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by Sofia Villegas
15 December 2023
Scottish university becomes tech hub for reaching sustainable energy targets

Scotland aims to reach net zero by 2045 | Alamy

Scottish university becomes tech hub for reaching sustainable energy targets

The University of Glasgow has launched a centre to help the world transition to net zero.  

The Glasgow Centre for Sustainable Energy will develop technology to enable energy services and infrastructure reach environmental targets affordably. 

Speaking to Holyrood, Professor Gioia Falcone, director of the centre, said the site will work on interdisciplinary methods to ensure the “transition to more sustainable energy solutions does not leave anyone behind”. 

Bringing a range of academics and decades-long worth of Glasgow university’s research “under the same umbrella”, the centre will work to gauge how such solutions may intersect with the social, political, and economic changes needed for sustainable energy transitions. One of its focal points will be to devise strategies to ensure everyone can have a say on and access to future energy solutions. 

Falcone also said the centre will look at long-lasting solutions, which can stay up to date with global challenges, ensuring the site is “something new and positively impactful”. 

“It's not just coming up with fun technical solutions that are going to be non-sustainable in the long term. We really have to think now about how to avoid unintended consequences for the future. 

“I don't want to have a solution that says ‘Look, I've cut emissions, but to do so we have damaged something else’- for example, we have taken away precious land from agriculture or from biodiversity. 

“We have to make sure that we are not just aiming for mathematical net zero carbon emissions. I would like us to be able to have quantitative KPIs [key performance indicators] to say ‘Yes, this centre has contributed to accompanying Scotland, the UK and hopefully the world to incremental steps towards net zero without causing any harm along the way’.” 

The centre will become “a hub” for collaboration, Falcone continued, with plans for it to partner with communities, governments and industry worldwide as well as relevant decision-makers including the United Nations and UK Research & Innovation. 

“There's no point in us working in isolation. We haven't done it so far. We don't intend to start doing it now.

“We need to learn about what other partners are proposing, see where we can add value and where we can add neutrality and transparency.”  

Describing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s U-turn in net-zero targets and the Scottish Government’s postponement of its climate change plan as “discouraging” and “dangerous”, Falcone warned that an unclear strategy will “put off spirits, investment and commitment”. 

She said: “I am very concerned about the fact that governments such as the UK government and the Scottish Government haven't told us a sufficiently specific route to net zero.  

 “I don't think you can just let it happen by magic.  

“I think we need to have a plan A, a plan B and a plan C telling us exactly what needs to happen in order to work towards net zero.”   

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