Energy Policy in the Age of Climate Change: Recent experience andchallenges ahead

  • Start  Thursday 23 Jan 2020 5:00pm
  • Finish    Thursday 23 Jan 2020 6:59pm
Portrait of Jim Watson
Jim Watson is Professor of Energy Policy at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources

This lecture will reflect on changes in UK energy policy since the early 2000s, when the first long term emissions target was proposed in the 2003 Energy White Paper. The UK is already well on the way to meeting that target, which required a 60% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050. In the meantime, many changes have affected the energy sector: climate science has highlighted the need for more urgency and ambition; technologies that were previously expensive have fallen in cost; politics at home and abroad are subject to increasing uncertainty and turmoil – including the UK’s relationship with Europe and the rest of the world. Despite progress with reducing emissions, there is still a long way to go to meet the new target of a net zero energy system and economy by 2050. Thelecture will discuss some of the successful policies that have driven emissions reductions so far, mainly in electricity. It will also highlight therange of difficult challenges policy makers will need to address if the net zero target is to be met.


Jim Watson is Professor of Energy Policy at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources. He joined UKERC as Research Director in February 2013, and has been UKERC’s Director since January 2015.

He trained as an engineer at Imperial College London and has a PhD in science and technology policy from University of Sussex. Before joining UCL in 2018, he spent 20 years at SPRU,University of Sussex – including as Director of the Sussex Energy Group from 2008 to 2013.

His research has focused on range of energy, climate change and innovation policy issues. His recent outputs include co-editedbooks: New Challenges in Energy Security: The UK in a multipolar world (Palgrave, 2013; with Catherine Mitchell) and Global Energy: Issues, Potentials and Policy Implications (Oxford University Press, 2015; with Paul Ekins and Mike Bradshaw).

He frequently advises UK government departments and other national and international organisations. He was an advisor tothe UK Government Office for Science Foresight project on energy (2007-08), and has been a Specialist Adviser with three UK Parliamentary committees. He has extensive international experience, including over ten years working on energy scenarios and energy innovation policies in China and India. In 2008, he spent three months as a Visiting Scholar at the Kennedy Schoolof Government, Harvard University. Jim is a judge for the Queens Awards,a member of the BEIS fossil fuel price assumptions panel and a member of the strategic advisory group for the Global Challenges Research Fund.

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