There’s more unity in thought across the energy sector when it comes to climate change than you might think.
Our headline panel at EXPO on Tuesday this week included Adam Woodhall an Extinction Rebellion spokesperson, an advocate of nuclear power in the form of Kirsty Gogan of Energy For Humanity, Steve Holliday, the former CEO of the National Grid and now President of the Energy Institute and the UK boss of tech giant Schneider Electric, Mike Hughes.
An eclectic mix of people who shared a common view – energy has to address the issue of climate change for both business and environmental reasons.
Speaking to a packed audience of 450 people Steve Holliday said getting to net zero has to mean being technology agnostic: “We need to stop the debate about technologies we need every clean technology there is. There are companies now in the energy sector I would never have imagined. There are software companies half of them, they are human behavioural businesses. But we are not going to get the energy we need without the oil and gas companies.”
Looking back on the year, the UK’s net zero target set by government was something Mike Hughes believed was a great catalyst for change. Saying it showed: “Great leadership, great direction and what that provides for companies like us in the market is a clear focus area. Where we can invest our money and understand where can we go, where can we help in this journey”
Much of the debate centred around the antics of Extinction Rebellion, who grabbed headlines by blocking roads, airports and stations this year and getting arrested in droves. Adam Woodhall who has worked in the energy sector but is now an XR activist, said they were pushing for change mainly from government.
He said: “The key thing that government can do is not only can it change regulation, but it’s where it spends its money. XR doesn’t have an opinion on nucelar and neither do I but the billions of pounds we spent on Hinkley could have been spent on nurturing a rapid decarbonisation of the rest of the grid.”
However Kirsty Gogan the CEO of Energy for Humanity disagreed and said the work on Hinkley though delayed, was vital as we would never reach net-zero without nuclear.
She said: “There isn’t a single country in the world, modern industrialised economy, that has fully transitioned only with variable renewables, They have decarbonsied through a combination of nuclear and renewable energy.”
You can watch the whole debate soon.