EUA Energy & Environment Platform

Welcome address by Douglas Halliday

27 March 2019

I am delighted to have received the important appointment of new Chair of the EUA Energy & Environment Platform (EUA-EPUE). We are actively working to take the platform to a new level, building on the many successes of the UNI-SET project, notably with the launch of EUA’s first ever event on energy and the environment.

I would like to acknowledge the substantial contribution of the outgoing Chair, Torbjørn Digernes, from Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Under his wise and effective leadership, the platform has grown in size, reach and influence.

In our efforts to build on this legacy, we will focus on the critical link between energy consumption and the impact on the environment. There is compelling, robust scientific evidence of the human impact on the environment, including climate change – one of the major consequences of the ever-increasing global energy consumption. Last year, the special IPCC report warned of warming beyond 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The report presents stark warnings and indicates that a collective response could mitigate the worst effects. So far, the response of global leaders has been low-key, and a few have indicated that they do not accept the report’s conclusions. Also last year, the school strike for climate, initiated by a Swedish school pupil, began to spread globally. On 1 March, The Guardian published a letter from these activists, providing thought-provoking reading from the youth of our countries.

Universities have much to offer in this field. They conduct research and generate new knowledge and understanding. Universities educate and train the next generation of learners and are custodians of information and knowledge. They have a critical role in the debate and in finding the lasting solutions that our young people wish to see. Universities work across political and geographical boundaries, as research and education are global activities. Universities also have strong and growing links with industry, citizens groups, political leaders and many other organisations. They are well placed to provide robust evidence that our political leaders need.

The EUA Energy & Environment Platform will provide opportunities for universities engaged in research and education activities to share experiences and approaches. We can learn from each other and continue to adapt our education, training and research activities to ensure that we are developing the knowledge and producing skilled professionals for the future.

The platform has a programme of events that will provide opportunities to engage in the debate and contribute to a more sustainable future. One of the key recommendations in the UNI-SET Action Agenda is a greater need for scientists, engineers, social scientists and humanities researchers to work together. Energy is a complex multifaceted problem. We need to understand how different societies engage with energy and different energy technologies. We need to understand what motivates different groups of people in making choices with energy implications. We need to develop whole energy system models and theories with societal dimensions.

I encourage you to engage with the platform. Please, come and share your views, insights and proposed solutions to the challenge we all face. It is my particular pleasure to invite you to the first EUA Energy & Environment Cluster Event, which will be held in Durham, UK. It is my hope that the activities of the platform will result in a better future for us all.

Douglas Halliday

Chair EUA Energy & Environment Platform