“The challenge is to deliver radical change now”

Julia King giving 6th John Collier Memorial Lecture

Professor Julia King, member of the Committee on Climate Change has been awarded the prestigious John Collier Memorial medal for exceptional commitment and contribution to nuclear industry and chemical engineering.

In a lecture prior to receiving the award she warned of the danger of inaction on climate change, “We have just 40 years to get this right – within the working life of undergraduates at university now. They will retire in a very different world. The challenge today is to deliver radical change – in infrastructure, technology, attitudes and in behaviour.”

The biennial John Collier Memorial Lecture was held on the 5th of May at the Royal Society in London.
Introducing the lecture was Dr Andy Spurr and Hannah Woor, both from British Energy Group PLC and Professor Richard Darton FREng, FIChemE, the Immediate Past President of IChemE.

Professor King addressed the importance of technology, innovation and consumer behaviour, and the role the UK is playing in international developments in tackling climate change. She said “it is important that we get science, engineering and policy right if we are to deliver in the future. Engineers and scientists must be ready to engage: in developing evidence-based policy and in enabling policy delivery by bringing forward innovative and affordable technical solutions that will really drive the transition to a low carbon world.”

Professor King also called for a step change in the pace at which low-carbon vehicles are developed beyond 2020, “we have to start now. We’ve got an industry and technology that consumers have got used to for 100 years – we need to change that quite radically which will be a shock to people, that’s why policy support is critical.”

Professor King is optimistic but realistic at the same time and concluded with reasons to be cheerful, “all 3 political parties are committed to 2050 target of 80%, power generation and road transport can deliver more that 80% reduction in emissions – and we know what we need to do, evidence based policy is having an impact and we can do it better, the automotive industry has moved from objecting to collaborating to embracing the opportunity. We can deliver both de-carbonisation and growth and today’s graduates are up for the challenge.”

The lecture finished with a lively question and answer session and a vote of thanks from Professor Michael Laughton FREng FIET, Royal Academy of Engineering.

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