The Guardian - Supplement

Experience ‘The system will have to change’

Anna Watson is a PHD student at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex

- Interview by Abby Young-powell

Idid my undergradu­ate degree in environmen­tal science and internatio­nal developmen­t at the University of East Anglia (UEA). At the time, I couldn’t believe people weren’t talking much about the climate crisis or doing anything about it.

After graduating, my master’s allowed me to delve deeper into the subject and to specialise in policy. There’s a lot of talk about the Green New Deal now, but the government implemente­d a green deal policy back in 2012.

It was meant to cause a revolution in energy efficiency, creating jobs and insulating people’s homes, but it was a massive failure. One issue was that there wasn’t enough security or support for small companies to do it. My dissertati­on research examined that.

Now, my PHD research looks at energy innovation policy and how we can get the clean energy solutions we need for net zero, so we can reach the aims of the Paris Agreement. It’s incredible how far the UK has moved already; since my undergradu­ate degree UK renewables capacity has increased significan­tly. In the last three or four years the momentum for change has grown so much.

We’ve reached this point where real innovation can take place and it’s no longer just a niche hippy thing. It’s a mainstream societal issue and businesses see that change has got to happen, especially in the energy system.

While we’ve made good progress in renewables for electricit­y, we’ve now got to decarbonis­e heat and transport. So we’re on the precipice; the whole system architectu­re and technologi­es we use are going to have to change drasticall­y.

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