Fossil fuel consumption: a dialogue between activists and researchers

Thursday 1 October, 2015, 4.0-7.0 pm
Room Chadwick G07, Chadwick Building, University College London,
Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

The Fossil fuel consumption: a dialogue between activists and researchers seminar will continue dialogue between academics researching fossil fuel consumption, and activists and campaigners aiming to cut it.

The seminar, to be held at University College, will focus on questions such as: what are the underlying reasons for the high levels of fossil fuel consumption, which are the most significant causes of global warming? What say do communities have in how fossil fuels are consumed? And what part can they play in the transition away from fossil fuels?

In the run-up to the Paris summit in December, campaigners are looking for new ways to bring communities into actions on climate change. “There are conversations going on between researchers about these issues, and other conversations among activists. It’s important for both sides to listen to each other”, said Emma Hughes of Platform, which is organising the seminar along with the Energy and Governance Group at Canterbury Christ Church University.

Researchers from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies and the Science Policy Research Unit will join Anna Galkina from Platform at the event. There will be plenty of time for discussion and questions.

In December 2013, the Tyndall Centre, the UK’s leading centre for researching greenhouse gas emissions and related issues, held a “Radical Emissions Reduction conference” in an effort to draw public attention to its work.

Researchers at the centre had felt increasingly that their warnings were being ignored or pushed to one side by politicians, and that it was urgent to address the wider public. An array of NGOs were represented at that event, as well as academics from other institutions. That was the start of a potentially fruitful conversation. it is hoped the 1 October seminar will make a modest contribution to continuing it.

Who can attend?

Anyone who is interested.

Attendance is free. To register, so that we have an idea of numbers, please email Shayne Halfpenny-Ray at [email protected]

Enquiries/information from Simon Pirani at [email protected]

Some of the topics to be addressed:

■ In the rich world, energy is consumed by households (in cars, heating, electricity, embedded in products, and so on) – but the process by which fossil fuels are turned into that energy is controlled by big companies via big technological systems. How could communities play a bigger part in deciding how, and whether, this happens?

■ In developing countries, many communities have no access to basic energy resources (more than 1.3 billion people have no electricity, and more than twice that number have no clean cooking facilities). How can such communities get access to energy, at a time when fossil fuel consumption needs to fall, due to global warming? How can communities – as distinct from governments and companies – have a say in this?


Introduction, 4.0 pm
Session 1, 4.15 pm. How communities consume energy: the state of the research
■ William Lamb (Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester): “Human development and energy consumption in a climate-constrained world: what the past says about the future”
■ Simon Pirani (Canterbury Christ Church University/ Oxford Institute for Energy Studies): “The global drivers of fossil fuel consumption. Is the IPCC looking at them the right way?”

Session 2, 5.15 pm. Communities in the transition away from fossil fuels
■ Anna Galena (Platform London): “Energy beyond neoliberalism”
■ Lucy Baker (SPRU/ University of Sussex): “Financing renewables in South Africa and the impact on community involvement”

Summary and forward-looking proposals, 6.30 pm.

Refreshments, 6.45 pm

Note. The seminar will be run in an inclusive, cooperative way, to ensure people become aware of each other’s research. The opening contributions will be brief, and there will be plenty of time for more discussion. Let us know if you would like e.g. to introduce your research during discussion.