Parliamentary Reception: Energy Transition Risks and Opportunities

05 Jun 2024

As part of our ‘UKERC at 20’ celebrations we hosted a reception in the House of Lords, in collaboration with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Energy Studies.

The event, chaired by Lord Deben, presented three interlinked topics, which could either help or hinder the implementation of net zero. Peter Taylor set the context for the evening highlighting UKERC’s achievement of reaching twenty years of operation before introducing the three speakers, with Will Blyth focusing on investment, Jess Britton focusing on local and regional energy governance and Nick Pidgeon focusing on the role that community engagement must play in ensuring that the UK can keep up with the pace of low-carbon energy generation.

Speakers and attendees at the reception with Lord Deben in the foreground

Speakers and attendees at the reception


Will Blyth highlighted that meeting net zero will require huge, rapid investment in renewables, with policy design having a major impact on this investment, working particularly well when risks are allocated to those best able to manage them. Creating stable investment conditions helps investors plan for the scale and pace necessary to meet net zero and adapt to changing circumstances.

Will Blyth presenting at the reception

Will Blyth presenting at the reception

Local and regional energy governance

Jess Britton spoke about the importance of place-based approaches to accelerating net zero delivery, focusing on how UKERC evidence has evolved. She highlighted that whilst there is increasing policy activity, there is a lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities, particularly for local energy planning, which is holding back progress in this area.

Jess Britton presenting at the parliamentary reception

Jess Britton presenting at the reception

Public engagement

Nick Pidgeon outlined just how much needs to change to meet net zero, encompassing energy generation, industry, heating, travel and our relationship with the ‘stuff’ we consume. And as the UK transitions, people and communities will be key to success, whether as prosumers and consumers, or citizens navigating contestation. Nick highlighted the key role that UKERC has played in this space, from developing the forerunner to the Climate Assemblies to the more recent development of the Public Engagement Observatory.

Nick Pidgeon presenting at the reception

Nick Pidgeon presenting at the reception

Overview and three key asks

The event was a fantastic success, with many of our key stakeholders joining us for the evening. Following the speeches, Lord Deben chaired a Q&A session with wide-ranging questions posed, covering aspects such as the importance of getting the public on board, the role of communication and deliberative activities, and future topics that UKERC proposes to address.

Attendees at the parliamentary reception

Attendees at the parliamentary reception

Lord Deben then rounded off the evening with a rousing call, with three particular asks. The first being that we must get better at communicating net zero challenges and opportunities to citizens and communities. Communications and calls to action need to be rephrased so that they appeal to audiences immediately; too often people can switch off because of the language used if they feel that it doesn’t apply to them. Communications must clearly highlight the positive impact the transition to low-carbon energy can bring, such as cleaner air, reducing import dependence, and contributing to the fight against climate change.

Lord Deben also highlighted how we must make it easier for people to do the right thing. As an example, navigating the complexity of installing domestic low-carbon measures can be a minefield, even for those with sector specific knowledge. The implementation of net zero will include lots of different choices, with varying benefits, risks, and price tags, so it is imperative that these are clearly communicated to impacted communities, so they can make informed decisions.

Finally, Lord Deben asked attendees, most of whom work in the field of sustainability and energy, if they had met with their MP to discuss energy. Of the 60 attendees, only four raised their hands, highlighting that as an engaged audience working within the sector, who are concerned about the energy transition, we must do more. So, the call is to go and meet your MP to highlight that you, as a member of their constituency, think that energy issues and the transition to net zero are important, helping to raise the profile of sustainable energy as a topic that the electorate cares about.

Lord Deben speaking at the reception

Lord Deben speaking at the reception

Impact case studies

As part of our ‘UKERC at 20’ celebrations we also produced a series of case studies that show how UKERC has made a difference to UK energy research and policy over the current funding period. Access the case studies here.