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UCL events news and reviews


Lunch Hour Lectures: The handmaiden’s emissions – international shipping in changing climates

By Thomas Hughes, on 28 January 2016

“This lecture on the handmaiden’s emissions is not actually about the flatulence of household servants,” Dr Tristan Smith (UCL Energy Institute) joked at the Lunch Hour Lecture on 26 January. The “handmaiden” is in fact the affectionate nickname used for the world’s shipping – so called because it is globalisation’s servant, without which we wouldn’t have the same food, commodities or fuel.

Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, the first Triple-E, passing Port Said in the Suez Canal on its maiden voyage.

Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, credit: Maersk Line.

However, it has a huge environmental cost in CO2 emissions that has continued to grow as GDP and demand has risen. Dr Smith has been working with the team in the UCL Energy Institute to help find solutions to cut emissions, while keeping costs low.

An average container ship has around 1,500 containers on it, with each container the size to be pulled by a single lorry. There are thousands of these ships, which in total account for about 2-3% of global emissions.


The myth of apathy (behaviour change from the inside out)

By news editor, on 4 December 2012

Written by Jenny Love, PhD student at the UCL Energy Institute.

The several hundred-strong audience attracted by Renee Lertzman of Royal Roads University bore testimony to our desire to effect ‘behaviour change’ in our society with respect to environmental protection.

It is a phrase that is used by many of us without an understanding of the people we are trying to effect change in. Renee, as a psychosocial researcher (this discipline addresses psychological development in, and interaction with, a social environment), brought us an insight into how people create meaning for themselves in a time of environmental degradation.


Sustainable Energy for All: this year, next year, sometime – or never?

By Lara J Carim, on 27 November 2012

West Yorkshire wind turbines (by
nulabugeye on Flickr)

Liberal Democrat Energy Minister Ed Davey’s clash with his Conservative deputy John Hayes over the future of wind turbines earlier this month demonstrates how topical and divisive the sustainable energy agenda can be.

Despite the issue’s current high media profile, a quick show of hands at the start of Professor Paul Ekins’ Lunch Hour Lecture on 20 November illustrated that there is little public awareness of 2012 as UN International Year of Sustainable Energy for All – even among an audience with an interest in the topic.

Undeterred, Ekins, who is Professor of Resources and Environmental Policy and Director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, immediately set out in stark terms why sustainable energy is “a huge issue”: 1.3 billion people globally in 2012 have no access to electricity, and 2.7 billion – more than one-third of the world’s population – lack clean cooking facilities.


Who hasn’t heard about Rio+20?

By news editor, on 3 July 2012

Tia Kansara, PhD Student (UCL Energy Institute)

I aim to tell you all about my visit to Rio, it was my first time to South America and what an experience it was!

The Earth Summit in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was a defining watershed, focusing attention on global environmental problems, the risks of climate change and the need for collective action.

Rio+20 on June 20-222012,  the follow-up to the original summit,  aimed to revive a process often seen as faltering.

Instead of climate change, the theme of 1992, this year the focus was on “The Green Economy”.

I was present as an official delegate in my capacity as Director of Kansara Hackney Ltd, thanks to the UIA (Union Internationale des Architectes) President, Mr Albert Dubler and Prime Minister of Bhutan HH Jigme Thinley.

The official three-day event attracted more than one hundred heads of state and governments, making it one of the most important international conferences of 2012. It was held amid the global financial crisis, growing unemployment in the west and worsening environmental degradation worldwide.