my zcb road trip in sub zero temperatures

Tuesday 30th November 10am

Despite the snow and ice I have just had confirmation by phone that the weeks travels are going ahead. I am now about to embark the first leg of my journey, from Machynlleth to Cardiff to attend the first meeting of Science Advisory Council for Wales

Machynlleth train station
Machynlleth train station

The role of the Council is to advise the Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales and through him the First Minister and the Welsh Assembly Government, on a broad range of scientific issues and policies that will help address the challenges Wales faces, support the economy and improve quality of life.

This brief crosses very closely our work at . Through our Zero Carbon Britain 2030 report, we have attempted to identify our key challenges and to develop a numerical scenario for how we can meet them, using a wide deployment of currently mature energy technologies. CAT is also committed to public engagement in the science of sustainability, helping many people young and old see that studying the core science, technology engineering and mathematics subjects need not to be at odds with our desires to protect the environment, in fact they are essential to achieve it.

Meeting Professor John Harries ( Head of Scientific Advisory Council) at CAT last week
Meeting Professor John Harries ( Head of Scientific Advisory Council) at CAT last week

Tuesday 30th November 2pm

Arrived in Cardiff and am spending a little time reading over all the relevant papers in advance of my two day meeting. I am pleased to see that a ‘low-carbon Wales’ features as a key priority in both the economic and academic strategies. The question is how can this be turned into action on the ground, and at what pace. The events unfolding around me as I travel re-enforce the need for urgency. This week, world leaders are heading for the next round of the UN climate negotiations in Cancun. Unless long industrialised nations can set real lead in moving away from fossil fuels, the majority world countries will be unable to sign up to the international agreement we so urgently need.

In addition, this really cold weather reminds me just how dependent we have become on abundant cheap fossil fuels. During the cold snap in January this year UK oil and gas consumption reached an all time high. Yet our North Sea oil production reached its peak in 1999 and is now in terminal decline. If we have a cold snap in 2020 or 2030 the North Sea reserves will be all but gone and we will be dependant on imports from far away places like Qatar, the former Soviet Union and Algeria. Due to the impending global peak in fossil fuel production, this cannot offer a reliable long-term solution.

peak_oil2