Energy & Climate Seminar Archive

View recordings from the Energy & Climate Seminar Series since 2019/2020.

  • 2023/2024
    • Hydrogen in the UK: Working Backward from the Future (John Szabo, 24 Oct)

      Abstract

      Poster of SeminarHydrogen has not only been propelled to the centre of energy discourse, but a plethora of policy documents indicate its central role in the UK’s energy future. The government has issued a multitude of strategy documents, while it has also begun to develop a regulatory and subsidy framework to kick-start a market. With this, government planning came to play highly visible role in governing institutional change. The novelty in this is the centrality of the social imaginary in shaping institutional development. That is, the government’s active intervention is driven by fictions of the future. This paper draws on the concepts of the social imaginary and the socio-technical imaginary to highlight how futures shape institutional evolution. Drawing on Cornelius Castoriadis’ work, institutions can be understood as social constructs as opposed to “things”, allowing for their greater malleability and elevating the role social fictions play in their evolution. Ideas pertinent to a hydrogen future have become central to energy policy, but the trajectory of the transition is deeply politicised as material forces configure limitations of change and incumbents rely on structural forces to maintain their power. This stands in contrast to Castoriadis’ proposition that argues for the depoliticization of institutions through inclusivity. The UK’s hydrogen imaginary, however, remains exclusionary and technical; megaprojects are taking shape that continue to entrench the capital-state alliance.

      Biography

      John Szabo is a British Academy Visiting Scholar at Brunel University London as well as a Fellow at the Institute of World Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies in Budapest. His work focuses on the society-energy nexus, typically by deploying critical theory, and he is working on a monograph, The Environmental History of Gas in Europe.

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    • Energy and Climate Seminar - Social outcomes of energy use in the United Kingdom: Household energy footprints and their links to well-being (Marta Baltruszewicz, 31 Oct) 

      Abstract

      Post for an energy and climate seminarHow are household energy footprints distributed in the UK? Who are those with the highest and lowest footprints? Is it true that well-being always increases with more income? And how much energy is needed to live well? These questions navigated my research on the UK’s household energy footprints and their links to well-being. In this presentation I will present the UK’s household direct and indirect energy footprints in relation to their well-being. I use both quantitative (input-output method) and qualitative analysis to relate footprints with conceptualizing and operationalizing of objective well-being based on theory of human need. I will focus on inequalities in energy distribution and explain how the top energy users with high well-being are driving excess energy use. I will also discuss who is the most vulnerable to energy poverty and what types of social and physical lock-ins can we observe that stop households from consuming less energy while maintaining high well-being. I will conclude by discussing shortly questions of sufficiency, overconsumption and the context within which we satisfy our need.

      Biography

       

      Marta has an interdisciplinary background in sociology, industrial ecology and ecological economics. Recently, she finished her PhD at the University of Leeds, at the Sustainability Research Institute. Her work was a part of the Leverhulme Trust project, Living Well Within Limits. Her research focused on the analysis of energy footprints at the household level to understand the energy service dependency of human need satisfaction.

      Currently, she lives in Trondheim, Norway and works as a consultant for Asplan Viak, helping city councils and private organisations assess their carbon footprint and make their sustainability agenda more action oriented.

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    • Six rules for a just energy transition in the UK (Ed Atkins, 07 Nov)

      Abstract

      Ed Atkins talk posterRising energy prices and the prevalence of gas central heating in the UK highlight the urgent need for a transition to renewable energy. This shift is no longer solely about combating climate change but also addresses the cost of living and national energy security. Yet, energy policy and climate action are often stymied by politicisation, populism, and a perceived tension between being 'green' and the cares and priorities of 'working people'. There is a need for future energy transition policy to not only make sense of these tensions but also to develop new approaches and narratives to address them. In this presentation, I will outline six routes (and rules) through which a more inclusive approach be found and a broader story of transitions told. Drawing from my recent book A Just Energy Transition: Getting Decarbonisation Right in a Time of Crisis and other projects linked to energy efficiency policies, the 'climate change culture wars', and 'stranded communities' respectively; these rules assert the potential of a socialised, community-led story of transition: formed of better jobs, community ownership, and warmer homes.

      Biography

      Ed Atkins is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol. His research broadly explores how sustainability and decarbonisation policies can be made fairer and more inclusive.

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    • From Analysing to Detecting Energy Injustices: Climbing the Ladder of "Hidden Morality" - Nynke van Uffelen (14 oct)

      advertising poster of the eventAbstract

      Governing a just energy transition requires detecting and anticipating energy injustices. Although much scholarly attention has been given to frameworks to analyse energy injustices, a consistent framework for policymakers and researchers to detect them is lacking. Current methods for detecting what the public perceives as (un)just rely on explicit articulations of grievances by citizens in official participatory settings or during energy conflicts. However, it is implausible that all injustices manifest within these contexts. This study introduces a framework to understand why injustices might remain unseen, inspired by the concept of hidden morality as introduced by the philosopher Axel Honneth. The framework of hidden morality conceptualises several steps between an injustice and social change: (1) experience of injustices; (2) expression of injustices; (3) collective action; (4) uptake in public discourse; (5) reformulation; and (6) social change. Between each of these steps, different obstacles can arise. This presentation explores the mechanisms that prevent energy injustices from surfacing through philosophical literature and two case studies. Its contribution is twofold: it raises awareness of the fact that injustices can remain undetected, and it proposes a framework that is the first systematic tool for policymakers to detect injustices when making energy policies.

      Biography

      Nynke van Uffelen (she/her) is a PhD candidate at the Delft University of Technology, at the Department of Values, Technology and Innovation. Her research is dedicated to energy justice, combining climate ethics and political philosophy. She has a background in philosophy, more specifically in political philosophy, and political science. Currently, she is part of the RELEASE-project that tackles the problem of upscaling energy storage. In her dissertation, she conceptualises justice related to energy and energy storage. Hereby, she focuses on concepts such as recognition justice and normative uncertainty.

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    • Winning the Transition: Strategic Reorientation amid industrial decarbonisation in France and Germany - Sean McDaniel and Dan Bailey (21 Nov)

      Abstract


      Poster of SeminarThe climate and geo-political crises are destabilising European economies by undermining crucial determinants of growth and living standards. Drawing upon Comparative Capitalisms (CC) scholarship, our article Winning the Transition: Strategic Reorientation amid industrial decarbonisation in France and Germany comparatively examines how the French and German states are strategically responding to these catalysts of instability and threats to economic growth. Utilising semi-structured elite interviews and documentary analysis of stakeholder accounts, we find a defence of key national economic interests but also evolving understandings of economic competitiveness and support for capitalist restructuring in some sectors. These strategies are designed to protect and re-establish national competitive advantages. This finds expression differently in the two cases, owing to their distinctive forms of capitalism, varied configurations of interests and institutions and roles of the state. In Germany, we document a strategy of ‘greening business as usual’ through systemic changes to protect the country’s existing competitive advantages in export-led manufacturing. In France, the state is utilising the current conjuncture to re-establish competitive advantages and promote its national interests via the promotion of ‘strategic autonomy’ (SA) at the domestic and regional levels. However, amidst a rapidly altering global economic context, the article also points towards an emerging shift in German strategy with potentially significant consequences for Europe.

      Biographies


      Dr Sean McDaniel is Lecturer in British Politics in the School of Politics and International Studies at the University of Leeds. His research sits within the field of Comparative Political Economy (CPE) and his previous work has examined the British and French models of capitalism. His current research is looking to bring insights from CPE to bear on the issues of industrial decarbonisation and the variegated pathways to Net Zero resulting form distinct models of capitalism that exist across Europe. Sean’s work has been published in journals including New Political Economy, Socio-Economic Review, Journal of European Public Policy, Regulation & Governance, and Geo-forum.

      Dr Dan Bailey is a Senior Lecturer in International Political Economy at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research focuses on the governance of just and unjust transitions. He seeks to better understand the political complexities, structural paradoxes and apparent limits of accommodating environmental targets and industrial decarbonisation plans in governance institutions with pre-existing objectives, budgetary constraints, traditions and strategies, and thus the political and economic barriers to transforming state governance in ways conducive to genuinely ‘just’ transitions.

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    • Challenges in accelerating sustainability transitions: Insights from Germany and California - Karoline Rogge (28 Nov)

      Abstract

      Poster of seminarAddressing the climate crisis necessitates accelerating transitions towards climate-neutral systems of production and consumption, with electrification emerging as a crucial decarbonisation strategy extending beyond multiple systems. However, such acceleration is confronted with various political, economic, technological, social and cultural challenges. In this paper, we propose an extended list of challenges unique to the acceleration phase of socio-technical transitions: we introduce 'expansion and contestation,' 'justice and equity,' and 'international dynamics' as additional challenge types to complement the previously recognized categories of 'whole system change,' 'multi-system interaction,' 'decline and resistance,' 'consumers and social practices,' and 'governance.' Applying this comprehensive analytical framework to the context of passenger-based transport electrification, we investigate the unfolding transition to e-mobility using expert interview data from Germany and California. Our comparative research enables the identification and characterization of over 50 acceleration challenges associated with these transitions. The majority of challenges fall within the categories of 'expansion and contestation' and 'governance', with ‘multi-system interactions’ and ‘international dynamics’ also playing a key role. By analysing similarities and differences between both jurisdictions, we discover several shared challenges with similar problem structures, as well as context-specific variations related to the five themes of policy, vehicle-side, charging, grid-side and other topics. These distinctions can primarily be attributed to differences in transition governance approaches, with Germany encountering greater political contestation while California adopts a more technocratic approach. We discuss these findings in the context of future research on accelerating sustainability transitions, for which we suggest dedicated attention to the dual nature of the politics of transitions encompassing declining and expanding trajectories.

      Biographiy

      Karoline Rogge is Professor of Sustainability Innovation and Policy at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School, and principal investigator of the EMPOCI project on governing the acceleration of sustainable energy-mobility transitions. She was Co-Director of the Sussex Energy Group from April 2017 until August 2021, and inaugural Course Director of SPRU's online MSc in Energy Policy in 2018/19. Karoline joined SPRU in November 2013 from the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (Fraunhofer ISI) in Karlsruhe, Germany, where she has been working on energy and climate policy since 2004 and continues to be affiliated with as senior researcher - and since July 2019 as Deputy Head of the Competence Center Policy & Society.

      View the slides. 

    • Investing in our future: policy, finance and people for a renewable energy transition - Kirsty Hamilton (05 Dec)

      Poster for an energy and climate seminarAbstract 

      The last 20 years have seen impressive growth and cost reductions in renewable energy. Energy policy has played a critical role in this: at the start of this period, renewable energy financiers described the characteristics of good policy as 'loud, long and legal'. The talk will look back at insights arising from engagement with finance practitioners on UK, EU and international policy developments; moving parts today and what securing 'investment confidence' might mean in practice looking ahead. This talk is happening during COP28 where there are calls to triple renewables and double energy efficiency amid pressure to exit fossil fuels.

      Biography

      Kirsty has 3 decades in the climate and energy debate, setting up one of the first initiatives to bridge between policymakers and renewable energy financiers to drive climate solutions, as an Associate Fellow at Chatham House in the early 2000s.

      She went on to lead the policy work of Low Carbon Finance Group of senior finance and investment practitioners throughout Electricity Market Reform (2010-2015) bringing insight on the design of CfDs and the types of issues faced by financiers.

      Since then, she has had Specialist Advisor roles in two Parliamentary Inquiries and has been an IPCC reviewer and contributing author. She was seconded to work on the UK’s Energy Transition team for COP26 (philanthropy funded) and produced a working paper for UKERC on Investment Confidence and government decision-making in 2023.
      Kirsty was awarded an OBE for services to green energy, finance and climate change at New Year 2021.

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    • New Nuclear and Climate Heating: Do the Metrics Matter? - paul dorfman (12 Dec)

      Abstract

      Poster of Paul Dorfman

      Addressing the climate crisis necessitates accelerating transitions towards climate-neutral systems of production and consumption, with electrification emerging as a crucialdecarbonisation strategy extending beyond multiple systems. However, such acceleration is confronted with various political, economic, technological, social and cultural challenges. In this paper, we propose an extended list of challenges unique to the acceleration phase of socio-technical transitions: we introduce 'expansion and contestation,' 'justice and equity,' and 'international dynamics' as additional challenge types to complement the previously recognized categories of 'whole system change,' 'multi-system interaction,' 'decline and resistance,' 'consumers and social practices,' and 'governance.' Applying this comprehensive analytical framework to the context of passenger-based transport electrification, we investigate the unfolding transition to e-mobility using expert interview data from Germany and California. Our comparative research enables the identification and characterization of over 50 acceleration challenges associated with these transitions. The majority of challenges fall within the categories of 'expansion and contestation' and 'governance', with ‘multi-system interactions’ and ‘international dynamics’ also playing a key role. By analysing similarities and differences between both jurisdictions, we discover several shared challenges with similar problem structures, as well as context-specific variations related to the five themes of policy, vehicle-side, charging, grid-side and other topics. These distinctions can primarily be attributed to differences in transition governance approaches, with Germany encountering greater political contestation while California adopts a more technocratic approach. We discuss these findings in the context of future research on accelerating sustainability transitions, for which we suggest dedicated attention to the dual nature of the politics of transitions encompassing declining and expanding trajectories.

      Biographiy

      Dr Paul Dorfman is Visiting Fellow, Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex; Chair, Nuclear Consulting Group; Member, Irish Govt. Radiation Protection Advisory Committee; Member, International Nuclear Risk Assessment Group; Nuclear Researcher, Greenpeace Environmental Trust. Paul served as Secretary to the UK Govt. scientific advisory Committee Examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters; led European Environment Agency response to Fukushima; served as Expert to the European Economic and Social Committee; Advisor to the UK Ministry of Defence Nuclear Submarine Dismantling Project; Adviser to the French Govt. Assemblee Nationale relative à la Faisabilité Technique et Financière du Démantèlement des Installations Nucléaire; and drafted sets of UK Department of Health National Health Service (NHS) guidance.

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    • Working from home and energy demand - Yao Shi (30 Jan)

      Abstract

      Poster of Yao Shi's Energy & Climate Seminar. Text: Working from home and energy demand. Yao Shi. Tuesday 30 January. 13:00-14:00, Jubilee G32 & ZoomMore and more people are working from home now after the Covid-19 global pandemic. Due to this behavioural change, i.e., teleworking, the energy use and carbon emissions in transportation and buildings are probably going to change. However, some of the changes are counter-intuitive. Intuitively, teleworkers will save energy because they travel less for their commute journeys. However, researchers have found that teleworkers travel more for non-commute journeys, such as shopping, visiting friends, travelling, etc. More importantly, teleworkers consume much more energy at home, which outweighs the savings from transportation, if there is any. Teleworkers’ overall energy use and carbon emissions will depend on many factors, as teleworking is a complicated behavior that involves many things. For example, teleworkers can choose to heat one room or the whole property at home, and the area being heated will strongly influence the overall energy use. Besides heating behavior, there are many other factors that influences teleworkers’ energy use and emissions, e.g., home insulation, heating system, distance from work, teleworking frequency, etc. This seminar is going to present simulation results on teleworkers’ transport and home energy use and carbon emissions, and present sensitivity analysis results that identify the main factors influencing teleworkers’ energy use and carbon emissions.

      Biography

      Yao has been working for the digital society theme of the Centre for Energy Demand solutions for three years. Her research investigates how information and communication technology (ICT) influences energy demand with a focus of two topics: teleworking and firm ICT-related behaviors. She has published in the Journal of Energy and Building, which has been tweeted extensively and picked up by news outlets. She has reviewed a few publications on teleworking, including one paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Prior to her PhD, she has a background in finance and international business with the best overall academic performance in her master’s degree in Nottingham University (UK). During her PhD, she has been teaching mathematics and statistics modules for the Economics Department in Sussex University for two years.

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    • Low-carbon transitions in the UK steelmaking, petrochemical and oil refining industries - Julian Gregory (6 Feb)

      Abstract

      Poster of Julian Gregory's Energy & Climate SeminarAccelerated decarbonisation of the UK’s steelmaking, oil refining and petrochemical industries is essential for the UK to meet its net-zero obligations. Yet despite all three industries in the UK being subject to similar economic and socio-political forces over recent years, their transitioning speeds have curiously varied. Drawing on a two-year research project, involving three 30+ year longitudinal case studies (one for each industry), this presentation compares and synthesises the three industry case studies to explain their varying low-carbon reorientation speeds. The analysis applies the triple embeddedness framework to illuminate how five factors – policy support, international competition, financial health, technical feasibility, corporate strategies and mindsets – explain why UK oil refineries have in recent years been comparatively faster in their low-carbon reorientation and why UK steelmaking and petrochemicals have been disappointingly slow. The presentation ends with comparative conclusions; a discussion of political considerations; and future outlooks for the three UK industries, policy, and research.

      Biography

      Dr Julian Gregory is a former Doctoral Researcher with SPRU, attaining his PHD in August 2020. From early 2022, until the end of last year, Julian has been working with Professor Frank Geels (University of Manchester), and the Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (idric.org), analysing the decarbonisation of these three industries. His presentation is a summary of some of their research project’s findings.

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    • The ongoing battle for the electrification of heating in the uk - Richard Lowes (20 feb)


      AbstractPoster of Energy and Climate Seminar. Text: Sussex Energy Group. Sussex Energy & Climate Seminar series. The ongoing battle for the electrification of heating in the UK. Richard Lowes, Tuesday 20 February. 13:00-14:00, Jubilee G32 & Zoom. University of Sussex, Business School. Picture: Richard Lowes.

      To reach the UK’s climate change targets, the vast majority of heating in the UK needs to be electrified using heat pumps, alongside the deployment of energy efficiency measures and heat networks. The vast majority of heat in the UK currently comes from fossil fuels and a successful heating transition means huge impacts for the companies involved in fossil fuel heating. The struggle is being borne out in public with ‘hydrogen versus heat pumps’ a key battle ground. Building on work from 2014 to 2018 on incumbency in the UK’s heat sector, this talk considers what has happened since 2018 and how policy makers need to act, not just to support the heat transition, but also now to manage the incumbents who show no sign of reducing their lobbying efforts. Without actively dealing with both, the UK’s heat transition will not happen at the speed an scale needed, despite offering opportunities for economic growth, decent jobs, warmer homes and enhanced energy security.


      Biography

      Dr Richard Lowes has been working on issues of heat policy in the UK for almost 15 years. Following work in industry for energy company SSE and gas network owner SGN, Richard spent 8 years in academia at the University of Exeter’s energy policy group, research and teaching heating and gas issues – he remains a research fellow at Exeter. Now he works mostly for international energy policy NGO The Regulatory Assistance Project, where he coordinates much of the heat related work. His passion is heating and his home is the UK but Richard’s focus is increasingly on international policy and best practice for clean heat. Richard is an elected member of the Energy Institute and has recently been appointed as a specialist advisor to UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee.

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    • Twenty-five years under the wind turbines in Oaxaca, mexico: Green grabbing, land control and social difference - Gerardo A Torres contreras (27 feb)

      AbstractPoster of Gerardo A Torres Contreras Energy & Climate seminar

      As climate change mitigation technologies expand across the global South, new class dynamics and accumulation patterns are brought to rural areas. In contrast to other forms of energy generation, specific socio-material arrangements associated with wind energy have an important influence on the nexus between energy and trajectories of agrarian change. A small town in the south of Mexico, La Venta, has hosted wind projects since 1994, allowing us to analyse the effects of wind power on social differentiation, land control and land use patterns. Drawing on agricultural censuses and semi-structured interviews with landowners, this seminar sheds light on how wind energy has shifted patterns of land control by fostering land-based incomes over the long term. The result is enhanced social differentiation, benefiting landowners who own more than 20 hectares within the project and pauperising those with small tracts of land.
      Biography
      Gerardo A. Torres Contreras is a Research Fellow in Energy Studies at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex. His research looks at the politics of climate change mitigation through two themes. First, his research examines equity and governance issues related to energy demand reduction through Smart Local Energy Systems and Double Energy Vulnerability in the United Kingdom. Second, his research also investigates the interlinkage between processes of agrarian change and the deployment of climate mitigation technologies in Latin America. He obtained the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK.

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    • power failure - Anthony white (05 mar)
      Abstract Poster of Anthony White's Energy & Climate seminar
      We are in the throes of yet another review of the trading arrangements of the British Wholesale Electricity Market. It is very unlikely to succeed – if “success” is defined as there not being subsequent, well considered, calls for a further review within five years.

      The reason for my pessimism is that the Government does not understand the behaviour of our current market and, without a correct diagnosis, it is unlikely to propose an effective remedy. The problem is that Governments, academics and the industry itself have not fully appreciated the consequence of the difficulty of storing electricity cheaply in bulk. Governments, of all persuasions, have tried to overcome the problems by interfering in market, such as through the capacity market and the provision Contracts for Differences. However, for various reasons, these are unlikely to be effective as we move toward net Zero.

      My conclusion is that the creation of a competitive wholesale electricity market in 1990 was an unfortunate mistake. I have come to this position reluctantly, especially as I was one of the team that liberalised, then privatised, the industry in 1990 and have since worked in the electricity industry itself and the City. There are other commercial arrangements to provide clean, secure supplies of electricity at affordable prices and these will be discussed.

      Biography 
      Dr Tony White has over forty years’ experience in international power markets and low carbon economy from roles in capital markets analytical and industry. He has been particularly interested in the way liberalised power markets operate and how they are financed. He has made a number of contributions to the development of these markets. These include:
      • advising the UK Government on privatising the power sector in 1989/90 as the analyst for James Capel, the Government’s lead broker. In particular, he was involved with the development of the “pool” and the associated regulation of the networks;
      • establishing the “Uplift Management Incentive Scheme” in 1994 (now the Transmission Services Scheme) when at National Grid. He subsequently became a member of National Grid’s Executive and Head of Strategy;
      • overseeing the research of Kleinwort Benson and Citigroup’s European and Global Utility teams over 1996-2002, eventually becoming the top ranked team across all sectors. This included developing a theory of valuation for merchant generation in fragmented and oligopolistic markets;
      • being a member of a number of UK Government Committees, including the Energy Advisory Panel (1994-2003), Energy Networks Strategy Group (2002-2006), Commission on Environmental Markets and Economic Performance (2007), Nuclear Liability Financing Assurance Board (2009-); and
      • devising a number of policy measures some of which are now passing into legislation; namely the introduction of a carbon floor price (2005), the linking of loans for energy improvements to properties being tied to the property itself, rather than an individual, i.e. the Green Deal aka Pay as you Save (2004).

      In 2003, he founded, with four colleagues, Climate Change Capital, a boutique asset management business, specialising in the low carbon economy. He retired in 2008 and still provides it and others with advice on low carbon energy and power markets through BW Energy Limited. He is a non-executive director of Triple Point Energy Transition PLC, Star Energy PLC and Green Energy Options. He held similar roles at The Crown Estate, The Green Deal Financing Company, the National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth and 2OC. He was awarded an MBE in 2004 for services to UK Energy Policy. He was educated at Oxford University where he studied Physics.

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      Full paper

    • The political economy of fossil fuel subsidy reform in developing countries - Neil Mcculloch (12 mar)

      AbstractPoster of Neil McCulloch's Energy & Climate Seminar, with title and dates.

      Dr. Neil McCulloch is the author of “Ending Fossil Fuel Subsidies – the politics of saving the planet”, published by Practical Action Publishing, which the talk will be based on. It explains what fossil fuel subsidies are, how they inflict harm and what steps are being taken to reduce them. It also shows why subsidies persist and why existing efforts have been so ineffective. Drawing lessons from countries which have tried to remove fossil fuel subsidies, it explains that the fundamental challenge to reform is not technical, but political. This talk lays out a new agenda for action on fossil fuel subsidies, showing how a better understanding of the underlying political incentives can lead to more effective approaches to tackling this major global problem.
       
      Biography
      Dr. Neil McCulloch is a Director of The Policy Practice. His main area of focus is on the political economy of reform in the energy sector. This has included work on corruption in the electricity sector in Lebanon; power sector reform in Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan; energy access in India; coal phase out in Indonesia; fuel subsidy reform in Indonesia, Nigeria and Zambia; and electricity market reform in Guinea, Mali and Togo. Previously, Dr. McCulloch was the Director of the Economic Policy Program at Oxford Policy Management and, before that, the Lead Economist of the Australian Aid program in Indonesia. He has also led the Globalisation Research Team in the Institute of Development Studies in the UK and was a Senior Economist for the World Bank in Indonesia.
    • The empirical realities of polycentric climate governance - Paul Tobin (19 Mar)

      AbstractPoster of Paul Tobin's Energy & Climate seminar

      Climate change requires urgent, transformative, and, crucially, effective action. Scholars have undertaken much conceptual development of ‘polycentric’ climate governance (PCG). Yet, there has been limited empirical examination as to what extent this descriptive, analytical, and normative concept can aid climate action; it may even undermine our efforts in certain contexts. Thus, this seminar examines the empirical realities of PCG, by building from a shared definition of the concept to analyze a carefully selected and complementary group of country contexts, governance levels, and types of actors. The talk begins by outlining shared definitions and the need to study the empirical realities of PCG. Second, Paul focuses on the constitutive components of PCG, such as trust and power. From here, Paul will share the results of his own manuscript on businesses’ climate activities. Businesses’ roles within transboundary polycentric governance have often been overlooked, especially regarding the effectiveness of their involvement in transnational climate initiatives, and the extent to which businesses meet their climate goals. In response, he and his co-authors analyze 12,568 companies and investors from 38 economically developed states according to their involvement in Transnational Climate Initiatives (TCIs), to determine the ambitiousness and the accomplishment (or not) of their climate commitments.
       
      Biography
      Paul Tobin is a Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor in Politics, and Deputy Director of the Manchester Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, at the University of Manchester. He specialises in the politics and public policy of climate change within Europe. In particular, Paul has specialised in the pathways to climate leadership and also, in contrast, the processes that enable the dismantling of environmental legislation. Paul has recently edited a special issue on ‘climate intermediaries’ and at Sussex he will be presenting on his next Special Issue, which is forthcoming in Global Environmental Politics, on polycentric climate governance.
    • Energy & Digitalisation mini-series: Software's role in sustainability - Adam newman & Oliver Winks (16 Apr)

      AbstractPoster of Adam Newman and Oliver Winks Energy & Climate Seminar

      This talk introduces an environmental lens to the software development lifecycle. Software is a tool for implementing digital solutions, it does this through instructing hardware to solve things for us. Hardware requires energy and natural resources to manufacture and run. So the digital solutions we build clearly drive the demand for hardware consumption. We look to understand the environmental impact of our digital world, present some data, explore the alarming rate of growth and then introduce some of the things we can do to optimise the software development process and address this issue.

      Biography

      Adam and Oliver are old friends and software developers, meeting in a computing lab at the University Of Sussex in 2010. In recent years they became curious about how digital products affect the environment. A lot of digging around followed, with surprise after surprise about the scale of the problem. That initial curiosity slowly morphed into purpose and they started Green Software Brighton, a local tech community with regular in-person events. More recently, they joined forces to start Root & Branch, a software company with the simple mission to help decarbonise ICT and build digital products with a conscience.

       

      About the mini-seminar series:

      As the energy sector stands at the crossroads of digital transformation, this seminar series taking place over April seeks to explore the interplay between digital technologies and energy systems from multiple perspectives. 

      The series aims to foster a dialogue between practitioners and researchers, encouraging a synergistic exchange that bridges the gap between academia and industry. It serves as a platform for critical engagement, where varied experiences and insights converge to envision a sustainable and just transition.

      This series has been coordinated by Aslı Ateş. Ateş is a doctoral candidate at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) of the University of Sussex. Her research investigates the impact of changing data practices and digitalisation on the UK's transition to integrated energy and mobility systems. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, Ateş combines insights from policy studies with socio-technical systems analysis. She applies a mixed-methods approach to her work, which includes both traditional research techniques and exploratory methods like natural language processing.

      Ateş also holds a MSc. in Sustainable Development from SPRU, University of Sussex, and a BSc. in Management Engineering from Istanbul Technical University. Additionally, she has experience in engaging with various projects across academia, the private sector, and non-profit organisations.

      Watch a recording of the roundtable

      Watch a recording of the talk

       

  • 2022/2023
    • Dead and Buried: How Carbon Capture and Storage was brought back to life - marc hudson, sep 27

      Abstract

      In late 2015, with no warning, the UK Treasury ended a billion pound competition to create carbon capture and storage projects in the UK. It looked like the end of an already long-road for the climate mitigation technology. Yet, three years later the UK government was hosting international conferences and re-affirming its commitment to the project to capture power and industrial carbon emissions and bury them under the North Sea.

      How did this reversal occur? Who did what, who deployed what ideas and arguments to convince the UK government to change its mind (back) to support? Based on documentary analysis and interviews, this paper presents a narrative to explain how various proponents of CCS acted to influence decision-makers to give CCS yet another chance to prove itself.

      Biography

      Dr Marc Hudson is a research fellow at SPRU, working on a project about the politics of industrial decarbonisation policy. The project’s PI is Dr Matthew Lockwood, and it is part of the Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre.
      Dr Hudson completed his PhD at University of Manchester in 2018. He runs a climate history website – allouryesterdays.info

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    • Energy and transport poverty amidst plenty: the case of Iceland - Chukwuka Monyei (on behalf of Paul Upham), oct 04

      Abstract

      What can we learn in terms of just energy and mobility transitions from a country that already uses largely renewable energy? In this talk, we look at Iceland. Although Iceland performs well in OECD terms with respect to the Gini index of income inequality, poverty is increasing, such that about 5% of the population are now defined by the country’s statistical agency as materially deprived. Focusing on energy and transport poverty, we draw together analysis of Statistics Iceland data; the results of focus groups with representative members of the Icelandic public; and interviews with people self-identifying as either having a disability or experiencing poverty. We take disability as an exemplar case of a vulnerable group. While none of our interviewees had experienced loss of access to heat in the home, some had experienced deliberate disconnection by power companies. All interviewees experienced transport-related difficulties in terms of cost or access, and the focus group participants provide details on the mixed experience of the more typical Icelander via a vis transport. The Icelandic case illustrates how welfare state benefit design and the general cost of living impact individuals’ lived experience of transport and energy use in the home, despite energy supply being low carbon. We discuss corresponding policy and research implications.

      Biography

      Dr Paul Upham is a Research Fellow in SPRU, University of Sussex. He works on the social science of low carbon energy transitions and has a particular interest in connecting different levels of analysis in this field.

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    • Cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances

       

    • Perpetuating socio-technical regimes? The role of consultants - shanyun sam lu, oct 18

      Abstract

      In the context of socio-technical transitions, consultants tend to be viewed as intermediatory actors brokering between different parties in the innovation and transformation processes. Despite the significant involvement of consultants in such processes, they have rarely been specifically targeted in transition studies nor by policy, and thereby operate mostly “under the radar”. Current research on the role of intermediaries have enlightened us with how such actors may facilitate transitions. While consultants may have the potential to create and assist the adoption of innovative and sustainable solutions via their service offerings to clients, the opposite is also observed in our study. Drawing on the Strategic Innovation Programs funded by the Swedish innovation agency VINNOVA, the Energy Agency and the Government Research Council for Sustainable Development, we investigate the role of consultants primarily through in-depth analysis on the program’s database and over 40 interviews with consultants, industrial firms, program management, researchers and the three national funding parties. To what extent and how consultants perpetuate socio-technical regimes deserve scholarly and policy attention, which this study addresses.

      Biography

      Shanyun Sam Lu is a post-doctoral researcher at CIRCLE, Lund University and at Jönköping International Business School in Sweden. After completing her Ph.D. dissertation titled “Managing contexts for innovation and renewal – Strategies of incumbent firms in traditional manufacturing industries” in 2020, she proceeds to extend her research focus on innovation policy and governance in the context of socio-technical transitions. Among others, she is currently involved in two large-scale projects: the Swedish Transformative Innovation Policy Platform (STIPP) funded by VINNOVA, and Renewal of Mature Industries in Sweden funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation. Thanks to a generous grant from the Hedelius Foundation, Sam is visiting SPRU as research fellow for four months during autumn 2022 and spring 2023.

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    • POSITIVE TIPPING POINTs - TIM LENTON, OCT 25

      Abstract

      Tipping points exist in social, ecological and climate systems and those systems are increasingly causally intertwined in the Anthropocene. Climate change and biosphere degradation have advanced to the point where we are already triggering damaging environmental tipping points, and to avoid worse ones ahead will require finding and triggering positive tipping points towards sustainability in coupled social, ecological and technological systems. To help with that I outline how tipping points can occur in continuous dynamical systems and in networks, the causal interactions that can occur between tipping events across different types and scales of system – including the conditions required to trigger tipping cascades, the potential for early warning signals of tipping points, and how they could inform deliberate tipping of positive change. In particular, the same methods that can provide early warning of damaging environmental tipping points can be used to detect when a socio-technical or socio-ecological system is most sensitive to being deliberately tipped in a desirable direction. I provide some example targets for such deliberate tipping of positive change.

      Biography

      Professor Tim Lenton is the Director of the Global Systems Institute and Chair in Climate Change and Earth System Science at the University of Exeter. Tim’s research focuses on understanding the behaviour of the Earth as a whole system, the complex web of biological, geochemical and physical processes that shape the chemical composition of the atmosphere and oceans, as well as the climate of the Earth. His award-winning work identifying Tipping Points in the climate system has led him to examine Positive Tipping Points within our social systems which could help accelerate progress towards a sustainable future. He is a member of the Earth Commission and is a Clarivate Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher. Tim has twice been cited in lists of the world’s most influential climate scientists.

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    • eXTRA SEMINAR: The energy transition and Canada’s residential sector - Runa Das, OCT 31

      Abstract

      Canada is energy transitioning and moving away from fossil fuels. This will impact the residential sector, which will also need to energy transition. Among Canada’s households, energy consumption is a predominant activity – domestic energy use per capita is among the highest in the world. In this talk I will provide an overview of residential energy use in Canada, barriers to transitioning, and potential considerations for energy transition.

      Biography

      Dr. Runa R. Das is Associate Professor at Royal Roads University, Victoria, Canada. She received her PhD in Environmental Applied Science and Management from Toronto Metropolitan University in 2016 and holds Master’s and undergraduate degrees in Psychology. She is an interdisciplinary researcher interested in energy use and energy-related topics mostly at the household level. She is currently focusing study on equitable household energy transitions in Canada. She is the current Steering Committee Vice Chair of Women and Inclusivity in Sustainable Energy Research (WISER): a global network of women and non-binary academics in the field of clean, low-carbon, or sustainable energy research. Das has provided consultation and advice to government, environmental organizations, not-for-profits, and was recently commissioned to co-author a report on energy poverty for the David Suzuki Foundation. She receives research funding primarily from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

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    • Democracy and climate action - lina brand correa, Nov 1

      Abstract

      As a highly complex issue, the decisions around climate action require public input and meaningful involvement for several reasons. These include fairness and equity, public acceptability, inclusion, and personal and community changes. However, given the urgency of keeping global warming well below 1.5 degrees, it is tempting to see democracy a barrier to effective action. This presentation will explore eight tensions that any democracy has to deal with, and how these tensions are playing out around climate action. The tensions are taken from Astra Taylor’s book “Democracy may not exist but we’ll miss it when it’s gone”, and they are: spontaneity/structure, conflict/consensus, coercion/choice, expertise/mass opinion, inclusion/exclusion, freedom/equality, local/global, and present/future. Furthermore, I will delve into an increasingly popular from of participatory democracy: citizens’ assemblies or juries (also called mini-publics), and evaluate where they sit within those tensions through a comparison of the Leeds Climate Jury and the Oxford Climate Assembly (both of which took place in 2019).

      Biography

      Dr. Lina Brand Correa is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University (Toronto). She completed her PhD ("Following the ‘golden thread’: Exploring the energy dependency of economies and human well-being") at the University of Leeds, received an MSc in Ecological Economics at the University of Edinburgh and a BA in Economics from the National University of Colombia, Medellín campus. Her research interests include the impact of energy systems on climate change, energy return on investment, energy (service) requirements for the satisfaction of human needs, the impact of provisioning systems on wellbeing, and the democratic implications of climate action. Her approach to research and teaching is centered on real-world problems and thus focuses on finding possible avenues for change.

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    • The politics of market reconfiguration: evidence from electric vehicles in california and germany - nicholas goedeking, nov 8

      Abstract

      How and under what conditions does market reconfiguration towards cleaner energy systems come about? In this paper we argue that market reconfiguration requires policy change across inter-dependent policy sub-systems and that such change can be triggered by coalition cascades: chains of political coalitions which culminate through positive policy feedback. We examine our argument with comparative evidence from California and Germany, with a focus on the politics of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure between 2010 and 2016. Our analysis leverages insights from 27 expert interviews. We uncover three critical factors which help explain why coalition cascades unfolded in California but not in Germany. First, California’s vertically integrated electricity market generated powerful interests for incumbent utilities to expand EV charging infrastructure. Germany’s decentralized market design, in contrast, contributed to policy fragmentation. Second, California’s venture capital environment enabled EV charging start-ups to advocate for sector-specific policies. In Germany, the EV charging sector was captured by incumbent interests. Third, California’s push for EV charging infrastructure faced limited political opposition. In Germany transport electrification policies were repeatedly blocked by domestic automobile interests. These findings suggest that market reconfiguration requires incumbents and new actors to align around transformational policy goals. Market designs thereby determine policy interests. As climate policymaking turns from greening power to greening transport, Germany’s decentralized energy systems, which has long been heralded as an enabler of its electricity market reconfiguration, could be turning into a barrier.

      Biography

      Nicholas Goedeking is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Sussex, where he is a member of the Science Policy Research Unit. He is also a visiting postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is affiliated with the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. His research focuses on the politics of clean energy and transport policy. Before academia, Nicholas worked on climate and energy policy in Berlin and Brussels, including for the Directorate-General for Energy at the European Commission. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.Sc. from the University of Oxford.

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    • Afghanistan’s energy sociotechnical imaginaries: alternative visions in a conflict zone - abdullah fahimi, nov 15

      Abstract

      Imaginaries are understood to be both discursive and cognitive constructs that shape behaviour, policies, and institutions – but how do longstanding imaginaries evolve in new circumstances, and how do they interact with existing power structures in changed circumstances? Drawing on conceptions of discursive power, this paper investigates the interplay of power with both new and old imaginaries in the case of Afghanistan, specifically regarding alternative energy futures. Employing an interpretive approach, we draw on document analysis of stakeholder positions and semi-structured interviews with elite stakeholders and policy observers, to provide an account of the relations between alternative energy futures imaginaries and political power. We show the relationship between the two to be bidirectional, both reflecting and reinforcing power asymmetries. Critically, the government-advocated imaginary of Afghanistan as an energy corridor and hence an energy importer both represents the views of several powerful interests and concurs with the long-held idea of Afghanistan as a buffer state. In this way, political path dependencies are reinforced through a supportive imaginary, just as the dominant imaginary is itself reinforced by the main political powers. While in line with our interpretive epistemology we do not make claims for the specific configuration of imaginaries being generalisable elsewhere, we do find the general theoretical approach useful for understanding discursive aspects of conflict zone politics, particularly vis a vis energy system trajectories.

      Biography

      Abdullah Fahimi, currently based in Berlin, is a PhD researcher at Leuphana University of Lüneburg in Germany. Abdullah’s research interests lie in the area of sociotechnical transitions. His current research focuses on energy transitions in Afghanistan.

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    • America's Energy Gamble: People, Economy and Planet - Shanti Gamper-Rabindran, nov 22

      Abstract

      This book details how any administration intent on pursuing a pro-fossil policy, when Congress fails to act as a check, can change governance rules to permanently entrench oil and gas extraction and reliance in the United States and to cripple regulatory agencies. The Trump administration’s actions which violated traditional bipartisan values of economic prudence, environmental stewardship and respect for democratic norms, damaged Americans’ health, economy and governing institutions. Americans can take steps to reset the United States to a sustainable energy pathway and a more inclusive economy. Proposed legislation that combines incentives for the deployment of renewable energy with long-term investments into revitalizing fossil fuel communities enjoys strong support among voters in fossil fuel reliant regions. Government policies that correct economic-wide signals to capture pollution and climate risks creates a more level playing field for the growth of more sustainable livelihoods. These actions can bolster the momentum for a sustainable and equitable transition.

      https://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/earth-and-environmental-science/environmental-policy-economics-and-law/americas-energy-gamble-people-economy-and-planet?format=PB

      Biography

      Shanti Gamper-Rabindran is an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh, with a Ph.D. in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.Sc. in Environmental Management and BA in Jurisprudence, both from Oxford University where she was a Rhodes scholar. She served as the August-Wilhelm Scheer Visiting Professor at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, at the Department of Environment and Climate Policy. She is the editor of The Shale Dilemma: A Global Perspective on Fracking and Shale Development (2018), which received critical acclaim.

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    • cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances

       

    • The institutional sources of economic transformation: insulation and compensation in politics of energy transitions - jared finnegan, DEC 6

      Abstract

      Why are some governments more effective in promoting economic change than others? We develop a theory of the institutional sources of economic transformation. Institutions can facilitate transformation through two central mechanisms: insulation and compensation. The institutional sources of transformation vary across policy types—whether policies impose costs primarily on consumers (demand-side policies) or on producers (supply-side policies). Proportional electoral rules and strong welfare states facilitate demand-side policies, whereas autonomous bureaucracies and corporatist interest intermediation facilitate supply-side policies. We test our theory by leveraging the 1973 oil crisis, an exogenous shock that compelled policymakers to simultaneously pursue transformational change across industrialized countries. Evidence from the generalized synthetic control method, case studies, and discourse network analysis support our hypotheses. The findings have important implications for contemporary transformations including climate change policy and low-carbon transitions.

      Biography

      Jared Finnegan is a Lecturer in Public Policy at UCL. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE. Before joining UCL he held postdoctoral fellowships at UC Berkeley and Princeton University. He studies the comparative political economy of the high-income democracies, investigating how governments, voters, and business understand and address long-term societal challenges, particularly climate change. His work has appeared in Comparative Political Studies, Socio-Economic Review, and Climate Policy.

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    • UK's drive to zero climate emissions in political instability, locally & internationally - doug parr, jan 24

      Abstract

      The role of UK climate leadership is unclear just as the full ramifications of the investment and economic case for driving ahead more rapidly is becoming clearer. What has put UK in this unenviable position of making much of its climate record but now facing serious headwinds in establishing an economic transition plan. The wider politics of energy in Europe and globally become relevant to show a government trapped as much by its own belief systems as any external factors.

      Biography

      Dr Douglas Parr is Chief Scientist and Policy Director at Greenpeace UK. He has specialised in climate change policy in across power, heat and transport sectors for many years, and also monitoring issues such as bioenergy, agriculture and land use. He has previously worked on a number of issues including chemicals policy, green refrigeration, waste and marine conservation. He obtained a D.Phil in Atmospheric Chemistry from Oxford University in 1991.

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    • Anticipating the future: The role of long-term planning in climate governance - Alexandra Buylova, feb 7

      Abstract

      While climate change is often examined as a collective action and a market problem, we look at it as a problem of planning and coordination. Specifically, we argue that climate mitigation in line with the goals of the Paris agreement requires long term policy making whereby countries plan and coordinate structural changes and communicate these both to domestic and international audiences. We take long-term climate strategies (LT-LEDS) as an example of a governance instrument that may help countries with their long-term policy making. We explore how these strategies describe countries’ climate plans and what the perceptions of government officials are about the role of these strategies as governance instruments. We structure our analysis along the following dimensions: (1) planning (what types of action are described in LT-LEDS) using automated text analysis of 50 strategies; (2) perceptions of strength and feasibility of these plans in terms of coordination (who is doing what) and support (financial and political on international and domestic levels) among government officials of four countries (11 semi-structured interviews) representing different parts of the world and GDP (Mexico, South Africa, Japan and Germany). This study is an exploratory analysis of long-term climate strategies as governance instruments. The study thereby contributes to examining the links between domestic and international factors shaping climate governance, advancing our understanding of global climate policy making and identifying important political and institutional responses to climate change.

      Biography

      Alexandra Buylova is a researcher at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs in Stockholm, Sweden. Her research focuses on national decarbonization actions and policies, including carbon dioxide removal technologies, carbon border adjustment mechanisms. She was a postdoc on a “Pathways to Carbon Neutrality” project at Stockholm University Department of Political Science from 2020-2022. She holds a PhD in Public Policy from Oregon State University (2018), where she studied public risk perceptions and survey methodology.

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    • TRADE POLICIES AND EMISSIONS REDUCTION: ESTABLISHING AND ASSESSING OPTIONS - EMILY LYDGATE, MAR 7

      Abstract

      One element of achieving coherence between trade and climate strategy is to confront the impact of UK trade on its overall consumption emissions footprint. This footprint, which accounts for 46% of UK overall emissions (CCC, 2021) has been identified by the UK Government as the highest per-capita in the G7 (ONS, 2019). Concerns about consumption emissions can be divided into two issues: carbon leakage and broader emissions. Carbon leakage refers to the UK’s production emissions moving to countries in which it is cheaper for industries to emit. Broader consumption emissions differ from leakage in that they do not result directly from UK climate pricing and regulation, but simply from the fact that people in the UK consume products produced elsewhere. If the UK outsources, rather than reduces, its overall emissions, it will not address its global contribution to climate change.

      In this Report, commissioned by the UK Committee on Climate Change, we utilise economic and legal methods to identify and evaluate key issues facing the UK in contemplating the introduction of border measures to address consumption emissions. We focus on border carbon adjustment (BCA), and product standards. BCAs price the emissions that result from the manufacturing process of imported products. Product standards, rather pricing emissions, would require that imported products fall below embodied emissions thresholds in order to be imported into the UK. The UK doesn’t currently impose such regulation. We conclude that such policies require tradeoffs between three core objectives: inclusivity, environmental ambition and technical feasibility. Also, effective coordination with the EU, which is imminently introducing BCA (described as its Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism), potentially supports the achievement of environmental and technical objectives.

      Biography

      Emily Lydgate is a Reader in Environmental Law at the University of Sussex and Deputy Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. She is a Specialist Advisor on trade agreements to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (UK House of Commons). She is also an instructor for the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's Advanced Diplomatic Academy. She holds a PhD from King's College London and an MSc (with distinction) from Oxford University. She has consulted at the United Nations Environment Programme's Economics and Trade Branch. She is undertaking research projects funded by the UK Climate Change Committee, the EU Horizon 2020 programme and UK Research and Innovation focusing on trade, sustainability, and emissions reduction.

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    • getting ready for the next terrawatt: building a sustainable wind energy supply chain - ben backwell, mar 10

      Abstract

      After 30 years of growing momentum, the wind industry will reach the landmark of 1TW of installed power in 2022, putting it into the big leagues of global energy sources. However,  energy transition scenarios foresee wind energy expanding at an accelerated pace and reaching the 2TW mark as early as 2030. Government targets for renewables and wind energy have increased massively over the last year under the impact of high fossil fuel prices and energy security concerns, while the US is implementing its groundbreaking Inflation Reduction Act, causing other countries and regions to respond. Faced with this scenario, we will examine the current state of the global supply chain, and look at the sustainability challenges and bottlenecks which could threaten or delay an accelerated expansion of wind energy.

      Biography

      Ben Backwell is the CEO of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), the organisation that represents the private sector wind industry globally. Mr Backwell is a strategist and thought leader who has been involved in global energy markets for over 20 years, as a journalist, analyst, advisor and government affairs specialist. He is the author of "Wind Power: the struggle for a new global industry (Taylor and Francis, 2017) of which a third edition will be published in 2023 and a frequent media commentator. He sits on a number of advisory boards and committees in the renewable energy space, including the RE100, IRENA and IEA, and will be leading the wind sector's intervention at COP28 in Dubai.

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    • Offshore Wind – Technology, Economics, Policy & Future - Malte Jansen, mar 14

      Abstract

      Offshore wind is shaping up to become a game changing technology in battling climate change. It’s scalability, technological progression, low(er) intermittency and potential links to a hydrogen economy makes it an obvious choice for decarbonising energy system around the world. Offshore wind capacity is set to quadruple by 2030, exceeding 200 GW globally. In this seminar, we will explore the current status of offshore wind, touching on technical, economic and political aspects, both in the UK and worldwide and shed light on what the future might hold for the technology. The session will conclude with an AMA (ask me anything).

      Biography

      Malte is a Lecturer in Energy and Sustainability specialising in energy systems with high shares of renewables, at the Science and Policy Research Unit at the Business School of the University of Sussex. He is an expert in energy policy, renewable and conventional power plant technology, energy market design, econometric modelling. He is the co-founder of Power Swarm (www.powerswarm.co.uk), a network for academics, industry and government experts working on power system transformation. His research has shown large impact in the public domain, leading the debate on the energy system's policy. His commentary has appeared in Financial Times, Forbes, NBC, New Scientist, The Guardian, The Independent, amongst others. Malte is a doctor of energy economics (Dr. rer. pol.) and wrote his thesis on the economics of wind and solar in markets for power system reserve. He holds degrees in engineering and economics.

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    • Towards an institutional “landscape” view of modern money creation & reflections on ecological significance - Andrew Hook, mar 28

      Abstract

      In recent years, a number of different strands within heterodox economic thinking have successfully provided more empirically robust and sociologically informed answers to the question of exactly how money gets created. However, there is a tendency within these analyses to discuss the different money creation theories and institutional practices in isolation. This arguably inhibits a broader (and perhaps non-specialist) audience from grasping the whole institutional picture of money creation, especially in the field of sustainability studies. This article therefore attempts to work towards a “landscape” view of modern money creation processes by engaging critically with contemporary heterodox theories and the latest empirical evidence. It attempts to develop a set of original visual figures that illustrate the main three institutional mechanisms though which new money is created: by customers “borrowing new money into existence” when commercial banks make loans; by central banks creating new money when they purchase assets such as government bonds from investors; and by the government “spending new money into existence”. The article then reflects on how a clearer institutional understanding of these processes may be helpful in improving our overall capacity to think about how money creation may better serve current urgent social and environmental needs, especially in the post- COVID-19 context.

      Biography

      Dr Andrew Hook is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Sussex, United Kingdom.

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    • The Dutch approach to residential heat transition: Are there lessons for the UK? - Matthew Lockwood & Anna Devenish, APR 25

      Abstract

      Both the Netherlands and Great Britain are trying to decarbonise residential heat from a similar starting point of high use of natural gas. In some areas, for example building regulations, taxation and electricity network regulation, similarities in governance can be explained by the fact that both countries fell under common EU frameworks until very recently. However, in other respects there are significant differences in the approaches they are taking (although there is also variation within GB). The Netherlands has a more concrete framework for heat decarbonisation and has made greater progress in terms of local level planning and piloting, than the UK; broadly speaking the Netherlands is ahead in the transition. The governance approach to heat decarbonisation in the Netherlands involves a much stronger role for local government (municipalities) in than in England and Wales to date, while Scotland is in an intermediary position. The Dutch approach is also characterised by more consultative processes aimed at reaching consensus between stakeholders, and is more willing to give a larger role to state intervention and direct delivery than in England and Wales, with Scotland again in somewhat of an intermediary position. In this seminar we discuss political and policy governance characteristics of the Dutch approach, assess its strengths and weaknesses, and how far lessons for GB can be drawn from the Dutch experience. The analysis draws on the 18 month UKERC-funded Going Dutch? research project.

      Biography

      Dr Matthew Lockwood is a Senior Lecturer in Energy Policy in the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, and Co-Director of the Sussex Energy Group. He has 20 years of experience conducting research on energy and climate policy in the UK and elsewhere, with recent publications on UK climate governance and the role of national oil companies in fossil fuel subsidies. He leads the Going Dutch? project on heat decarbonisation in the UK and the Netherlands.


      Dr Anna Devenish is a Research Fellow in the Governance of Heat Transitions at the University of Sussex’s Science Policy Research Unit, and a member of the Sussex Energy Group. She works with Dr Matthew Lockwood on the Going Dutch? project, funded by the UK Energy Research Centre. She received a PhD in Public Policy from Oregon State University in 2020 and completed a Master’s degree in Public Policy at the same university with support from the Fulbright programme.

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    • Interdisciplinary research on rebound effects. State-of-art and emerging research needs - Hans Jakob Walnum, JUN 6

      Abstract

      The rebound effect (RE) is concerned with behavioral or systemic responses (mostly discussed in relation to energy efficiency improvements). RE is often expressed as the percentage differences between expected savings and actual energy use after implementation of an energy efficiency improvement. An overall rebound effect of 100% means that the expected energy savings are entirely offset, leading to zero net savings. In recent years, rebound research has shifted from solely to be discussed within energy economics towards an interdisciplinary field based on several disciplines and methodologies. Traditionally rebound effects have been explained by income and substitution effects. Interdisciplinary work has expanded the explanations for rebound effects which implies that structures (physical infrastructures, economic and political systems, mental mechanisms) as well as other factors (e.g. habits, lifestyles, change of attitudes and norms) despite ‘saved money’ can generate rebound effects.

      Biography

      Hans Jakob Walnum is the administrative leader of the climate and environmental group at Western Norway Research Institute and has been Acting Director of the Institute. Walnum has extensive research and project management experience and has worked on and led several projects with large interdisciplinary consortiums. He currently leads the following projects: Climate budget 2.0, NTRANS, TourRisk, Shift Plastics. His research interests are life cycle analysis, transport, sustainable circular economy, energy transitions and rebound effects. He has a master’s degree in political science from NTNU and a PhD in planning from Aalborg University.

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    • Challenges in the decarbonization of the Chilean electricity sector - Esteban Gil and George Kerrigan Richard, jun 12

      Abstract

      The decarbonization of the Chilean electricity sector aligns with the country's nationally determined contribution (NDC) commitments under the Paris Agreement. Transitioning to cleaner energy sources and implementing effective mitigation strategies within the sector is crucial to meeting these targets. Despite recent progress in seizing the country's enormous potential for green energy production, challenges arise in managing the variability and uncertainty of renewable sources, upgrading infrastructure, strengthening regulatory frameworks, and ensuring social acceptance and stakeholder engagement. Overcoming these challenges requires a coordinated effort among government, industry stakeholders, and society to successfully decarbonize the Chilean electricity sector. In this context, there is a need for tools to understand the potential effects of policy interventions on various aspects such as emissions reduction, energy affordability, job creation, and economic growth. These tools can enable policymakers to make informed decisions, optimize policy measures, and ensure the effectiveness of decarbonization strategies in achieving environmental and socio-economic goals.

      Biography

      Esteban Gil
      Dr. Esteban Gil is a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and a Researcher at the Advanced Center for Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María in Valparaíso, Chile. In 2002, he received a Fulbright scholarship to pursue doctoral studies in the US and obtained his PhD degree from Iowa State University in 2007, where he also earned an MSc in Statistics. With extensive experience as a consultant in Australia and Chile, he has modeled electricity markets in Oceania, Asia, Africa, and South America. Currently, he works as a consultant for the Chilean Ministry of Energy, focusing on topics related to electricity market reform within the context of the electricity sector's decarbonization. Dr. Gil has published 58 articles in journals and conference proceedings, covering subjects such as the security and reliability of electric power systems, optimization of power system operation and planning, application of probabilistic and machine learning methods, electricity market design, and integration of emerging technologies into the electricity grid.

      George Kerrigan Richard
      George Kerrigan Richard is an Agricultural Engineer from the University of Chile, Master in Economic and Social Sciences from the University of Wales in the United Kingdom. He currently serves as Vice President of the Board of the Sanitary Services Concessionary Company, Econssa, and researcher and professor in the Department of Business Administration of the Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria. He previously has been served as Economic Affairs Consultant for the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, ECLAC. His areas of specialization are linked to agriculture, energy and economics. In this way, he has developed teaching tasks and has performed functions as a specialist in the review, systematization and critical analysis of public policies implemented in the field of sustainable economic development.

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    • Energy Transitions - Learning from the Great Depression - Chris Kennedy, JUN 20 

      Abstract

      As societies wrestle with an energy transition to a low carbon future, this presentation looks back for lessons from Great Depression of the 1930s. Using new methods of biophysical economics, we can understand the Depression as a painful episode in the socio-technological transition from a coal/railroad regime to one based on hydrocarbons, motor vehicles and electricity. The beginning – the Great Crash of October 1929 – corresponded with drastic cuts in oil prices and announcement of oil supply certainty, following discovery of huge oilfields in the US Southwest. The Depression principally centred on a change from railroads to motor-vehicle based transportation, but was long and drawn-out due to the hegemonic power that the railroads held over the US economy.

      Biography

      Chris is the Director of the Industrial Ecology program at the University of Victoria. He has 25 years of experience working on greenhouse gas accounting and abatement strategies for global cities, national governments and multi-national institutions. Chris is a member of UVic’s Institute for Integrated Energy Systems, a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering; and a former President of the International Society for Industrial Ecology.

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  • 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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    • The challenges of building electrified heating systems and the potential role of high volume heat storage - Markku Ylonen , nov 30

      Abstract

      The heating sector, including residential and industrial heating, represents about 40 % of global CO2 emissions. Most of this heat is produced using combustion technologies. The increased electrification rate of the energy network is a sought to reduce heating related emissions, as wind and solar offer up to 90 % reduction of CO2 emissions per energy unit. This means that combustion in industry, homes, and in centralised heating plants is to be replaced with equipment that turns electricity into heat. In individual homes, electric heaters and especially heat pumps are efficient in doing this. Heat pumps work well when the temperature difference between heat source and user is not much over 50 Celsius. Industrial heating on the other hand is typically high in temperature, ranging from 150 to 2000 Celsius. Combustion-based technologies are adept at providing such temperatures, but none of them truly offer any solutions to the current climate crisis. Waste and side-product combustion makes sense, but most of the heat in the future should come from non-combustion sources. Turning electricity to high temperature heat requires resistive heaters. Increasing solar and wind to reduce energy-related emissions is not straightforward, even when the unit price of energy produced from them is already often low enough. Locally, or in the electric grid scale, the amount of transferred energy increases dramatically. The weather-dependent energy sources induce fluctuation in the electric grid, and production peaks often fail to meet demand peaks. There are at least two ways to go: either significantly increase the transfer capabilities domestically and cross-border, or to add local and grid-level energy storages to the system. Heat storages offer a cost-efficient way to store energy in the GWh scale, which is required to properly balance a wind and solar dominated energy grid. Bulk mediums, such as sand or industry and mining by-products can be efficient in storing energy at low cost and at temperature levels sufficient for most industry. This talk concentrates on the challenges of building electricity dependent heating systems, their effect to national and international grids, and on the high temperature and high-volume heat storages in providing answers to some of the issues.

      Biography

      Markku Ylönen is the CTO and Co-founder of Polar Night Energy, which is a Finnish Start-up in its commercialization phase. Polar Night Energy has developed a relatively low-cost, high temperature, and large-scale heat storage based on a solid medium and high-power resistive heating, enabling peak-shaving of significant energy amounts. Markku Ylönen finished his PhD for Tampere University and Université Grenoble Alpes in 2020, and he studied Power Plant Engineering for his master’s degree granted in 2016. He studied thermodynamics and flow dynamics and sought to use the knowledge rather in solving the climate crisis than designing better combustion-based power plants. Markku Ylönen founded Polar Night Energy with Tommi Eronen in 2018.

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    • how to be human in a warming world - under the sky we make - Kim nicholas, Dec 7

      Abstract

      Nicholas explores finding purpose in a warming world, combining her scientific expertise and her lived, personal experience in a way that seems fresh and deeply urgent: Agonizing over the climate costs of visiting loved ones overseas, how to find low-carbon love on Tinder, and even exploring her complicated family legacy involving supermarket turkeys.

      In her book Under the Sky We Make, Nicholas does for climate science what Michael Pollan did more than a decade ago for the food on our plate: offering a hopeful, clear-eyed guide to effecting real change, starting in our own lives. Saving ourselves from climate apocalypse will require radical shifts within each of us, to effect real change in our society and culture. But it can be done. It requires, Dr. Nicholas argues, belief in our own agency and value, alongside a deep understanding that no one will ever hand us power–we’re going to have to seize it for ourselves.

      Biography

      Prof. Kimberly Nicholas is a sustainability scientist at Lund University. She is the author of UNDER THE SKY WE MAKE: How to be Human in a Warming World, and the monthly climate newsletter We Can Fix It.  She has published over 55 articles on climate and sustainability in leading peer-reviewed journals, and her research has been featured in outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, USA Today, Buzzfeed and more.

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    • Supporting environmental protection when you can afford it - tobias bohmelt, Jan 25

      Abstract

      Individuals' political ideology is among the most robust determinants of environmental beliefs, with people holding left-wing views being generally more in favor of "green" policies. We explore the scope conditions of this effect, focusing on personal economic conditions. Distinguishing between willingness and opportunity factors, it is argued that the positive effect of left-wing ideology on public support for environmental protection is more strongly pronounced when individuals can actually afford to pay for it. We test the theory using the German Longitudinal Election Study (GLES): the analyses provide strong and robust evidence in line with our expectations. This research adds to our understanding of the role of political ideology and economic circumstances in environmental public-opinion formation, we shed light on the interactive influence of self-interest and political predisposition in this context, and there are implications for the debate surrounding the environmental Kuznets curve.

      Biography

      Tobias Böhmelt is a professor of government at the University of Essex. His research focuses on international relations and comparative politics. His work has been published in journals such as the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, the European Journal of Political Research, International Studies Quarterly, World Politics, International Organization, Comparative Political Studies, Nature Sustainability, and Nature Climate Change, among others. He is also one of the editors of the British Journal of Political Science.

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    • A green on green dilemma: the negative environmental impacts of wind energy production and what to do about it, Fiona Marshall Feb 1

      Abstract

      Fiona will talk about the challenges for biodiversity, and especially bats, posed by rapid wind energy development and consider what needs to be done for wind energy to become a truly environmentally friendly technology.

      Biography

      Fiona Mathews is professor of Environmental Biology in Life Sciences at Sussex and chair of Mammal Conservation Europe. She led the UK’s assessment of the impact of wind energy on bat conservation for Defra, and co-authored the mitigation guidelines with the Statutory Nature Conservation Organisations. She is co-ordinating the scientific advice delivered to European governments by the United Nation’s Environment Programme’s EuroBATs committee.

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    • Scaling up wind energy for Net Zero 2050 - economic, societal and material challenges, Ben Backwell 8 Feb

      Abstract

      Major global energy agencies such as the IEA and IRENA have assigned a central role to the wind energy industry in achieving Net Zero targets, with wind technology becoming the single largest source of electricity by 2050 in their Paris compliant scenarios.

      For the wind industry, this represents a massive increase in installations and its industrial capacity to reach 8TW to 8.3TW of cumulative installations by 2050, more than 10 fold existing capacity of c.800GW and requiring a 3X to 4X increase in annual installations.

      Growing agreement among governments around the need to implement these NZ scenarios could be seen at the COP26 Summit in Glasgow. However, it is clear that current policy and market frameworks do not put the world on a trajectory consistent with Net Zero, leading to a growing “capacity gap” between ambition and reality. In the view of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), it is also clear that – even if governments move quickly to create Paris compliant NDCs and energy plans, the economic, material and political/social implications of a massive scale up in renewables and an accelerated transition have not been adequately recognised or understood. And a continued failure to understand and address these issues poses a serious threat to the Energy Transition.

      In this lecture, GWEC CEO Ben Backwell will give an overview of the major challenges on the path to Net Zero relating to energy, and to renewable energy in particular. As well as try and identify the major risks – both current and emerging, he will signpost some tentative ideas around how society can start to better identify and address the challenges ahead.

      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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    • Cancelled due to ucu strikes

       

    • Cancelled due to ucu strikes

       

    • Cancelled due to ucu strikes

       

    • Industrial Decarbonisation: where does it come from, where might it go? Marc Hudson 8 Mar

      Abstract

      Over the last 30 years the UK Government has, usually reluctantly, set emissions reductions targets of increasing ambition. From 2008 the goal was an 80% reduction in UK production-based emissions by 2050 on a 1990 baseline. Anecdotally, that 20% gap enabled sectors the chance to think they would be able to continue with more or less Business As Usual. However, in mid-2019, the goal shifted to net-zero by 2050. This has concentrated the minds of government and industry, especially sectors such as steel, glass, ceramics and other ‘hard to abate’ sectors.

      In March 2021, while abandoning its Industrial Strategy, the government released an Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy, which envisages a geographical cluster approach, with 7 identified clusters in England, Wales and Scotland.

      In this presentation Marc Hudson will

      A) outline the IDRIC project he and Matthew Lockwood are working on, that looks at the politics of industrial decarbonisation policy

      B) explain the processual approach they are taking to the first part of this – an examination of how five overlapping policy domains – climate, energy, industrial strategy, regional strategy, innovation strategy.- came to be spoken of in the same sentence

      C) share some initial findings

      D) offer reflections on how industrial decarbonisation will be shaped by the policy histories and the ongoing mobilisation of political, economic and cultural interests at sub-national, national and international levels.

      Biography

      Marc Hudson is a research fellow at the University of Sussex. In his long-distant mis-spent youth he worked as an aid worker in Mozambique and Angola, and as physiotherapist, specialising in amputee rehabilitation, in the NHS. His PhD, at the Sustainable Consumption Institute/MIOIR of University of Manchester ended up being an examination of incumbent political strategies in sustainability transitions (examining resistance to carbon pricing in Australia from 1989 to 2012). He has been published in Environmental Politics (he currently manages the twitter account and website for that journal -@Env_Pol) and Energy Research & Social Science and other journals.

      He was co-founder of the activist group Climate Emergency Manchester, and blogs at marchudson.net .His current side project is All Our Yesterdays – allouryesteredays.info - 365 climate histories.

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    • JUSTNORTH - The Energy Transition and Justice in the Artic: Part 1, Anna Badyina, Roman Sidortsov & Darren McCauley 15 Mar

      Abstract

      This is part one of a two-part seminar series based on the results of JUSTNORTH, a Horizon 2020 project, and will take place on March 15 and May 3.

      Part I will focus on the barriers to the ongoing energy transition and will feature the following two presentations:

      • “Stranded Assets, Path Dependencies & Carbon Lock-in: Short/Medium/Long Term Implications of Oil & Gas Development in the Russian, Norwegian and U.S. Arctic ” by Anna Badyina and Roman Sidortsov (SPRU) and

      • “Corporate Cultures & Geopolitical Aspirations: Exploring Socio-Political Barriers to the Energy Transition in Russia & Norway” by Darren McCauley (Erasmus University of Rotterdam).

      JUSTNORTH investigates the ways in which the multitude of ethical systems that coexist in the Arctic can be used as a critical element for assessing the viability of new economic activities (including energy development) in the region. Energy development has been a major driver behind the renewed interest in the Artic. Often referred to as the “last energy frontier” the region is seen in many corporate boardrooms and government offices as an immense resource base and, thus, an opportunity for wealth creation via extraction of oil and gas. This regularly exaggerated narrative lacks both accuracy and context. The Arctic is more of an energy backyard than a frontier. In Svalbard, Norway, coal production began in the late 19th century whereas supergiant Russian Samotlor oilfield was discovered in 1965 and American Prudhoe Bay in 1968. Even though the technologies that have put oil and gas exploration and extraction in the Arctic offshore into the realm of possibility are novel, the reasoning for and rationalisation of such activities are over a century old. In addition, there is a voluminous cache of historic data on the positive and negative impacts of such activities, as well as potential benefits and risks that they pose.

      Biographies

      Anna Badyina is a human geographer with research and policy expertise in urban and sustainability studies. She is particularly interested in the relationships between spatial practices, on the one hand, and social, economic and sustainability transitions, on the other. This research interest has focused on analysing topics such as urban, housing and spatial planning policy, gentrification, informal settlements, post-industrial restructuring and community mobilisation practices. Lately, she worked with peripheral, post-industrial communities to better understand their multiple disadvantages and how they can be remedied in practice.

      Roman Sidortsov has a diverse international background as an educator, researcher, consultant, and practicing attorney. He has developed and taught law and policy courses ranging from Renewable Energy and Alternative Fuels to Administrative Law at Vermont Law School, Irkutsk State Academy of Law and Economics in Russia, and Marlboro College Graduate School’s MBA in Managing for Sustainability program.

      Darren McCauley is Chair in the Management of International Social Challenges (MISoC) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.  Darren McCauley is full professor in the Management of International Social Challenges at Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). He is also academic director of the Erasmus Initiative and strategic research pillar Global Social Challenges (GSC).

      Watch the recording

    • Backlash to climate policy, James Patterson mar 29

      Abstract

      Domestic climate change politics scholarship focuses on explaining policy action/nonaction within and across countries, but less attention is given to explaining adverse counteraction where policy action is taken but later rejected. For example, while pushback, policy repeals, and social mobilizations against climate action have certainly attracted the attention (and consternation) of scholars in recent years, such counteractions tend to be treated as aberrations or unintended consequences. But counteraction should also be studied as a dependent variable, particularly given the growing and often varying experiences of post-adoption climate politics in advanced democracies over the last decade. Backlash to coercive or ‘hard’ climate policy (i.e. regulatory and economic policy that imposes mandatory requirements and/or sanctions) is a particular challenge because such policy is likely to be required to meet ambitious global climate targets but may provoke strong resistance. Backlash involves an abrupt and forceful reaction by a significant number of actors within a political community (e.g. mass publics, political elites, organized groups) seeking to reverse introduced climate policy, often through extraordinary means that transgress established political procedures and norms. Such reactions may attack not only policy substance, but also the underlying political authority of those involved in its formulation. Understanding why and how backlash occurs is a key challenge in domestic climate politics, and beyond. In this seminar, James will discuss recent work on the politics of backlash to climate policy under the ERC-funded project: “Climate backlash: Contentious reactions to policy action (BACKLASH)” being conducted at Utrecht University.

      Biography

      James Patterson is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Governance group of the Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development at Utrecht University. He works on the policy and institutional dynamics of climate action and sustainability transformations.

      Watch the recording

    • Adoption of Smart Energy Technologies in Residential Buildings: The Case of Denmark, Joy Billanes 26 Apr

      Abstract

      Buildings (e.g., residential, commercial, and industrial) share 40% of the total global energy consumption and are responsible for 30% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2021, nearly 2.75 million Danish residential buildings were responsible for 30% of Denmark’s energy consumption. In this regard, energy consumption as a primary source of greenhouse gas emissions has become one of the main priorities by many organizations worldwide. For instance, Denmark committed to reduce 70% GHGs emission by 2030 by exploring the potential of renewable energy resources. However, the main concern in the future is not only to produce more renewable energy but also to reduce energy consumption. As the global economy and consumers’ demands change rapidly, effective ways to reduce energy consumption and improve energy efficiency are always desired. Various studies have proved that deploying smart energy technologies (SETs) can help reduce energy consumption and improve energy efficiency in buildings. However, the adoption of these technologies remains low compared to the overall needs. Smart energy technology users have different abilities and resources for smart energy technology adoption; therefore, understanding user behaviour is essential. This study employs mixed methods as research strategy to examine the user’s level of awareness and willingness to adopt smart energy technologies, and to identify and explore the factors that influence the user’s decision to adopt the smart energy technologies in residential buildings.

      Biography

      Joy Billanes, a PhD fellow at Aarhus University, Denmark. Joy’s research interests include user behaviour, technology adoption, smart energy technologies and sustainable buildings. Her PhD project focuses on smart energy technology adoption.

      Watch the recording

    • JUSTNORTH - The Energy Transition and Justice in the Artic: Part 2, Chukwuka Monyei, Anna Badyina & Timothy Scarlett May 3

      Abstract

      This is part two of a two-part seminar series based on the results of JUSTNORTH, a Horizon 2020 project, which will take place on March 15 and May 3. Watch part one here.

      Part II of the series will focus on the opportunities for the energy transition in the High North, as well as the challenges that come with these opportunities. The following three presentations will comprise the second seminar:

      • “Sustainable Digitisation & Resilient Communities: Low Carbon Data Centres in Greenland, Iceland & Norway” by Chukwuka Monyei (SPRU)

      • “Renewable and Ethical?: Motivation for Wind Power Resistance in Sápmi & the Norwegian Arctic” Ragnhild Freng Dale (Western Norway Research Institute)

      • “Liabilities into Assets—Reviving Post-Industrial Communities Through Repurposing Industrial Infrastructures in the Swedish Arctic” by Anna Badyina (SPRU) and Timothy Scarlett (Michigan Technological University)

      JUSTNORTH investigates the ways in which the multitude of ethical systems that coexist in the Arctic can be used as a critical element for assessing the viability of new economic activities (including energy development) in the region. Energy development has been a major driver behind the renewed interest in the Artic. Often referred to as the “last energy frontier” the region is seen in many corporate boardrooms and government offices as an immense resource base and, thus, an opportunity for wealth creation via extraction of oil and gas. This regularly exaggerated narrative lacks both accuracy and context. The Arctic is more of an energy backyard than a frontier. In Svalbard, Norway, coal production began in the late 19th century whereas supergiant Russian Samotlor oilfield was discovered in 1965 and American Prudhoe Bay in 1968. Even though the technologies that have put oil and gas exploration and extraction in the Arctic offshore into the realm of possibility are novel, the reasoning for and rationalisation of such activities are over a century old. In addition, there is a voluminous cache of historic data on the positive and negative impacts of such activities, as well as potential benefits and risks that they pose.

      Biographies

      Chukwuka Monyei is a research fellow at SPRU, working on the EU-funded project named JUSTNORTH (Toward Just, Ethical and Sustainable Arctic Economies, Environments and Societies - https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/869327). Prior to joining SPRU, Chukwuka worked as a research fellow on DBEIS funded projects at the Energy and Environment Institute (EEI), University of Hull and the Bristol Business School (BBS), University of the West of England. His current research interests centre around Energy Justice, Value Sensitive Design, Low-Carbon Energy Transitions and Sustainability.

      Anna Badyina is a human geographer with research and policy expertise in urban and sustainability studies. She is particularly interested in the relationships between spatial practices, on the one hand, and social, economic and sustainability transitions, on the other. This research interest has focused on analysing topics such as urban, housing and spatial planning policy, gentrification, informal settlements, post-industrial restructuring and community mobilisation practices. Lately, she worked with peripheral, post-industrial communities to better understand their multiple disadvantages and how they can be remedied in practice.

      Timothy Scarlett is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology in the Industrial Heritage and Archaeology (IH&A) Program in the Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Technological University. His primary interest is in industrial workplaces, examining potteries, foundries, railyards, gristmills, smithies, and carpentry and machine shops. As a member of the JUSTNORTH team and Michigan Tech’s Keweenaw Energy Transition Lab, Tim is exploring ways that industrial archaeological fieldwork creates space for sustained public participatory engagement in planning, helping communities discuss issues of industrial heritage and social and energy justice.

      Watch the recording

    • Renewable energy COmplementarity and Multi-Actor Involvement - Findings from a Systematic Review, Natalia Bekirsky 10 May

      Abstract

      Although complementarity achieved by combining multiple renewable energy sources (RES) is an important method to increase shares of RES, it is often overlooked in policy prescriptions supporting an energy transition. Complementarity can be implemented by multiple actors, however there has been little attention to which actors are involved, and their roles. A systematic review was conducted to provide an overview of the state of academic literature on the topic of combinations of multiple RES and the involvement of multiple associated actors. The sample included 78 articles using a range of methodologies to analyze varying combinations of wind, solar, bioenergy, hydro, geothermal, and ocean energy, alongside combinations of traditional, new, and supporting energy actors. Studies included contextualized (location specific) agent-based, techno-economic, economic, business model, and qualitative analyses, and decontextualized reviews, agent-based, and optimization models. Multi-actor complementarity is being addressed by diverse disciplines in diverse contexts globally, across a range of geographic scales. The majority of studies focus on solar-wind, although more diverse RES combinations were found in contextualized studies. New actors usually participate alongside traditional system actors. More attention to supporting actors is required. Findings highlight the need for further research beyond the technical benefits of combining multiple RES, to explore the roles of various actors. This can be accomplished by incorporating more context in studies, for example, using the substantial existing body of data and research, and by including a greater range of RES combinations, and incorporating more perspectives of associated actors.

      Biography

      Natalia Bekirsky completed her Masters of Environmental Studies at York University, and completed her Honours Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Archaeology at the University of Toronto. As part of her Masters studies, she joined Dr. Christina Hoicka's Social Exergy and Energy Lab, where she worked on the research topic of complementarity of renewable energy sources and multiple actors, and had the privilege of also collaborating with Dr. Marie Claire Brisbois and Dr. Luis Ramirez Camargo on this research. She now works in energy policy, and lives in Toronto, Canada.

      Watch the recording

  • 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.

      Watch the recording.

    • 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).

      Watch the recording.

    • 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.

      Watch the recording.

    • 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.

      Watch the recording.

    • 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.

      Watch the recording.

    • 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.

      Watch the recording.

    • 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.

      Watch the recording.

    • 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.

      Watch the recording

    • 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.

      Watch the recording.

    • 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.

      Watch the recording.

    • 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.

      Watch the recording.

    • 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.

      Watch the recording.

    • 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).

      Watch the recording.

    • 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).

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    • 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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