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Reality check – the energy, water, air and soil on which we depend

About this event

Our lives depend on the four elements – water, air, fire (energy) and earth (soil and land). Human activity is having a significant impact on all four – our choice of energy supply has led to the present climate emergency; our disregard for ‘earth’ and the ecosystems on which we depend through deforestation and increasingly industrialised farming methods has led to the present ecological emergency and the increased risk of pandemics; our assumption that water is free and limitless has encouraged us to develop in parts of the world and also in those parts of the UK which are most water challenged and a cavalier attitude to protecting water quality – only 14% of our rivers are ecologically sound - and the way that we manage water is energy-intensive; we have ignored air quality in our cities to the point where unnecessary numbers of people are dying as a result. Time for a reality check?

First energy – we know that we must achieve net-zero carbon by 2050 which, in effect, means taking significant action by 2030. We have to decarbonise supply and reduce demand. How much are our future energy sources influenced by vested interests? How do we ensure that the best long term decisions are made?

Secondly, water – we have to protect the resource and accommodate ourselves to its limits and forget unrealistic ambitions to move water from one part of the country to another.

Thirdly, air – this will not be completely resolved by moving from the combustion engine to electric vehicles.

Fourthly, we need to recognise the need to keep our soils healthy for greater food security, but also to value soil and not make good agricultural land compete with development.

How should the ‘elements’ respond to our 3 questions on i) what are we learning from our time of lockdown and beyond to change both as individuals and professionals? ii) What do we keep and what do we change in the industry? iii) If we embrace change, what is our vision for the future? If we don’t, what are the risks?

Hear the following talks from our speakers:

Chair: Peter Head

  • Reality check on energy – Tadj Oreszczyn
  • Reality check on water – Allan Simpson
  • Reality check on air quality – William Bloss
  • Reality check on soil – Ellen Fay

This will be followed by a live Q&A session, where you can pose your questions to our experts.

In partnership with:

Webinar chair:

Peter Head, Founder and CEO, Ecological Sequestration Trust

Hosted by

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    Ellen Fay Founder and Executive Director @ Sustainable Soils Alliance

    Ellen Fay co-founded the Sustainable Soils Alliance in 2017. She has a background in environmental conference organisation and previous to that, as an international conference interpreter.

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    Sue James Chartered Architect and member of the Edge

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    Tadj Oreszczyn Professor of Energy and Environment @ UCL Energy Institute

    Tadj was founding Director of the UCL Energy Institute and established the RCUK Centre for Energy Epidemiology. He currently leads the building theme for the UK Centre for Research in Energy Demand Solutions and is Principle Investigator of the research council Smart Energy Research Lab.

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    William Bloss Professor of Atmospheric Science @ University of Birmingham

    William is Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Birmingham. He leads the West Midlands-Air project, a 5-year programme of activities to apply environmental science expertise in support of improved regional air quality, health and economic growth.

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    Allan Simpson Strategic Growth Manager @ Anglian Water

    Allan leads on housing and economic growth for Anglian Water Services. Trained as a chartered spatial planner, he has background in water policy, infrastructure planning and sustainability. Allan is also a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and holds an MBA from Warwick Business School.

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    Peter Head Founder and CEO @ Ecological Sequestration Trust

    Peter is a civil and structural engineer and champion of sustainable development. He established the Ecological Sequestration Trust in 2011. In 2008 he was named by the Guardian Newspaper as one of 50 people that could ‘save the planet’.