Modern energy services have been one of the critical enablers of prosperity in the developed world. Such energy services are essential for the production of food, clean water and clean air, the provision of health care and in driving economic growth. However almost three billion of the world’s inhabitants lack access to modern energy services such as clean cooking fuels and electricity. Many of these people remain in poverty and the disparity in living standards is set to rise as a result of population growth.
Global primary energy use has grown by over 200% in the last 50 years and many forecasts project further increases in the order of 100% during the next 50 years. Despite the vast improvements in living standards, serious environmental impacts have often resulted. In recent decades rising greenhouse gas (especially carbon dioxide) emissions as a result of fossil fuel utilization and deforestation have become an urgent issue for the world due to the likely dangerous effects of climate change.
It is within this context that the provision of reliable, affordable and sustainable energy services for the global population emerges as one the greatest challenges facing our generation. In addition to meeting an inevitable growth in energy demand and the replacement of aging energy infrastructure, the world must transition to a low-carbon energy economy within a few decades. Investments in energy production and utilization typically involve long planning and development lead-times and very long, multi-decadal investment lives. Therefore, the decisions we make today have critical implications for decades to come. Meeting the challenge will require strong leadership and deep collaboration between governments, business, academia and the community to mobilize the technology, policy, social acceptance and investments necessary.
To continue the collaborative efforts at addressing this global challenge, we plan to meet in September 2016 to consider global trends and perspectives, discuss new and emerging energy systems, and determine the implications for policy, financing and social change. We will also examine the connections between the energy-environment challenge, nutrition security and global health.
Several multi-university workshops are also planned to further our collaborations in the areas of (a) alleviating energy poverty; (b) solar energy and energy storage; (c) low-emissions fossil fuel utilisation; and (d) bioenergy.
The Symposium will also showcase 3 Minute Thesis® presentations from graduate students working on a range of energy and environment topics at partner universities.