Friday, 16 July 2010

Jeremy Leggett on transitioning to a low-carbon world - in 60 seconds!

We have asked past Ashden award-winners to answer tough questions on what is needed to transition to a low-carbon world – and we’ve given them just 60 seconds to do it in! Jeremy Leggett, founder and Chairman of Solarcentury, gave us some quickfire answers on three key topics.

The new government says it will be the ‘greenest government in history’ - quite a bar to set. What would David Cameron have to put first on his agenda to give you faith in the future of a sustainable energy in the UK?
The UK needs a programme of rapid proactive clean-energy mobilisation consistent with the recommendations of the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak oil and Energy Security. The taskforce is forecasting a global oil crunch by 2015 at the latest - around the same time that Ofgem and others are forecasting for a gas and electricity crunch in the UK. Because of the risk that oil producers will start husbanding their resources for use at home, the threat of peak oil means we have to mobilise clean energy far faster than we would have to in order to get to 80% cuts by 2050, for carbon reasons.

Do you think feed-in tariffs will revolutionise the domestic energy landscape?
They certainly hold the potential so to do. But they need to be reduced steadily year-on-year, without caps on deployment, in a way that allows a domestic industry to keep growing. Spain has shown how not to do this, and killed the industry it had begun to build. Enemies of renewables - and there are many such - will be trying very hard to repeat this insanity in the UK.

Most people in the UK have heard of climate change and the need to act, but are doing little. What do you think is the biggest thing hindering behaviour change?
The human brain. The older I get the more I lose my faith in the power in rational argument. I fear that most of us prefer comforting narratives over uncomfortable ones, whatever the evidence says. Neuroscience, with all its recent advances, is becoming a must for amateur study by those of us who seek to change the world for the better.

Solarcentury won and Ashden Award in 2007, click here to find out more.

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