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Do we need the fossil fuel industry to help in the transition towards net zero?

Climate Change Panel Discussion

Date/Time: Thursday 28 October 2021, 5.30pm

Venue: This is an online event

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The UK government has set a target of net zero emissions by 2050 and recently announced a new plan to reduce the UK’s emissions by at least 68% by 2030. But how will we reach this target, and do we need the fossil fuel sector to assist in the transition? Ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, a panel of leading experts will debate these questions, exploring what role advisory bodies, government, science, finance and the fossil fuel industry, among others, have to play in our transition to alternative sources of energy.

Meet the panellists:

The Baroness Brown of Cambridge, Julia King, Chair of the Climate Change Committee's Adaptation Sub-Committee and a non-executive director of Ørsted and Ceres Power (fuel cell company)

Baroness Brown is an engineer and a Crossbench Member of the House of Lords, with extensive experience in industry and academia. Julia was Vice Chair of the Climate Change Committee for 12 years from 2008-2021 and continues to advise the UK Government as Chair of the Adaptation Committee of the CCC and as a member of the Hydrogen Advisory Council. She chairs The Carbon Trust and is a non-executive director of Orsted. She led the King Review on decarbonising transport (2007) for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.


Dr Marcus Richards, Executive Advisor at Boston Consulting Group LLP, Energy Sector

Dr Marcus Richards is an energy industry executive with more than 30 years of experience. He is currently an energy sector advisor to private equity firms and investment banks on investment and M&A transactions, as well being an Executive Advisor to the Energy Practice of the Boston Consulting Group LLP, focusing on the Middle East and Far East.  In addition to his energy sector interests, he holds the position non-executive director and strategic advisor to Newcastle-based wealth manager Tier One Capital plc.


Professor Sonia Seneviratne, Professor for Land-​Climate Dynamics, ETH Zurich

In her research Professor Sonia Seneviratne analyses climate extremes, land-​climate processes, and climate changes. Sonia has received several awards for her research, among others the Macelwane Medal of the American Geophysical Union (2013) and a consolidator grant of the European Research Council (ERC, 2014). She was an author on several reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and recently a lead author of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C global warming. Since 2018, she is a coordinating lead author of the 6th assessment report of the IPCC.


Professor Hayley Fowler, Professor of Climate Change Impacts, Newcastle University

Hayley Fowler is Professor of Climate Change Impacts at Newcastle University. Her research focuses on improved physical understanding of changing precipitation extremes and providing better projections for climate adaptation. She is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (2018) and a Royal Society Wolfson Research Fellow (2014-19) for her work on understanding climate change impacts on hydrological systems, extreme rainfall and flooding, following a Philip Leverhulme Prize (2011) and NERC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2006-10). She is co-chair of the Net Zero Task Force, part of Newcastle upon Tyne's Climate Change Convention. 


Leo Hickman, Editor and Director of CarbonBrief (Chair)

Leo Hickman is the editor and director of Carbon Brief, the award-winning website which specialises in climate change. He previously worked for 16 years as a journalist, editor and author at the Guardian newspaper. Before joining Carbon Brief, he was WWF-UK’s chief advisor on climate change. In 2013, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Exeter in recognition of his journalism. His books include A Life Stripped Bare, The Final Call and Will Jellyfish Rule the World?

Submit a question for our panel of experts:

A selection of pre-submitted questions from the audience will be put to our panel of experts during this event. Please send your name and question to by Monday 18 October for a chance to be included.

This event will be hosted on YouTube, registration is not required.

Find out more about Newcastle University’s Climate Action Plan and other COP26 events.

Chair of the Climate Change Committee's Adaptation Sub-Committee