Grantham Centre announces free sustainability seminars for the Festival of Debate 2018

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Our Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures will present five ground-breaking seminars on some of the biggest challenges facing our planet, and how they might be solved, in the Grantham Centre Festival of Debate 2018.

Taking place in the Diamond Building throughout May, the festival will see guest speakers from the worlds of policy, academia and industry addressing a range of issues from overpopulation to the future of our food.

Featuring diverse voices from across our University and beyond, the Festival of Debate is a Sheffield-wide series of public events exploring culture and politics in today’s society. A collaboration between over 40 partner organisations from across the city, the exciting series aims to encourage public discussion of pressing issues and ideas.

Every year, the Grantham Centre contributes to the festival with a series of free public seminars and debates, exploring questions about the challenges of building a fairer world and saving natural resources for future generations.

The Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures is a collaboration between our University and the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment.

Take a look at the Grantham Centre seminar series.

All seminars will take place in the Diamond Building, Lecture Theatre 6. The full programme includes:

Should people in the UK have fewer children to save the world?

Tuesday 1 May, 6pm-7.30pm

This vital debate will explore whether the issue of a sustainable future could be solved if there were simply fewer people to cater for. Is overpopulation the true cause of the environmental challenges we face, and should we be taking measures to limit our population?

Representing a wide range of views, the expert panel will be chaired by Professor Jill Atkins from our Management School, joining with Carl Lee from our Department of Geography, Professor Robert Gray from the University of St Andrews and Alistair Currie, Head of Campaigns and Communications at Population Matters.

Register your interest here.

Power the Powerless

Wednesday 9 May, 5.30pm-7.30pm

An estimated 1.2 billion people are living with no electricity. Ending energy poverty would mean improving health, education and productivity for communities around the globe.

Two years have passed since the Sustainable Development Goals were established and efforts have been made to increase the renewable share in the UK energy mix. However, with the significant number of people living with no electricity at all, energy access is seemingly a low priority.

The panel will discuss electricity access from sustainability and community perspectives.  Why is a huge part of the global population still living without access to electricity? If successful technologies have been established, why aren't developing communities feeling the benefit?

Speakers will be announced shortly.

Register your interest here.

Should we put a price on carbon?

Friday 11 May, 5.30pm-7pm

Global carbon emissions must be urgently reduced. Almost all countries have agreed to do their part, but emissions continue to increase. The panel will discuss one proposed solution to this pressing problem – putting a price on carbon.

What is the best way to price carbon? Who should decide the price, and who should bear the cost? Is it even a good idea? These questions and many more will be explored in a non-technical event suitable for anyone interested in tackling climate change.

In what promises to be a productive and informative discussion, the panel will be chaired by Martin Craig from SPERI (Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute). He will be joined by carbon experts Dr Maria Carvalho from the London School of Economics; Larry Lohmann, a campaigner and researcher from The Corner House; Ross Mckenzie, EU Public Affairs Manager for the power plant Drax; and Dr Tina Fawcett from the University of Oxford.

Register your interest here.

The dark side of renewables: the need for energy storage

Monday 21 May, 2pm-3.30pm

Renewable energy production does not always cope with the demand, and an energy system depending solely on renewables could be unreliable. With the increasing energy demand, it is of great importance to find energy storage alternatives.

Our panel of experts, including Dr Yajue Wu from our Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering; Nick Kitchin, CEO of Cumulus Energy Storage; and Charles Purkess from ITM Power, will discuss the risks and benefits of energy storage.

Register your interest here.

Should the UK feed itself?

Tuesday 22 May, 5.30pm-7pm

The UK currently produces 61% of the food it eats. However, following the UK’s decision to leave the EU, uncertainty over future trade has led to calls for the UK to become more self-sufficient. To what extent could we feed ourselves?

This panel session will discuss how greater self-sufficiency could be achieved at both the local and national level. Could we change our diets and reduce waste? Can and should we intensify farming? And what role could local farms and urban agriculture play?

Andrew Francis from the National Farming Union and Darrell Maryon from Heeley City Farm will lead the discussion, with other speakers still to be confirmed.

Register your interest here.