Influencing UK energy policy

Research at the Centre for Geography, Environment and Society has helped improve energy sustainability, security and affordability. The Energy Policy Group (EPG), which is part of the Centre, has focused on energy policy development and regulatory and market reform.

Energy policy is an important issue due to agendas to reduce CO2 emissions to meet climate change targets and to help protect our future climate. Rising fossil fuel prices and domestic energy bills, affordability issues, and a need to ensure future energy security are all drivers for this research.

A major research focus within the EPG since 2007 has been around the mechanisms and processes necessary to create a sustainable UK energy economy. This included work on future technology pathways and the effectiveness of UK Government policy with respect to energy sector design and regulation.

Professor Catherine Mitchell, the Energy Policy Group’s lead academic, was a lead author for the last two United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.  Her work helped explain to decision-makers which policies they can use to mitigate climate change, such as the transformation to sustainable energy using renewable energy technologies.  This work concluded that renewables could supply almost 80 per cent of the world’s energy by the mid-twenty-first century if the right policies are used.

Professor Mitchell said: “The energy we use in our everyday lives contributes a great deal to greenhouse gas emissions – in the UK it contributes about 85 per cent of our CO2 emissions. This report makes it clear that renewable energy is a viable option, but only if it is supported by policies which encourage investment in the technologies needed.”

EPG researchers have also provided reports for bodies across the energy spectrum including charities, Greenpeace and the international affairs think tank Chatham House. The group have attracted more than £2 million in research funding since 2009.