battle, struggle, reminding us how infectious metaphor can be.

          As writers come together with researchers and scientists to address these issues, I'm interested in the role fiction and poetry can play in positively disseminating climate research. As Ursula K. Le Guin said in 2014, 'I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now… Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.'

          Rather than a presentation of findings, this session will open up a chance to explore these issues together. I'd like to hear your views and experiences on the communication of energy research, hear what you think is needed right now in climate dialogue, and consider how writers and researchers might work together to share ideas in creative cross-pollination. Let's think about how creative methods might be used to engage communities, policy makers and stakeholders, bearing in mind that language is tricky, and always at least half someone else's…

          Biography

          Kim Lasky is an Associate Researcher in the School of Global Studies. She works with MSc and doctoral students, and with academic staff across disciplines, to explore how creative writing techniques can bring vitality and force to academic work. Her poetry collections, Petrol, Cyan, Electric, Eclipse, and what it means to fall, explore science themes and her poems have appeared in journals including Agenda and Resurgence, as well as in Planet in Peril, an anthology about which Bill McKibben said, 'We need poets engaged in this battle, and this volume is proof that in fact they're in the vanguard!' Find out more at www.kimlasky.com

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        • Incumbency and hydrogen for heating - Richard Lowes, Mar 9

          Abstract

          The UK faces a total transformation of its heat and buildings system. Or does it? If you listen to the gas industry, switching the UK’s gas system over to run on hydrogen rather than natural gas represents a cheap, sustainable, easy and consumer-friendly option. Yet what does this entail in practice? And is it really any better than the alternatives? This presentation will demonstrate the power and activity of the gas lobby around ‘green gases’ and will show that while hydrogen may be advantageous in some ways, its uncertainty means that relying on known technologies (heat pumps, energy efficiency, heat networks) is the only solution to the climate emergency in the short term.

          Biography

          Richard has worked on heat decarbonisation issues for almost a decade, initially working for gas transporter SGN on future of heat issues, before moving to the University of Exeter in 2014 where he has completed a PhD and a number of research projects. His expertise is around the policy and governance needed to achieve a sustainable heat system. His research has considered lobbying associated with heat policy, the changing roles for businesses in the heat transition (and their responses), perceptions of policy makers to heat decarbonisation and the performance of heat policy measures including the Renewable Heat Incentive. He also advises businesses and charities including WWF and the Regulatory Assistance Project around heat decarbonisation issues. He is also a non-executive member of the Scottish Government’s heat decarbonisation strategic policy board. Richard also lectures on geography and sustainable development issues.

          Richard has been a researching member of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) since 2016. Richard tweets about sustainable heat issues @heatpolicyrich. When not thinking about heat, Richard enjoys an active life in Cornwall.

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        • Off-Grid Solar Expansion in Africa: New Technologies, Old Dependencies? - Ben Radley, Mar 16

          Abstract

          Africa’s off-grid solar market is growing rapidly. What development prospects does this hold for the countries and individuals benefiting from expanded access? This paper presents findings from a critical literature review of 171 papers investigating the effects of expanded access to off-grid solar in the global South on economic development. The overwhelming majority of papers point to positive developmental outcomes, observed primarily through increased household income and savings. Through a theoretical reframing of how economic development is generally understood by the literature, the paper argues for caution when interpreting the significance of these findings, and contends that future research would benefit from a heightened appreciation of the tensions and risks associated with this rapidly growing sector, and the possibility that its developmental effects will not rest on the expanded energy access it generates per se, but rather the broader institutional political economy framework within which this expansion takes place.

          Biography

          Ben Radley is a Lecturer in International Development at the Department of Social & Policy Sciences of the University of Bath. His research centres on the political economy of the extractive industries and renewable energy transitions, with a regional focus on Central Africa. Ben has been involved in international development for 15 years, including ten years living and working in Kenya, Burundi and the DR Congo. During this time, he has worked with and advised various ministries, multilateral agencies and NGOs, including the EU, the OECD, the ILO, DFID, GIZ, USAID and Oxfam.

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        • Exploring how fossil fuel incumbents seek to block the low-carbon energy transition - Dario Kenner, Mar 23

          Abstract

          As the take up of low-carbon technologies grows why are fossil fuels still the backbone of most economies? As the body of research on green innovation challenging incumbency grows so does interest in how influential incumbents are able to slow down low-carbon energy transitions. This is often a question of power, hence the importance of increasing our understanding of the strategies that diverse incumbents use to consolidate the fossil fuel status quo and undermine green alternatives. This talk will also focus in on the personal dimension of incumbency by assessing the influence of the Polluter Elite (wealthy individuals running polluting companies).

          Biography

          Dario Kenner is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Sussex (School of Global Studies). He is the author of Carbon Inequality: The Role of the Richest in Climate Change (Routledge, 2019). His current research focuses on the strategies employed by large oil and gas companies to block the low-carbon energy transition.

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        • The challenge of decoupling energy use from GDP: implications for meeting the Paris Agreement targets - Paul Brockway, Apr 20

          Abstract

          To meet our Paris / climate change targets, energy models assume a key role for energy efficiency to reduce energy use, in combination with a huge deployment of renewables. But is this blind faith in energy efficiency merited? I examine historical global trends, and find there has been no global historical absolute energy-GDP decoupling, and yet this is a key assumption in the models. So, what is causing the disconnect between past and future assumed energy-GDP trends? I explore the evidence for large economy-wide rebound as a plausible explanation, and find compelling support for this hypothesis. It also confirms an underrecognised role for energy efficiency in enabling economic growth. So what can we do? I close by considering what we can do in response, covering modelling and policy actions.

          Biography

          Dr Paul Brockway is a University Academic Fellow in Energy and Economics at the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds, UK. He has a 5 year research fellowship on the topic ‘Applying thermodynamic laws to the energy-GDP decoupling problem’, where he applies an Exergy Economics approach to study thermodynamic energy conversion within energy-economy modelling frameworks.

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        • Power Shift: The Global Political Economy of Energy Transitions - Peter Newell, Apr 27

          Abstract

          In this talk I will draw on some of the insights from my new book Power Shift which seeks to understand the urgently needed transition in energy systems from the perspective of global political economy. It develops a more historical, global, political and ecological account of key features of energy transitions: from their production and financing, to how they are governed and mobilised around. This is applied to contemporary and historical examples of energy transitions from around the world. As well as changes to technology, markets, institutions and behaviours, Power Shift shows that shifts in power relations between and within countries and across social groups and political actors are required if the world is to move onto a more sustainable path. 

          Biography

          Peter Newell is a Professor of International Relations at the University of Sussex and co-founder and research director of the Rapid Transition Alliance.  He has undertaken research, advocacy and consultancy work on different aspects of climate change for over 25 years and on energy transitions for the last 10 years. He sits on the board of directors of Greenpeace UK and is a board member of the advisory board of the Greenhouse think-tank. His single and co-authored books include Climate for Change; Governing Climate Change; Climate Capitalism; Transnational Climate Change Governance and Global Green Politics.

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        • The Future of Wind Power: Scaling-up a global industry to power the race to Net Zero - Ben Backwell, May 4

          Abstract

          Ben Backwell, the CEO of the Global Wind Energy Council, will examine the pivotal role of wind technology in decarbonising the power system, looking at the rapid growth of the sector from a niche technology to a global industry which delivered 93GW of new generation capacity in 2020. To play the role envisioned by international organisations such as IRENA and the IEA to help the world stay within a 1.5 degree global heating scenario, the wind industry will have to increase total installed capacity to as much as 8TW by 2050, requiring a rapid scaling up of deployment to around triple the current annual levels. Backwell will look at the latest developments in technology and investment enabling continuing increases in wind power’s scale and efficiency, while identifying the main challenges and barriers to achieving the industry’s potential over the coming decades.

          Biography

          Ben Backwell is a leading commentator and strategist in the renewable energy sector. Prior to joining GWEC, he was a Managing Director at FTI Consulting, one of the world’s largest advisory firms, advising companies in the clean energy sector on strategy, communications, and government affairs, including work on a number of major M&A transactions.

          Previously, Ben worked as a journalist and analyst for 20 years, covering energy policy and markets around the world. He helped design the SolutionWind campaign for the European Wind Energy Association (now WindEurope) ahead of COP21 in 2015, before joining FTI Consulting. He has taken part in the work of a number of industry organizations, including the board of GWEC, the IRENA Business and Investor Group, the IEA’s Renewable Energy Industry Advisory Board, Solar Power Europe, and others. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at international conferences.

          Ben is the author of two books on the wind industry as well as a number of reports and white papers on power markets and policy frameworks. His book Wind Power, the struggle for control of a new global industry,” (Routledge 2015, 2nd Revised Edition 2017) has been described as the “definitive” story of the global wind industry.

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      • 2019/2020

         

        • IF 2020 IS THE CLIMATE MOVEMENT’S “SUPER YEAR” HOW ARE WE FACING THE CHALLENGE? ALICE BELL - MARCH 17

          Abstract

          This is a big year for climate action, especially in the UK. There’s a bumper set of UN climate talks due, and climate change is “coming home” inasmuch as, for the first time, these talks will be hosted by the UK, the birthplace of the industrial revolution. Moreover, concern about climate change is rising high, with new social movements and new turns of phrase emerging in the last 18 months (Extinction Rebellion, the youth strikers, “flight shame” “climate crisis”). We’ve been here before though; interest in climate change seems to bubble up every decade or so with increasing intensity and has done since the 1950s (since the 1850s, even). What, then, are the particular challenges and opportunities the climate movement faces in 2020, and how can we build commitment to climate action that lasts? Alice Bell will discuss some of the key issues facing climate NGOs at this crucial time and outline some of the projects her organisation, Possible, have developed to meet this challenge.

          Biography

          Dr Alice Bell is a writer and campaigner, specialising in the politics of science, technology and the environment. She co-leads the climate change charity Possible (formally 10:10 Climate Action) working on everything from tree-planting days to community-owned solar powered railways. As an academic, Alice worked at the Science Communication Group, Imperial College, the Science Policy Research Unit, Sussex, UCL’s Department of Science and Technology Studies, and City University’s Journalism School. Her writing has appeared in the Times, Observer, Independent and New Scientist, amongst others. She produced a long form history of the 1970s radical science movement for Mosaic magazine, and co-founded the Guardian science policy blog. Alice is author of Can We Save the Planet?, an illustrated guide to environmental crises (Thames and Hudson, March 2020), and is currently working on a history of the climate crisis (Bloomsbury, Autumn 2021).

          Watch the recording here.

        • Energy Justice, Just Transitions and Climate Change Policy - Max Lacey-Barnacle April 21

          Abstract

          This week's presentation looks at Max’s time as a Policy officer at the Energy Saving Trust, and how Max tried to influence UK/European policy on low-carbon transitions through drawing upon concepts and issues such as energy justice, energy poverty and the now widespread idea of a ‘just transition’. It draws partly on a SPRU blog Max wrote earlier this year, alongside some brief reflections on how research on the intersection between climate change policy and social inequality will become increasingly important in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis.

          Biography

          Max has experience in energy policy as both a researcher and policy officer. He gained his PhD at Cardiff University in 2019, focusing on energy transitions in Bristol City. The thesis applied core energy justice principles (procedural, distributional, recognition) to prominent organisational structures in the ‘civic energy sector’, in order to explore their social equity and justice implications. His thesis also focused on the energy justice implications of energy decentralisation via analysis of the role of intermediaries and networks in facilitating and enhancing widespread local engagement in low-carbon energy transitions.

          Alongside his PhD, Max has spent a year as a Policy Officer at the Energy Saving Trust, where he engaged in Welsh, UK and EU energy and climate policy, focusing on community energy, energy efficiency, fuel poverty and low-carbon transport initiatives. In addition, he has also previously worked for the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University, focusing on extending energy justice research in the developing world and collaborating with academics from METU in Ankara, Turkey.

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        • The Challenge of Decarbonising Steelmaking - Exploring the Levers of Change - Annie Heaton June 16

          Abstract

          The seminar will discuss the potential technologies that could deliver low-emissions steel, and the role of carbon policy, financial markets and the customer market in leveraging the transition of an industry that currently makes up over 7% of the world’s CO2 emissions.

          Biography

          Annie has worked for the past 6 years in the sustainability team at for ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel company, having previously worked in the energy industry - for RES, an independent renewable energy developer – and in the NGO sector (often on private sector issues related to poverty and the environment).

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        • More democracy, not less: The role of democratic participation for climate action - Rebecca Willis June 30

          Abstract

          Frustrated with the lack of climate action, the veteran climate scientist James Lovelock once said “it may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while”. Democratic government, he felt, was standing in the way of a decisive response.

          Rebecca's research suggests the opposite: to tackle the climate crisis, we need more, and better, democracy, not less. In this talk, she will draw from her research with UK Members of Parliament, her role as an Expert Lead for Climate Assembly UK, and her new book Too Hot to Handle? The democratic challenge of climate change. She will set out the case for putting citizen engagement at the centre of our climate strategy.

          Biography

          Rebecca Willis is a Professor in Practice at Lancaster Environment Centre, and an Expert Lead for Climate Assembly UK, the Citizens’ Assembly established by the UK Parliament. From 2018-19 she was a research fellow for the IGov project at the University of Exeter, investigating energy governance. Rebecca is a Trustee of the New Economics Foundation and an adviser to the National Lottery’s Climate Action Fund. From 2015-2019 she was a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of UKRI’s Energy Programme, and from 2011-15 she was a Council Member of the Natural Environment Research Council. Previously she was Vice-Chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, advising the Prime Minister and First Ministers of the devolved administrations.

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Steel decarbonisation, energy transition and environmental conflict