UN climate-change expert to speak in Scotland on UK energy policy ‘uncertainties’


Dr Nick Eyre
Dr Nick Eyre

One of the world’s leading scientific experts on climate-change is due to give a talk in Scotland next week on the UK’s uncertain energy policy, energy-efficiency and domestic heating.

Speaking at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (on Tuesday 7 October) Dr Nick Eyre will present work undertaken by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) on ‘energy system uncertainties’, including scenarios developed for UK residential energy use up to 2050.

Dr Eyre leads the Lower Carbon Futures Programme at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford, and is a Jackson Senior Research Fellow at Oriel College, Oxford.

He has worked on energy, environment and climate issues for 30 years and was a lead author on the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC published in April 2014.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific intergovernmental body under the auspices of the United Nations, set up at the request of member governments. The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) provides a clear and up to date view of the current state of scientific knowledge relevant to climate change.

Fossil fuels are the main source of space heating in the UK, and are a major driver of greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate change mitigation will require a systemic change in approaches to space heating, involving some combination of energy efficiency improvement and low carbon fuels.

Yet UK policy-makers currently appear to envisage a scenario which is heavily dependent on heat pumps powered by low-carbon electricity. While some shift in the direction of greater heat pump usage is very likely to be required, excessive reliance on this as a solution would raise a number of problems and risks.

A more diversified strategy, with greater emphasis on energy efficiency and a range of alternative heating technologies and low heat carbon sources, would be more prudent. This would still require changes in supply chain practices and consumer acceptance.

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