For this, our fourth series of British Academy Debates, the Academy focused on one of the world’s most complex and divisive issues: energy and the environment. Held in the run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) in late 2015, our purpose was to explore the momentous changes in the way we generate and use energy. Across the world, there is growing concern over the impact of energy systems on human health and the environment. There is now an urgent need for discussions about how we can increase standards of living and tackle poverty, at a time when there is strong growth in the world economy, an increasing population and intense urbanisation. Globally, there is an increasing awareness of the risks posed by fossil fuels, and particularly of their contribution to climate change and local air pollution. There is also a need for a rapid transition to alternative sources of energy. But concerns about managing radical change, including who might win or lose from such a shift, and the practical challenges of abandoning the traditional consumption of oil, coal and gas, have made energy one of the most contentious areas of public policy in many countries. For this reason, the British Academy teamed up with the Royal Society, with support from the Climate Change Collaboration and Prospect, to allow audiences in England, Wales and Scotland to listen to experts’ views and have their say about one of the most important issues facing our generation.
Number of pages: 12
Author: Nicholas Stern, Sian Ferguson, BA Policy team, Prospect