Energy and Climate Change

This item first appeared in 2007

Science and the Parliament event, on 28 November 2007

The 7th Science and the Parliament event was held on 28 November 2007, once again in Our Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh. The topic was Energy and Climate Change.

Delegates were welcomed by RSC President Prof Jim Feast. Traditionally the first speech is by a member of the ruling party at Holyrood thus, for the first time the honour fell to a member of the SNP, Stewart Stevenson MSP, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change. The Scottish Parliament recently announced they intend to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions by 80% before 2050; the UK target is 60% of CO2 emissions. Although a difficult target, Scotland’s abundance of wind, wave and hydro power means we have a greater change of attaining this figure than many other countries.

After awards to the best Higher Grade students of 2007 we were given a brief review of the chemistry of climate change by Prof Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Scottish Government. This was followed by two question and answer sessions. First Profs Anne Glover, Stuart Monro and Maggie Gill tackled the scientific questions. This was followed by MSPs Brian Adam (SNP), Iain Gray (Lab), Robin Harper (Green), Alex Johnstone (Cons) and Liam McArthur (Lib Dem) answering the political questions. Some of the points raised during the Q&A sessions were, is there any point of microgeneration if the household wastes energy, is the money not better spent improving insulation, fitting a more efficient boiler etc? Is the new class A appliance using more energy than the old less efficient class C machine? We are all going to have to difficult choices in the years ahead.

After a refreshment break there were four parallel breakout sessions debating in more detail:

  • Renewable energy
  • Transport and Fuel
  • Electricity Generation
  • Energy and Conservation

This was followed by the opportunity to go next door to the Scottish Parliament Building. Around 30 MSPs remained in the Chamber after the work for the day was completed to take part in a debate on science. Many looked back to famous scientists from the past such as Kelvin and Black. The fact we have five of the top 100 universities in the world was mentioned, but how much do most people know of the research happening today?

At the refreshment breaks and the evening reception there was an opportunity to look round the 35 exhibitors stands, including the SCI Scotland Group stand. In attendance were Andy Ainsworth, Dick Bond and Tom Clarkson.

Tom Clarkson,
Scotland Regional Group

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