The societal discussion of climate change has moved on rapidly in the last two years. The 2018 IPCC special report on global warming of 1.5 degrees reinforced the scale of the global challenge, particularly for the energy sector. Cultural movements and social media have driven climate change into the news agenda and popular consciousness. A whole new lexicon has quickly emerged: ‘global heating’, ‘the climate emergency’, ‘extinction rebellion’ and the phrase ‘net zero’ itself. In the UK, legally binding carbon budgets have stood firm and been reinforced. The CCC’s advice on net zero may prove to be a turning point in forcing climate change into the heart of policy making across government. The UK’s subsequent adoption of net zero emissions as an official timebound target has already proved internationally influential.
But actually delivering net zero will require social change, alongside a revolution in technologies and business models across all parts of the economy. The move to zero carbon energy will need to be part of a broader societal transformation that reconfigures technologies, markets, investment and policies across energy and related sectors (e.g. transport and construction). We will need to enable people to travel, to keep warm and stay cool, and to produce food and goods without carbon emissions. The transition to net zero will need to be done in ways that are socially acceptable and just. It will demand the mobilisation of huge volumes of capital investment but will result in positive outcomes not only for the climate, but also for the environment, the economy, health, and wellbeing.
The 2020 BIEE research conference will focus on the opportunities and challenges for economic and social policy across the energy sector, and for the business models, technologies and innovation priorities of energy producers, networks and suppliers. What are the implications of a net zero society for mobility and transport; for people’s comfort in homes and workplaces; and for industrial production and prosperity? The conference will consider international perspectives and examine the technology, economic, financial and societal challenges for net zero heat, transport and industry.
The 2020 research conference will focus on building the foundations and policies of the low carbon transition aimed at achieving a net zero carbon society in a way that is fair and just. It will address how we live, work and travel, and how policy, infrastructure and the private sector can respond to enable the transformation of heat, transport and industry.
It will examine the technology, economic, financial and societal challenges for net zero heat, transport and industry :
These three issues are highly relevant to every single one of the parallel themes and therefore do not exist as standalone themes themselves.
Business models, digitalisation and markets: heat, transport, industry, big data, automation, data protection, ownership models, regulation, market structure, decentralisation, energy as a service
Demand: future prospects, efficiency, demand reduction, flexibility, electrification
Energy and other resources: resource availability, critical materials, geopolitics, transport, security, prices
Energy production and supply: fossil fuels, electricity, ‘molecules’ (e.g. hydrogen, ammonia), heat, energy storage, carbon capture, multi-vector systems, sector coupling, flexibility
Consumers and energy publics: public attitudes and acceptance, social movements, workers, civil society organizations, consumer protection, fuel poverty
Environment and ethics: broader environmental risks and benefits; distributional justice, procedural justice, intergenerational justice, environmental justice; sustainable development goals
Finance: investment needs; funding sources; research, development and demonstration
Governance and policies: national/regional/local institutions, carbon budgets, market-based instruments, regulation, voluntary measures
Innovation: Research and development, public and private investment, new technologies, difficult to decarbonise sectors
International: leakage, consumption based emissions, border trade adjustments, export potential for low carbon technologies
Macro-economy: GDP impacts of net-zero, low-carbon industrial strategy, export markets, post-growth theories
Whole energy systems and infrastructure: multi-vector analysis, whole systems analysis (incl. socio-economic and socio-technical analysis), electricity and hydrogen networks, CO2 pipelines and storage, district heating, stranded assets, repurposing of existing infrastructure, decentralised systems.
The list is not exhaustive.