Science & Technology

Climate's Holy Trinity: how cogency, tenacity and courage could yet deliver on our Paris 2°C commitment

Professor Kevin Anderson FIMechE
9th October 2018, 7:00pm

It is 28 years since the IPCC's first report and a quarter of a century since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit – such heady days of international hope and optimism. Now, in 2018 and with the benefit of hindsight, we can look back and trace our voyage of abject failure – and with humility learn lessons for charting an alternative low-carbon course.


This lecture will begin by acknowledging our collective penchant for delusion on climate change. It will explore how academia has abdicated its responsibility to hold government to account, choosing instead to be complicit in maintaining a façade of mitigation. It will reveal the growing gap between aspiration and action, and will argue that centuries of reductionist thinking and specialised disciplines leave us ill-equipped to understand system-level (‘wicked’) problems. Building on a more candid foundation, the lecture will proceed to sketch out the unprecedented scale and time-frame of decarbonisiation now necessary to deliver on our Paris 2°C commitment. It will conclude by elaborating how a more iterative and system-level framing of the challenge, and ask whether a Marshall-style policy prospectus could yet deliver a family of 2°C emission pathways.


About the Speaker

Kevin Anderson has just completed two years as the Zennström Professor of Climate Change Leadership at Uppsala University, and has now returned to his position as Chair of Energy and Climate Change at the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering (MACE) at The University of Manchester. He is deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and a non-executive director of Greenstone Carbon Management. Kevin is research active with publications in Science, Nature and Nature Geosciences.


Kevin engages widely across all tiers of government (EU, UK and Sweden) on issues ranging from shale gas, aviation and shipping to the role of climate modelling (IAMs), carbon budgets and ‘negative emission technologies’. His analysis previously contributed to the framing of the UK's Climate Change Act and the development of national carbon budgets.


Kevin has a decade’s industrial experience, principally in the petrochemical industry. He is a chartered engineer and a fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


Menu for Supper

Lamb hotpot served with pickled cabbage and crusty bread

Green vegetable risotto

Manchester tart

Fresh fruit salad

N.B. the Lit & Phil office have to inform venues of catering numbers approximately 7 days before an event so please make sure you book as early as possible to avoid disappointment.