Jonathon Porritt joins campus panel discussion


Low carbon technologies such as solar power could support almost the entire global economy by 2050, environmentalist Jonathon Porritt told an alumni audience at the University of Leeds last night.

Porritt, whose prominent roles include co-founder of Forum for the Future and former director of Friends of the Earth, joined University of Leeds researchers Professor Andy Gouldson and Professor Andy Shepherd in a panel discussion Repositioning the Climate Change Debate in the Clothworkers Centenary Hall.

Porritt said unlike the low carbon technology boom and bust of the 1970s and early 1980s, the recent surge in development and adaptation of these technologies showed resilience. Not only were rich countries investing in low carbon industries, but there was significant take-up in India, Brazil, Africa and particularly China.

“We could get to the point where solar power is completely competitive,” Porritt said. “As soon as we get costs right, then the opportunities are enormous.”

The event, which attracted 200 graduates, was chaired by Professor Jane Francis, Dean of the Faculty of Environment.

Professor Gouldson is Director of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and a key member of the Centre for Low Carbon Futures and the Centre for Integrated Energy Research. He is also Editor of Environmental Policy and Governance and a member of the expert advisory panel on social sciences for DEFRA and DECC.

Professor Shepherd is a member of the NERC National Centre for Earth Observation, coordinator of the European Space Agency VECTRA InSAR consortium, and a contributing author of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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Contact: University of Leeds Communications & Press Office: Tel +44 (0)113 343 4031, email