Bath Uni - UK Sustainability Energy Policy lecture

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Bath Uni - UK Sustainability Energy Policy lecture

Post by Sonny »

Hi guys,
Just thought I'd let you know about some lecture I went to today entitled '20/20 Vision: moving towards a sustainable energy policy by 2020'.

The talk was done by Dr Robert Cohen from the company called 'Energy for Sustainable Development'.

What he presented was basically a smorgasbord (what a word!) of all the problems facing humanity, and more specifically, the UK.

I'm sure everyone here is pretty well educated about the issues so I'll just breeze through the issues that he brought up in the order he did them :).

First up was Climate Change. He termed it as 'terrifying', noting that we are 'approaching a point of no return'.
He mentioned the melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, the shut down of the Gulf Stream, the release of CO2 in the Siberian Tundra as possible tipping points.
He noted that our current CO2 emissions is 9.2 (didn't catch the units lol) and our target is 3.9 by 2050.

Next up was a short introduction to Peak Oil. He gave the standard Hubbert Introduction and showed the excellent ASPO chart of when oil is expected to peak.
He didn't talk much about the consequences at this point, I think he was leaving it to the conclusion.

He then mentioned the World Population, how it has shot up 5 billion people in about 100 years. Then was a nasty graph showing two situations - one where the population stabilises at 9 billion by 2050, the second where it plummets to 1 billion (that wasn't any graph in particular, he called it a 'thought provoker')!
From this point the audience seemed sort of stunned into silence!

He then went over the UK, how our energy is supplied and where it goes.

But perhaps most importantly for those interested here, next he went over the future options. He showed us a graph of a theoretical energy replacement scheme for the next 30 so years.
With current nuclear plants being decommissioned, and coal-fired plants put out of service due to their high emissions, he theorised that the deficite would be made up by a combination of Hydroelectric power and Nuclear power.
Unfortunately these new energy sources would not be able to fully replace the power lost from old nuclear and coal until 2020, and that is only if construction starts on new age nuclear stations by 2010, and the hydroelectric scheme eventually produces 400 turbines per year!

He proposed that this deficiency in energy should be made up with energy efficiency and reduction in demand.
Improved performance in buildings (e.g. inefficient lighting, building fabric), better 'industrial motors' and 200mpg cars (which will be on the market in a few years apparently!).
Reduction in demand? Possibilities are increased Laws and Policing, Energy Rationing, a 'Carbon Tax' leading to a vast increase in energy prices (he cited 10-100 times more expensive!).

Challenges for 2050 - 0 carbon electricity grid
Electrically powered surfact transport
Less air travel
Stop developing countries burning coal

He then showed us his 2 world forecasts for the future, in 2050.

The pessimistic view -
No post-Kyoto treaty CO2 agreement
CO2 at 550ppm
Ice sheet melted
Financial system bankrupt
Quality of life around 19th century

Optimistic -
'Gaia' world treaty
CO2 at 460ppm
Oil Depletion Protocol
and strangely - Bigger GDP on average per person!

Then question time... I think people were still taking in all the negative stuff about climate change and peak oil before the discussion got going...
Some people were still wondering whether renewables only could fill the gap, some feared that countries would instead choose war over co-operation, government will never take action. All the usual questions that people first hearing about all these issues ask.

Just thought I'd share this with you because its the first time I have seen Peak Oil mentioned in a public lecture, it shows that these sort of issues are starting the hit the mainstream now!
Maybe just maybe Bath University will start to take Climate Change and Energy issues seriously now as policy!!

The next lecture done by the International Centre for the Environment will be on 10th October at Bath Uni entitled 'The Case for Personal Carbon Allowances'.
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