Winter Lights report and presentations

The Winter Lights Forum was a fascinating day - not least because of the disruption caused by the Chilean ash cloud to the travel plans of many of the delegates.

“The disruption was an interesting example of how nature can intervene in our lives, says Dr Janet Stephenson, director of the Centre for the Study of Agriculture, Food and Environment (CSAFE) at the University of Otago.

“But I was very impressed to see how people stepped up and pulled together to arrange video conferencing at short notice, and at how well it worked.

View presentations from the forum. 

Discussions focussed on the role of fossil fuels in New Zealand’s energy future. Presentations ranged from a talk about the potential contribution of lignite (a brown coal), to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment speaking to her recent report questioning the mining of lignite. 

Other presentations focussed on the role of renewable energy, including social attitudes to new energy developments  A novel  event was a provocative series of short Pecha Kucha style talks, where people ‘looked back’ from 2050, and described how we had arrived from 2011. There was a focus on energy and climate change, with some gloomy about the inability of humans to take appropriate action, and others optimistic.    

 “The discussions were a real feature of the day, especially those in the afternoon where we were in smaller groups talking about issues such as lignite mining, smart grids and new transport systems.

Dr Stephenson believes that the transition to a low-carbon energy future offers significant opportunities for many businesses in New Zealand, as well as significant environmental and health benefits.

 “It was also valuable to discuss the role of NERI going forward and themes such as encouraging debate and sharing best practice and knowledge around the issues came through strongly.

“The Cafe Scientifique event chaired by Prof Bob Lloyd from Otago University was also very successful. It was good to see a large number of young people actively involved in the discussion.”

 

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