Category: Energy (Page 1 of 5)

A look into the pros and cons of renewable energy sources

This guest blog comes from Mason Cole, MA Politics and Contemporary History student and Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

With energy being such an important issue these days, no doubt you’ve heard of renewable energy. But what counts as renewable energy? Which energy source is best? How does it work? So many questions!

Don’t worry, here at King’s Energy we’ve got you covered. We’ve picked out the 5 main renewable energy sources and crunched them into a simple pro and con for each.

Solar Power

Let’s start with the obvious – solar power. We could all do with a little more sun, but why not make the most of the little sun we do have?

  • Pro: Low-maintenance. Once solar panels are installed, not only can they drastically increase the value of a building, but they also last for 30 years meaning you need to do little besides sit and save money on your energy!
  • Con: Unfortunately they aren’t suitable for every roof type. If your roof has slate or cedar tiles, then it may not be possible for you to install the racking necessary to mount the panels. Additionally, the initial cost of installing solar panels is fairly high.

Wind Power

I think we can all agree that wind is something we get plenty of on these shores, but just how efficient is it?

  • Pro: Space efficiency. Wind turbines actually take up fairly limited space for what they produce and new initiatives such as floating wind farms could see this increase further in years to come.
  • Con: Output is intermittent. While we do get a lot of wind in the UK, it is not 24/7, meaning wind turbines should be paired with some form of energy capture technology.

Hydropower

As an island nation we have an abundance of water, so why not consider using it to fuel our everyday lives?

  • Pro: Reliable. Usually, hydropower plants are installed near stable bodies of water meaning the supply is constant. As such, it is a good option to have when your wind turbines or solar panels are not meeting demand.
  • Con: Hydropower faces a unique set of environmental and social challenges. It can adversely impact the surrounding environment and populations by changing the course of rivers and other bodies of water, altering animal migration habits, impacting land use or even displacing local populations.

Biomass

A rather controversial one, but a good means to ensure that nothing goes to waste – or is it…?

  • Pro: Reduce waste. Biomass can make use of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of organic matter which currently sits in landfill sites.
  • Con: Space and cost requirements. Transporting and storing the waste is a costly and time-consuming process. Competition for arable land for other agricultural practices is also an issue, and the drive to create biomass farms can result in deforestation and food security issues in some regions. It is therefore crucial for bioenergy projects to be assessed against the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental.

Hydrogen

What many consider to be the silver bullet – but is hydrogen all it’s made out to be?

  • Pro: No harmful emissions! The only emission from hydrogen is clean drinking water.
  • Con: Volatility. Hydrogen needs to be stored in liquid form as it is volatile and prone to combustion. This makes it incredibly hard to store and transport.

Which of these do you think is the way forward? Let us know in the comments below.

If you’d like more information or want to get involved, email us at energy@kcl.ac.uk or head over to the King’s Sustainability Instagram.

Home energy saving tips

This guest blog comes from Mason Cole, MA Politics and Contemporary History student and Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

King’s Sustainability understands that not all have the resources to switch to renewable energy. This blog, therefore, outlines some simple and accessible ways to save energy at home. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can both switch to cheaper, fairer and more environmentally-friendly energy and support your community in doing so, check out the Citizens UK Fair Energy Campaign, as well as how student group King’s 4 Change is supporting the campaign at King’s

Ask not what your planet can do for you, ask what you can do for your planet: How to save energy from your home

Okay so let’s ignore the political reference here, the point is that you want to become more energy-efficient, but you don’t want it to cost you, right? Well, good news for you – at the King’s energy team, we’ve put our heads together and come up with five startlingly simple ways you can save energy at home. And guess what, they’re basically free!

  • Don’t have double glazing? Use clingfilm instead

No, you did not read that wrong. While of course, it is not as effective as double glazing, using clingfilm around the edges of your windows can help your house to retain heat and therefore actually save you money on your heating bill.

  • Put tin foil behind your radiators

Yes, we know, it sounds crazy but you’re here to save energy on a budget and this is the ultimate method! Aluminium is a great conductor of heat (ever tried touching your foil when it’s fresh from the oven? Don’t!) and putting it behind your radiators will allow your rooms to retain heat and stay warm for longer. You may feel silly doing it but wait for the rebate on the energy bill and it’ll all be worth it!

  • Don’t leave anything on standby

An obvious one, we know. And one that should be redundant in the UK given we have those lovely switches on our plug sockets. However, we’re all guilty of this from time-to-time. If you see an orange or red light then turn it off, and yes, that includes your phone charger!

  • Be patient

Yes, we are still talking about energy. Be patient with your thermostat. Did you know that blitzing the heating doesn’t actually turn up quicker? Set it to your desired level then relax and wait for it to catch up. Your feet will be toasty in no time.

  • DO NOT BLOCK YOUR AIRBRICKS

Oooh capitals, must be serious eh? Right. Air bricks are vital for ventilation and prevent CO2 build-up. They may not be the most attractive things in the world but if you cover your air brick you may find yourself getting very sleepy, and not in a good way.

So, there you have it! Five things you can do at home to save money and do your bit for the planet. King’s are making great progress with their energy usage, and in the spirit of lockdown, it’s time for us to play our part from home too!

If you’d like more information, or want to get involved, be sure to email us at energy@kcl.ac.uk or head over to the King’s Sustainability Instagram page.

The Ethics of Carbon Offsetting: An Interview with Dr Joachim Aufderheide

This guest blog comes from Rebecca Lindsay, BA Philosophy and Spanish student and Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

Carbon offsetting is the source of much debate in the energy world, being that it’s extremely difficult to ensure you’re offsetting correctly. This week we’ve teamed up with Dr Joachim Aufderheide from the Philosophy department to discuss all things ethics-related when it comes to offsetting our carbon emissions!

First, some background – what is carbon offsetting?

Joachim Aufderheide (JA): Through our carbon emissions, we contribute to global warming, which in turn causes much harm, especially in developing countries. It is morally wrong to harm others and/or destroy their resources. We cannot, however, simply stop emitting greenhouse gases (to which CO2 counts). So, in order to cancel out the harm we do, we can offset our emissions. I cause a certain amount of CO2 to be emitted during a certain period of time. This CO2 will stay in the atmosphere for a very long time. Now, if I cause the same amount of CO2 to be reduced in that timeframe, I have offset my CO2, and thereby have mitigated the harm I do.

How do we do ‘offsetting’ in a meaningful way, with the most impact, while not undermining the emphasis on carbon reduction?

JA: First off, we need to be clear about what ‘reducing’ means. By, for example, planting trees, we create carbon sinks that bind the CO2 we emit. However, this is not a good strategy because when the trees die, the carbon will re-enter the atmosphere. It takes millions of years to move carbon from the atmosphere back into the so-called passive carbon pool, below ground as oil. So, when we offset, we need to support measures to prevent carbon from being taken from the passive carbon pool and transferred into the active one, i.e., the atmosphere. In plain language, we need to support reducing emissions on the one hand and improving renewable energy on the other.

Second, it must be clear that offsetting is a temporary measure: even if we offset our CO2 emissions, emitting at the same rates is not sustainable. The carbon market will become more and more saturated: the easy and cost-effective projects to reduce carbon emissions will have been completed at some point. Then the spotlight shines back on us who have not changed our emissions but chose instead to pay other people to reduce their emissions. So, to avoid the worst harm that we cause through global warming, we should not only offset our emissions but also reduce our emissions.

Third, I think that many of us are committed to reducing our carbon footprint. But many of us don’t know what our footprint is, and what we should do. I wonder whether making the carbon cost clear, for example, by labelling our purchases, would be helpful.

How can we most powerfully make the case for offsetting when it will involve increased spend at a financially difficult time?

JA: It might help to put things into perspective. Compared to previous generations, we are not in financial difficulties. We have become more and more wealthy so that many are sufficiently wealthy now to make ends meet and live reasonably well. While economic development is important, we must not forget the goal: to enable people to live and to live well. If we exploit our planet too much, these goals will become increasingly more difficult to attain.

What kind of monitoring is (or should be) in place to ensure that there are actual carbon reductions in the offsets that we may purchase, and are some areas of offsetting ‘better’ or ‘worse’ for this?

JA: Offsetting presents some problems. First, it is unclear whether we buy genuine offsets. For instance, if a project is funded through offset funds, it would genuinely offset emissions only if it would not have happened otherwise. But this is not always clear. If a country is sufficiently interested in, let’s say, a wind farm to have it built as an offsetting project, then it seems likely that there would have been other ways to realise this project.

Second, and relatedly, some projects are double-counted, both as offsetting emissions and as part of a country’s effort to reduce emissions.

Third, it is not always easy to measure the impact of the project. Buying cleaner and more efficient stoves for communities in the developing world only offset our emissions if they are actually used. But this is not always the case. So, it would be good if projects were not one-off and, at the very least, we should collect data to determine the efficiency of projects. This would allow us to get a more accurate account of how much different projects tend to offset.

Finally, projects that do not require people to change the way they cook or do other daily things might not only be more effective but also less ‘invasive’: if we don’t change our ways, why should they?

What are the risks for developing nations when agreeing to offset UK carbon emissions?

JA: Some offsetting projects mean well, but don’t do good. For instance (monoculture) tree plantations can have bad effects on wildlife, soil and water. Building a dam often comes with complex political questions about access to water further down the river and this can lead to conflicts. Another host of problems surrounds the rights of indigenous people who might live where the projects are to be located.

Where in the world are offsets most valuable and what kinds of activities are most effective?

JA: The utilitarian argument that we can do better for the world by focusing on developing countries is rather strong. It is expensive for us to cut down our carbon emissions. So, instead of that, we should use the money we save to fund projects in developing countries, thereby offsetting more CO2 than if we had merely focused on reducing our emissions. If indeed we invest the money so saved in addressing climate matters, we are not self-indulgent.

How truly ethical are the offsetting schemes with a UN Gold standard?

JA: I am no expert in this, but the Gold Standard takes many factors into consideration that were ignored in the past, and to some extent still are by other offsetting standards. For example, child labour, the indigenous peoples affected, labour rights, the impacts on water. It seeks to benefit the local population as well as cutting down on carbon emissions. However, like all the other standards, the Gold Standard allows the people running the projects to collect their own data. It would be an improvement if there would be independent monitoring.

What valuation should we be using when choosing between offsetting schemes?

JA: As far as I can see, most projects certified by the Gold Standard seem genuinely beneficial.

What pitfalls should we be looking for?

JA: Perhaps the biggest pitfall is complacency. Even if we’re offsetting our emissions, this does not mean we’re home and dry. We must be aware that it is a temporary measure that bridges the way towards a more environmentally conscious use of our resources. We must commit to reducing our carbon emissions, not only the emissions elsewhere in the world.

Should we (King’s) set up our own scheme?

JA: I’m not sure. I’d think we should offset and reduce our emissions. But we as an educational institution should seek to do more about the education that’s necessary to change the behaviour of emitters: individual people, groups, and organisations. It would be amazing if we could set up a scheme with schools on environmental education.

 

Thanks to Dr Aufderheide for answering our questions!

If you would like more information on how we use energy at King’s, or want to get involved, head over to the King’s Sustainability Instagram page or email the energy team at energy@kcl.ac.uk. We’d love to hear from you.

 

What is energy?

This guest blog comes from Rebecca Lindsay, BA Philosophy and Spanish student and Sustainability Champion Assistants (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

The world of energy often feels like a world of jargon. Emissions, baselines, decarbonisation – what does it all actually mean?

In the most basic terms, energy is “the ability to do work.” So when we talk about energy, we’re talking about electricity, gas, diesel and other types of power. King’s energy is also responsible for managing King’s water usage.

When reducing your carbon emissions, it’s important to consider energy efficiency. Essentially, the more efficient an appliance is, the less energy it uses to do the same amount of work. Energy = Power x Time. Some quick GCSE physics revision for you there!

But higher energy usage doesn’t always mean less efficient. It’s also important to change where we get our energy from – to decarbonise. Decarbonisation, simply put, aims to reduce our economy’s reliance on carbon and fossil fuels. Solar, wind and hydropower are all examples of renewable alternatives.

There are lots of benefits to switching to renewable energy sources – not just for your bank account! Here are just a few:

  • It creates more jobs.
  • It diversifies energy sources, meaning less importing and a stronger economy.
  • It’s cheaper! Carbon is a finite resource and increasingly expensive, whereas renewable energy is more widely available.
  • Most importantly, it reduces our impact on the planet and helps slow global warming.

Long story short: save money, save the planet.

How to we use energy at King’s?

As a research-heavy university, we use a lot of energy. So it’s up to us to be responsible with where we get it from.

Our shift to renewables is well under way. Since October 2017, all electricity directly purchased by King’s has come from 100% UK wind energy.

Both Great Dover Street Apartments and Champion Hill, two of King’s residences, have solar panels. Not only saving money, but also reducing our impact on the planet.

In Autumn 2019, King’s was one of 20 universities to sign a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with onshore wind farms in Scotland and Wales, the first deal of its kind in the country!

Universities also make lots of investments, often in fossil fuels. King’s, however, has committed to divest from all fossil fuels by the end of 2022, and to invest 40% of its funds in investments with socially responsible benefits by 2025.

We’re also developing a Climate Action Strategy alongside the King’s Climate Action Network to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2025.

As you can see, there’s lots to be done. With target deadlines fast approaching, the emphasis on clean energy has never been greater. It’s a great time to get involved! For information on how to support us, email us over at energy@kcl.ac.uk.

Energy at King’s

This guest blog comes from Mason Cole, MA Politics and Contemporary History student and Rebecca Lindsay, BA Philosophy and Spanish student, who are both volunteering as Sustainability Champion Assistants (SCA’s), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

Introduction to King’s Energy

Welcome to King’s Energy Department! We’re excited to be working alongside the Sustainability Team to make King’s a more environmentally-friendly place. We have so many projects in the works – and much more to come – so keep your eyes peeled for updates.

Who are we?

Julie Allen is King’s Energy Manager. She manages the utilities budgets and contracts, and leads on delivering, updating and monitoring the University’s Carbon Management Plan. Julie’s been here since 2019, and previously worked as the energy manager at Nando’s. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a Nando’s Black Card (yet).

Angeliki Karydi is the Energy Management Coordinator at King’s. She joined in December 2019 after completing her MA in Corporate Sustainability in Radboud University. She supports Julie as part of the energy team and is responsible for energy data analysis and reporting.

My name is Mason and I’m an MA Politics and Contemporary History student at King’s. I want my time here to be progressive and that’s why I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to be a Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA) and help King’s to achieve its energy goals.

I am Rebecca, I’m a 2nd year student here at King’s and I study BA Philosophy and Spanish. I’m very passionate about combating the climate crisis, so I’m very excited to join the energy team as an SCA this semester.

What do we do?

It’s really important to us that King’s students are aware of the steps we’re taking to reach our carbon goals, as well as how they can make changes in their own lives to reduce their carbon footprint.

Rest assured we’re leading by example. Here are some of our recent achievements:

  • 100% of directly purchased electricity at King’s comes from renewable sources.
  • King’s surpassed the Higher Education Funding Council target of reducing emissions by 43% by 2020, instead reaching a 49% reduction.
  • We’ve been awarded £1.8 million by The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme to further fund efficient energy.
  • In 2019, the King’s Energy Cooperative won the KCLSU Environmental Impact Award for engaging students with sustainability and energy.
  • King’s aims to be net-zero carbon by 2025.

And much, much more. Over the coming weeks we’ll be posting lots of information on our various projects, and ways in which you can positively impact the planet.

How can I get involved?

We’d love to hear from you! Please email us at energy@kcl.ac.uk with suggestions or inquiries. Otherwise, be sure to subscribe to the King’s sustainability newsletter and follow them on Instagram – that’s where we’ll be!

Apply to become a Sustainability Champion Assistant!

Want to gain skills to help you start a career in sustainability? This is your chance to help make a difference here at King’s.

Join staff and students in the Sustainability Champion scheme aimed at celebrating and recognising environmental achievements whilst also providing a framework to improve the environmental performance of King’s College London. The scheme is part of Green Impact, an environmental awards programme run by the National Union of Students. Last year King’s College London had 70 teams participate and this year would like the programme to be bigger than ever!

Objectives of a Sustainability Champion Assistant:

Support and motivate a staff Sustainability Champion team by helping to implement and improve sustainability initiatives in their department or faculty. Staff teams seeking student support this year include: King’s Food, Energy, Procurement, International Development, Dickson Poon School of Law.

Key skills gained for students:

  • Experience of working on a national project in a professional environment
  • Knowledge of environmental management techniques of offices and academic institutions
  • Insight into effective behaviour change methods
  • Experience of communicating using a variety of different means
  • Ability to support and encourage others to perform
  • Events management skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Time management
  • Project management

Apply

Please find the full role description on the KCLSU here.  

Please fill out the application form. You are also welcome to send your CV to alexandra.m.hepple@kcl.ac.uk.

The deadline for applications is midnight on the 4 December 2020.

Environmental Management Systems (EMS) at King’s

King’s Environmental Management System (EMS): ISO14001.

In April 2020, King’s was successfully re-accredited with the Environmental Management System (EMS) ISO14001. If you’re wondering what that is exactly, it’s an internationally recognised accreditation scheme that acknowledges how efficiently and sustainably an organisation is managed.

The organisation in this instance is King’s College London and the efficient and sustainable management is managed by the Sustainability Team with actions carried out by the wider Estates and Facilities team.

The EMS works on the principal of ‘taking concerted action for continual improvement’ – so similar to making improvements with anything in life – King’s will gather baseline data of its operations, identify where improvements can be made and then take action to continually improve those operations.

Evidence of good environmental performance is documented for both hard services (maintenance of electrics, plumbing, HVAC, etc) and soft services (cleaning, catering, security etc). The EMS also looks at existing operational procedures, ensuring actions are carried out safely and efficiently, thereby avoiding any negative environmental impacts. Examples include the correct procedure for composting of cut grass and tree trimmings from the sports fields, a procedure for storing fuels (oils, diesel and petrol) and for monitoring their use and the storage and use of chemicals etc.

An EMS also looks at how we communicate with stakeholders, examines our plans and policies for leadership, planning, staff training and ensures King’s are at all times legally compliant with environmental legislation.

If you’re wondering how you can support King’s ongoing ISO14001 accreditation, becoming a Sustainability Champion is a great start! Being an active Sustainability Champion who contributes to existing sustainability projects will ensure the College is continually improving. The engagement hours of staff and student activities are reported in a bi-annual EMS review meeting, and quiet often, Sustainability Champion projects overlap with operational activities for clean air, carbon and energy reduction and community engagement. This is an ideal opportunity for student sustainability champions to get some ‘real world experience’ which of course can be added to their C.V.

Outside of being a Sustainability Champion, the most effective way of supporting King’s EMS is simply for individuals to live more sustainably. Every individual act of sustainability on campus has a direct impact on operations – particularly those associated with energy and waste. As energy consumption and waste remain the College’s top environmental negative aspects, all efforts made to reduce both will help King’s reach our target of being Net Zero Carbon by 2025.

Below are tips on how to live more sustainably.

  1. Become a Sustainability Champion.
  2. Reduce your intake of meat consumption – consider having it only once a week. Even better consider going vegan.
  3. Walk, Cycle safety where possible and of course, weather permitting.
  4. Dress for the weather; wear warmer layers during winter and cooler clothing during the summer.
  5. Switch off electrical devices when not in use and plug out chargers when not charging a device.
  6. Dispose of waste in the correct bin – either the food bin, recycling bin or general waste.
  7. Use reusable coffee cups when ordering coffee to go – it’s cheaper too and perfectly safe!
  8. Grow a plant(s) in your room /office/home.
  9. Join any of the various King’s sustainable societies – plenty of sustainability actions can be done online and outdoors obeying the ‘space and face rules’
  10. Shop sustainably – either from a charity shop or from an accredited ethical and sustainable company. Preferably a local one too.

 

Join the King’s Climate Action Network

Recognising the urgency of the climate emergency, King’s set the ambitious target to be net zero carbon by 2025 in March 2017The university has made significant progress on reducing emissions so far, reducing total carbon emissions by 41% since 2005-06. This year, we are launching the King’s Climate Action Network (King’s CAN) to develop a strategy that will take us to net zero carbon 

An image of solar panels at King's, with the text "Join the King's Climate Action Network"

King’s CAN will be an open, interdisciplinary forum to bring together the skills and energy from across King’s to take climate action. The network will tackle a wide range of impact areas, including our university operations, procurement, travel, research and education.  

The aim of the network is to propose solutions to the climate crisis by minimising our negative impacts, and maximising the positive impact we can have in our role as a university. 

We are now looking for staff and students to join the King’s Climate Action Network and help us lead King’s to be net zero carbon by 2025. There will be regular events throughout the year, and you can get involved in one or more of the groups below, each looking at a different aspect of carbon and climate change: 

  • Zero carbon estate (energy and water use, sustainable construction) 
  • Procurement and waste (purchasing policies and data, waste management) 
  • Travel (flights, business travel and commuting) 
  • Responsible investment (divestment from fossil fuels, investment in socially responsible funds) 
  • Students & Education (formal and informal education on climate change and sustainability) 
  • Community & Engagement (creating a positive impact as part of our net zero carbon target) 
  • Zero carbon research  

Groups will be made up of staff, students, and members of the wider King’s community such as alumni, partner institutions and local community members. We hope that through this network, we can build meaningful positive change at King’s, and share our strategy and findings to benefit our wider community.  

We have now also opened applications for the King’s Climate Action Team, a volunteering opportunity for students who would like to get involved in the running of the network. As a volunteer, you will be supporting the Sustainability Team in running network events and sub-groups, gaining leadership skill and experience of carbon management in institutions like King’s. Applications are open until Friday, 9th October. You can find out more here. 

The official launch will take place online on the 16th October. If you would like to find out more, please contact sustainability@kcl.ac.uk or visit the sustainability webpagesTo join the network, please register your interest here. 

Sustainability Week Event Review: Environmental Regulations & Policies in a Post-Brexit Era

This guest blog comes from Mathilde Funck Brentano and Irina Tabacaru who are the Director and Researcher at the King’s Think Tank Energy and Environment policy centre.

On Tuesday 11 February, the Energy and Environment Policy Centre hosted an exclusive panel event as part of King’s College London’s Sustainability Week. We welcomed Scott Ainslie (Former Green Party Member of the European Parliament), Adam Bartha (Director of EPICENTRE), and Professor Robert Lee (Director of the Centre for Legal Education and Research at the University of Birmingham) to discuss the future of environmental policies in the United Kingdom in the post-Brexit era. The three speakers answered multiple questions, notably on the strengths and weaknesses of the European Union’s environmental law, as well as more specific topics such as air pollution and energy policies. The speakers clearly expressed their perspectives and gave the audience a fascinating insight into the post-Brexit debate on environmental regulations.

The Energy & Environment policy centre began the event with an audience-directed poll, featuring the question: ‘Do you think the UK should move forward with stricter environmental regulation after Brexit?’. After some time to reflect, the majority responded in favour of stricter regulation.

Following the survey, the panel began by discussing whether the UK should uphold European environmental standards after Brexit. While the speakers displayed little confidence in the ability of the current UK government to expand environmental regulations, all three argued in favour of furthering the existing policies. Drawing from his experience as a specialist advisor in the drafting of environmental legislation in Northern Ireland and Wales, Professor Lee highlighted the importance of compromise in reaching higher-level objectives in environmental regulations. In order to enable effective policies to be successful, the accessibility of environmental regulations ought to be improved. The discussion also mentioned the importance of changes in consumption habits to match governmental policies. Mr. Bartha expressed optimism regarding the United Kingdom’s prospects after Brexit. As he noted, one of the European Union’s main weaknesses is its bureaucratic aspect, and the fact that European policies are not implemented by all member states evenly. For example, member states in Eastern Europe respond differently to environmental policies than those in Northern or Western Europe. The United Kingdom now has the possibility to expand sustainability-related regulations more freely across its territory, and avoid the European Union’s precautionary principles in the drafting of legislation, as well as the excessive allowances of the Emissions Trading System (ETS). Conversely, Mr Ainslie underlined the apparent lack of ambition demonstrated by the British government in regard to green policies, particularly when compared to European targets. The speakers also discussed the necessity of a kerosene tax, given the considerable amount of carbon dioxide emissions generated by air transport.

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The discussion continued around the themes of Energy and Air Pollution. There was considerable disagreement between the speakers regarding the use and safety of shale gas as a potential alternative energy resource for the UK. The speakers’ views also diverged on the possibility of the UK reaching one hundred percent renewable energy use in the near future. Professor Lee also mentioned the importance of the UK finding its position concerning access to EU energy and, more importantly, pan-EU energy sources.

Our speakers expect that air quality standards will be upheld in the United Kingdom, despite its departure from the European Union. The British government has been tried several times by the European Court of Justice for failing to respect air quality standards. There is considerable public awareness on the topic, with approximately 28,000 to 36,000 pollution-related deaths in the UK every year. The necessity of tight cooperation between Westminster and local governmental bodies was put forth, as well as the urgent need for further enforcement.

Following the panelists’ discussion, the floor was opened to questions. The audience was extremely engaged in the discussion and interacted with the three panelists, raising a variety of issues, including the possibility of an EU-level meat tax. A captivating debate occurred regarding the theme of individual responsibility for climate change, as opposed to corporate and governmental responsibility. The high costs of sustainable and organic products, which represent a true burden for the average consumer, were extensively considered. The topic of waste management was also raised, following China’s decision to close its borders to foreign waste. Our panelists disagreed regarding the existence of the concept of ‘cyclical economy’, especially with reference to vehicles’ lithium ion batteries.

We would like to thank our three speakers for participating and sharing their thought-provoking insights with us. We would also like to thank the King’s Sustainability Team and KCLSU for their support in organizing our panel event. A big thank you also goes to our audience for being incredibly dynamic and engaged in the discussion. We look forward to welcoming you to King’s Think Tank events in the future!

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