South Bank, London. Photo by Steph Ferguson

How does energy research have to change during a climate emergency?

22 April, 2020

Reading time: 2 minutes

In the UK, the Government is now committed to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To reach such a target, everything will have to change – and this includes how we do energy research. Yet, so far, we are doing research as usual.

All over the world, national and local governments, higher education institutes, industry bodies and other organisations have declared a climate emergency. In the UK, the Government is now committed to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To reach such a target, everything will have to change – and this includes how we do energy research. Yet, so far, we are doing research as usual.

Prof. Tadj Oreszczyn, Dr Gesche Huebner, and Prof. David Shipworth discuss in a working paper how energy research needs to change in order to support achieving net-zero by 2050. They suggest that energy research needs to become faster, more ambitious, more applied and impact-orientated, more robust, and more focused on collaboration than competition. This means amongst other things that they see a greater focus on socio-technical research, that funding decisions need to be made more quickly, and that less focus needs to be put on traditional metrics of success and instead more on impact and deployment. It also means that researchers need to examine their own research portfolio and ideas critically to see if they are delivering real and rapid impact.

The paper, How should energy researchers respond to a climate emergency? is available on Figshare. In addition, Gesche gave a presentation based on this paper at the recent meeting of the Energy Demand Research Network (EDRN), organised by CREDS.

Considering the impact of COVID-19, Tadj says:

The scientific response to COVID-19 will undoubtedly teach us important lessons regarding our response to the climate emergency. Although time scales and impacts are different, energy researchers will need to develop new ways of supporting governments tackling the climate emergency.

Banner photo credit: Steph Ferguson

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