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EI in Westminster and Whitehall
Supporting the quality of energy policymaking is a central part of the EI’s social purpose and, in the UK, September saw external engagement by EI Fellows with policymakers in both Parliament and the civil service.
At a special meeting of the Parliamentary Group on Energy Studies entitled ‘Success at COP26 starts at home: leading by example on net zero’, the EI convened an expert panel to present the findings of this year’s Energy Barometer. EI Chief Executive Louise Kingham was joined by Steve Holliday FREng FEI, President of the EI, and Professor Robert Gross FEI, EI Council Member and Director of the UK Energy Research Centre.
Kingham urged parliamentarians to listen to the views of energy professionals: ‘They’re engineers, technicians, scientists and economists, driven by the evidence and the practicalities of what it takes to keep the electrons and molecules flowing to our homes, businesses and vehicles. They know what they’re talking about, and they’re also the people we’re looking to to deliver net zero.’
Holliday made a powerful connection between what happens at home in the UK and next year’s climate talks in Glasgow: ‘Without immediate domestic policy steps from ministers, the UK’s international credibility is on the line. Orchestrating the international "race to zero" will call for every bit of credibility we can muster.’
And Professor Gross made the Barometer’s central case for enduring action on energy efficiency: ‘It’s singled out as the biggest missed opportunity of the past decade and is consistently seen as the best measure to meet the shortfall in the fifth carbon budget. Retrofitting our existing housing stock would have big economic, social and environmental co-benefits as part of a resilient recovery from the pandemic.’
Steve Holliday separately joined Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, and Alice Barrs, Head of UK Political Affairs at RWE, to speak to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Energy Costs, discussing the question, ‘Delivering net zero by 2050: Does government have an effective plan?’.
Meanwhile another expert panel of EI Fellows was lined up to provide complimentary training for policy officials new to energy in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The ‘Energy Fundamentals’ course has been developed by the EI to provide an introduction to the basic concepts and interconnections within the energy system between heat, transport and electricity. The sessions always generate much interest and interesting questions from new joiners in the department. In the hot seats on this fourth occasion were Dr Joanne Wade OBE FEI of the Association of Decentralised Energy, Professor Matthew Leach FEI of Surrey University, Philip New FEI of the Energy Systems Catapult and Prof Peter Taylor FEI of Leeds University.
You can watch recordings of the two parliamentary sessions here.