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Professor Sir David King, the UK’s Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Climate Change, and former Governmental Chief Scientific Adviser, visited the University of Birmingham on Wednesday 15 February 2017 to deliver a keynote speech on Mission Innovation - a global initiative to dramatically accelerate global clean energy innovation.

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The lecture concluded the Energy Capital Launch event, a bold new initiative to position the West Midlands as the UK’s centre of clean energy technology, and deliver a wide range of economic benefits.

Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, welcomed Sir David to the prestigious event. A leading figure in the climate change debate, Professor Sir David plays a key role in fronting Mission Innovation, launched during the COP21 climate conference in Paris, along with world-leaders such as Former President Obama and Bill Gates. Mission Innovation aims to unite public and private stakeholders to solve climate change.

Addressing over 200 students, academics and energy professionals, Professor Sir David stated:

“All of us on this planet are faced with an existential crisis. We have been using fossil fuels to provide all of our energy systems since the industrial revolution. As a result of this, greenhouse gases have been accumulating in the atmosphere, and now the planet is on course to warm up by 6 or 7 degrees average, unless, we find alternative energy sources for the entire world economy.”

He describes the low-carbon transition as the ‘greatest opportunity of our age’, highlighting the economic benefits of the evolution to a low-carbon economy. When discussing Mission Innovation, he said:

“The UK was the first to declare that it will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. We now have the Paris COP agreement with 190 nations committed to action to dramatically reduce warming. Now twenty two nations have joined Mission Innovation - all of which are dedicated to doubling clean energy research, development and demonstration (RD&D) spend by 2020. In support of economic growth, energy access and security, and an urgent and lasting response to global climate change, Mission Innovation aims to accelerate the pace of clean energy innovation. This will be key in achieving performance breakthroughs and cost reduction, to provide affordable and reliable clean energy solutions that will revolutionise world energy systems.”

Emphasising the need for a low-carbon economy, he said “Internationally, we are now undergoing the most rapid period of urban development ever in our global history. By 2050, 70% of populations will live in cities; therefore, our priorities now need to focus on fossil-free energy systems.”

“By 2020, the clean energy industry, globally, will be spending $2 – 3 trillion dollars a year in clean energy infrastructure. If the UK works closely with industry to develop new technology for the marketplace, we can accelerate this process, have a good chance to drive economic growth and increase ambition in combatting climate change.”

  • The Birmingham Energy Institute is the focal point for the University, and its national and international partners, to create change in the way we deliver, consume and think about energy. The Institute harnesses expertise from the fundamental sciences and engineering through to business and economics to deliver co-ordinated research, education and the development of global partnerships. By creating technology and guiding policy today, the Institute aims to help shape energy solutions tomorrow. 
  • Energy Capital is the smart energy innovation partnership for the West Midlands. By responding to the needs of our vibrant manufacturing economy and diverse local markets, Energy Capital aims to make the West Midlands one of the most attractive locations to build innovative clean energy technology companies in the world. Partnerships will combine world-leading academic expertise with ambitious local authorities, diverse businesses, innovators and entrepreneurs.
  • Mission Innovation (MI) is a global initiative of 22 countries and the European Union to dramatically accelerate global clean energy innovation. As part of the initiative, participating countries have committed to double their governments’ clean energy research and development (R&D) investments over five years, while encouraging greater levels of private sector investment in transformative clean energy technologies. These additional resources will dramatically accelerate the availability of the advanced technologies that will define a future global energy mix that is clean, affordable, and reliable.