Tackling the world’s most pressing issue

Generating debate among young people around the world about how to tackle ‘the world’s most pressing issue’, is a key aim of the new Cambridge Climate Lecture Series 2017 (CCLS 2017), says co-founder and Trinity Fellow, Dr Hugh Hunt.

This annual series will chart not only the current state of the global climate, but possible solutions and what would be required to implement those. CCLS 2017 begins on 23 February with a lecture, ‘A Race Between Physics and Politics,’ by Labour peer Baroness Bryony Worthington.

Each event – on 2, 9 and 16 March – will be live-streamed to engage with a broad global audience, who are encouraged to participate via social media using #CCLS2017.

Dr Hugh Hunt, co-founder of CCLS
Dr Hugh Hunt, co-founder of CCLS

Dr Hunt, Reader in Engineering Dynamics and Vibration at Cambridge, founded CCLS with earth scientist and Trinity alumnus, Tony Eva, after attending the UN Climate Change conference in Marrakesh last November.

Dr Hunt said, ‘We hope the events in Cambridge will catalyse discussion and debates, ideas and action by people all over the world. Unsurprisingly, young people, who will live with the serious consequences of climate change, are frustrated by the lack of progress by governments and international forums. Together, we need to generate new approaches and galvanise governments.’

While in Marrakesh, Dr Hunt interviewed campaigners and reflected on the role and achievements of international summits such as the annual UN Climate Change conference.

These summits don’t seem to be achieving anything at all – there is a lot talk but not much action. Young people are saying ‘we are the first generation to realise there is a problem, we don’t want to be the last generation to fail solve that.’

Although 195 countries signed up to limit global warming to below 2°C – the first universal, legally binding climate deal – at the Paris climate conference in 2015, Dr Hunt said the technologies required to achieve that were very underdeveloped.

The actual commitments we have to sign up to – reducing C02 by so many billion tonnes a year, sequestering so many billion tonnes of C02 a year, we have not got a handle on these numbers – and we really need to have by COP23 in November 2017.

Whatever techniques and technologies are proposed for tackling climate change, it’s important that taken together they add up to a total, sustainable, solution.

CCLS is inspired by the work of Honorary Fellow of Trinity and Regius Professor of Engineering at Cambridge, Sir David Mackay, who wrote the influential book Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air. Sir David passed away last year.

Dr Hunt said:

CCLS2017 marks the first anniversary of David’s death.  All the talks pay tribute to David’s insistence that any viable solution to climate change and energy must ‘add up.’

To ensure the series engages a broad global audience and catalyses discussion, Dr Hunt has teamed up with filmmaker Nick Breeze to live stream the lectures, and engage in debate on social media. They are continuing to make short videos, from COP22 in Marrakesh to previews of CCLS2017.

After Baroness Worthington’s 23 February lecture, Anthony Hobley, Chief Executive of the thinktank Carbon Tracker Initiative, will outline a ‘2°C Roadmap based on Financial Analysis.’

On 9 March, Professor Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy and Climate change at the University of Manchester, will speak about ‘Paris, Climate and Surrealism: How Numbers Reveal an Alternate Reality.’

The 2 and 9 March events will be hosted by Trinity alumna and polar scientist, Dr Emily Shuckburgh, who co-wrote the Ladybird Expert Book on Climate Change with HRH The Prince of Wales, and environmental campaigner, Tony Juniper.

All the CCLS2017 speakers, and the Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees, will join a panel discussion, ‘From COP21 to Zero Global Emissions,’ on 16 March, which is part of the Cambridge Science Festival.

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