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    • Please join me in welcoming Dr. James Dyke for a Cake Panel to discuss his new film "The Race Is On: Secrets and Solutions of Climate Change."

      About the film: While public perception about climate change is good in that people know urgent action is needed, most people are still largely unaware just how serious the situation is, or how much the international community is relying on highly speculative technological solutions to avoid dangerous climate change. If these solutions fail, then we could face disastrous changes to climate and much of the biosphere. THE RACE IS ON tells this epic story through the words of four world leading experts: Dr. Gavin Schmidt from NASA; Kate Raworth from Oxford university; Professor Kevin Anderson from Tyndall Centre, and Paul Allen from Zero Carbon Britain. The challenge we face is unprecedented, but the race to beat climate breakdown is one we can win.

      A bit more about Dr. James Dyke: "Dr James Dyke FRSA is an academic, writer, and science communicator based in the United Kingdom. He is the Programme Director of the MSc Global Sustainability Solutions at the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of the European Geophysical Union and serves on the editorial board of the journal Earth System Dynamics."

      You can read a bit more about what inspired the film here.

      Welcome, James!

    • Thank you so much for making this film! One of the topics you touch on is the Zero Carbon Report. Where can people learn more about the report?

    • I think so. Well, I certainly hope so. A key feature of Germany's energy transition has been community owned and run energy generation. So people get a say in how their energy is generated.

      The situation in the UK is very different, with almost all electricity being generated by a small number of very large international corporations. The sorts of rapid transformations that climate change mitigation requires means that this sort of model cannot continue. That gives us an opportunity for more community-based generation.

    • A more challenging subject that you touch on in the film is the paradox of Negative emissions technologies - technologies that have yet to be developed but that are being built into future plans. How can people learn more about this subject?

    • I think most people would be surprised - perhaps shocked - at how much we are relying on future Negative Emissions Technologies to ensure we stay withing 2°C. All policy makers effectively gave up on reducing emissions in time, so the fall back position has been we will have to figure out how to suck out potentially huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere for many decades. Given the urgency to develop this, you may assume that governments and private organisations were all over this, but the progress has been very limited with some pilot projects demonstrating viable approaches, but nothing like the scale that is needed. There is an excellent Carbon Brief report that gives an overview of the various ways NETs may work here:

    • To help address climate change, it sounds like it’s a paradigm shift to the idea of economics as household management, as Kate Raworth discusses. Can you elaborate more?

    • One of the most exciting things to emerge from the social and political response to climate change, is this sense of urgency for not just technological solutions, but new ways of economics thinking. This is coming from university students who have started a new movement that is effectively demanding economics teaching is fit for purpose - see the Rethinking Economics group - (they may be active in our town!). Kate Raworth was a major contributor to the film as she has pioneered new approaches to economic theory. Her 'doughnut economics' is being widely discussed within and beyond academia -

      If we think of the planet as our home, if we think about our relationship to it in such ways, then what can emerge is a much more sustainable economic framework.

    • This is good news. Absolutely. But we need to put it into a wider context. First, is that there has been a long term transition from coal to gas for electricity generation in the UK. That was for factors that includes climate change but also air quality. Second, while the UK has managed to both increase the size of its economy and reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions, the picture isn't so rosy if you factor in the emissions associated with aviation, shipping and the embedded carbon in the products that are imported into the UK. So while in some ways the UK is internationally leading on climate change with the 2008 Climate Change Act, it's current performance means it failing to meet its domestic and international obligations. So in summary. Yes, well done UK - but you must try much harder!

    • There is so much we can do. This doesn't have to be ovewhelming. I see it as simply making some informed choices about everyday actions and activities. From there you can do a little bit more. Progressive individual change really can make a difference. We created a companion website to help people make these informed changes. Take a look! In general terms: think about what you eat - try to increase proportion of locally grown vegetables; how you travel - try to not fly, use the train, cycle, walk or car share; what you wear - be savvy about the impacts of your clothes. I would also say we must consider how we vote and how we tell our elected representatives our concerns about the climate.

    • Resources like Skeptical Science are excellent in that they capture the classic denier arguments that have been shown to not stand up to scrutiny. They do a lot of the hard work of rebutting some of this. But ultimately I don't think we can win this battle. It's asymmetric in that it's easy to generate lies and hard to show them to be false. We need to be open and transparent about the science and the findings. And then we need to enter into debates. In my experience, these debates are useless in terms of convincing people who already have hardended positions. What you are able to do is reach out to people who may not be entirely persuaded and demonstrate to them the very robust research and conclusions.

    • That's a very good question. Everything we do will have some sort of impact somewhere. Switching from coal electricity generation to hydro dams can produce ecological devestation, diplacement of large communities. And even greenhouse gasses due to methan emissions from sediment. I think the key issue here, is are we trying to simply replace what we have, or also keep up with the requirments of economic growth. I'm not convinced we can replace like-for-like at the same time as maintain target rates of economic growth. I think there needs to be a more fundamental reassessment of how we use our limited resources to make a rapid transition to sustainable energy generation, and food production.

    • That would mean I would have to repeat school. Which I would not be thrilled about!

    • Hydrogen fuel cells as an energy carrier (so a sort of battery) have been developed for cars, trucks, and shipping. But if fossil fuels are used to produce the hydrogen then any carbon emissions savings are going to be significantly reduced - the same story with current electric vehicles. There are also arguments or issues about practicality. So while fuel cell vehicles could be much more efficient than fossil fueled vehicles, the need to transport significant amounts of hydrogen around in going to involve a large amount of new infrastructure. Shipping may get around some of those issues having much more centralised refueling. The use of wind power for shipping by way of using large kites sounds a bit crazy, but it appears to work.

    • If we continue to burn fossil fuels as today's rate, then in about 12 years we would pretty much blow the budget to have a good chance of limiting warming to no more than 1.5°C. You will struggle to find anyone involved in climate change policy who thinks global combustion of coal, oil, and gas will stop in a little over a decade! So hence the reliance on Negative Emissions Technologies (NETs), without which limiting to 1.5°C or 2°C would require very large and sustained reductions in emissions.

    • For a good starting list of individual actions you can take, then please visit the film's website Action section: It all adds up.

      Solar panels can make a difference. The technology is getting cheaper so they are becomming much more cost effective. Also, generating your own energy and understanding what you do that consumes energy typically makes you more careful and use less.

      Buying a new electric car is tricky. We can't just swap out the existing fleet of diesel and petrol powered cars with new electric vehicles. The impacts in terms of lithium mining alone would be significant. And if we charge these vehicles with coal generated electricity, then we may be producing even more CO2. There needs to be fewer vehicles, and of those they need to be lightweight, efficient electric. There also needs to be much more mass transit to move large numbers of people around safely, swiftly, and sustainably. So mass, local, and high speed rail; good bus network; cycle paths. And promote walking and liveable cities!

    • There is a lot of excitement about Beyond and Impossible. I've had an Impossible Burger and it is really excellent! Vegetarian food is becoming mainstream. And it's not just meat replacement products, but food choices that embraces meals that do not contain meat as positive options - that is, it's not just about not eating meat, but eating different things that can be just or more tasty. So right now I think we see both food technology development and lifestyle change. Either way, it's very easy to take a step down from the amount of meat and fish and dairy that you eat. You don't need to become a vegan overnight. Here's a good TEDx talk about the big positive impacts you can have by making incremental changes to what you eat.

    • Following on from this discussion (and a bit more thinking), I wrote a long read about why I think climate change has proved so difficult to solve. Be advised - it's pretty grim in places, but I do think I offer some reasons for hope at the end (so please stick with it!):