The importance of a human-centric and multidisciplinary approach to achieving net zero
Hola! I’m Daniel and I recently joined Centre for Net Zero as a Research Analyst.
From blockbuster ‘eco-disaster’ movies, huge billboard adverts reminding us to recycle and public climate countdown clocks, we’re surrounded by reminders of the environmental crisis we face. Yet few of us understand how to really tackle this issue — or its increasing urgency.
It wasn’t until I did a couple of modules in energy and sustainability during my undergraduate degrees that I understood the scale of the climate challenge. Since I was a kid I’ve been interested in science, technology and all the positive benefits that these two disciplines have brought to our world. Energy is foundational to progressing our societies and it’s often hard to accept the role that fossil fuels have played in enabling us to enjoy the benefits of modern society. Yet the polluting impact that our reliance on these sources of energy has on the environment is no longer tenable if we’re to mitigate the effects of climate change. We need a rapid, lower carbon energy transition — something that needs to be tackled from a multidisciplinary perspective. It’s not only about addressing the power we use to charge our phones or turn our lights on; it’s about resource scarcity, inequalities, social concerns, land use and a long et cetera.
After spending some time working on a project to help oil and gas companies with their digital transition to become greener and more sustainable, I realised that I really wanted to understand the wider implications of the energy trilemma and how it links to other disciplines beyond my scientific background, such as the economy, politics and sociology. This made me pursue an MSc in Sustainable Energy Futures where I learned a huge amount about these sectors and their relationships to one another. Not long after, I had the opportunity to work on some analysis of the evolution of power markets in countries with a lot of potential for renewable energy, such as Spain and Portugal. These projects showed me that the commitments of the Paris Agreement in 2015 are being considered by all its participant countries, yet more often than not, it’s the economic viability of a project that dictates how the energy transition is being defined, often leaving the human and social perspectives behind. Action is needed, and it is needed now.
The human-centric and multidisciplinary approach of Centre for Net Zero is what drew me to its mission and goals. I am thrilled to start working and collaborating with professionals who share the same mentality and who bring their knowledge from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines to bear as we drive towards the same objective: to get to net zero quickly, fairly and affordably.
I look forward to starting this exciting adventure and developing open and transparent research and models which will be of use to our partners and the wider public in tackling the problems we collectively face. There’s real opportunity here to support a sustainable, just and unbiased transition that delivers a better world for all of us.