Combating climate change and protecting global biodiversity was at the top of the world’s agenda before COVID-19 struck. And, while battling the pandemic remains at the forefront of global efforts, the climate crisis has not gone away.
With the world on lockdown, rapid changes in how society functions and travels have revealed some promising climate benefits, from falling carbon emissions to nature reclaiming land. People have had to change how they live and this presents an unprecedented opportunity to take greener and more sustainable steps forward.
Moving towards a green economy where sustainability and climate resilience are a higher priority is crucial. At the heart of this transition should be people and the places they occupy, to ensure the benefits are shared, and that decisions that affect the many are not just taken by the few.
Our panel of experts came together to discuss the so-called just transition and, as society emerges into the “new normal”, the opportunity we are presented with for a fair green recovery.
This event was held in partnership with The British Academy.
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The event was hosted by the BBC’s Chief Environment correspondent, Justin Rowlatt.
Pete Smith is Professor of Soils and Global Change at the Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Aberdeen (Scotland, UK) and Science Director of the Scottish Climate Change Centre of Expertise (ClimateXChange). His interests include climate change mitigation, soils, agriculture, food systems, ecosystem services and modelling. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, a Fellow of the Institute of Soil Scientists, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Foreign Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy, a Fellow of the European Science Academy, and a Fellow of the Royal Society (London).
Margreth Tadie is a Zimbabwean Chemical Engineer residing in South Africa. She is an academic at Stellenbosch University and a Fellow of the Royal Society’s ‘Future Leaders African Independent Researchers (FLAIR) programme. Margreth grew up in mining communities all over her home country Zimbabwe and has now dedicated her research towards empowering these communities through process development. Her passion is for addressing the environmental legacy created by waste and developing solutions to ensure a resilient earth and sustainable livelihoods.
Jim Skea is Professor of Sustainable Energy at Imperial College London with research interests in energy, climate change and technological innovation. His current main role is as Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III for the 6th assessment cycle. He was Research Director of the UK Energy Research Centre 2004-12 and Director of the Policy Studies Institute 1998-2004. He has operated at the interface between research, policy-making and business throughout his career. He was a member of the UK Committee on Climate Change from its inception in 2008 until 2018. He is currently chairing Scotland’s Just Transition Commission. Until June 2017, he was President of the UK Energy Institute. He was awarded a CBE for services to sustainable energy in 2013 and an OBE for services to sustainable transport in 2004.
Harriet Bulkeley holds joint appointments as Professor in the Department of Geography, Durham University, and at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University. Her research focuses on environmental governance and the politics of climate change, energy and sustainable cities. Harriet currently Co-ordinates the H2020 NATURVATION project examining the role of urban innovation with nature based solutions for sustainable development. In 2014, Harriet was awarded the King Carl XVI Gustaf’s Professorship in Environmental Science and a Visiting Professorship at Lund University, Sweden and in 2018 was granted the Back Award by the Royal Geographical Society in recognition of the policy impact of her work on climate change. In 2019, she was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences and as a Fellow of the British Academy.