The recent ratification of the Paris Agreement by the United States and China has obliged two of the world’s biggest polluting countries to implement measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from 2020 onwards. This achievement reiterates the importance of the work of Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith (1942, United Kingdom) and his concerns for the consequences of rapid worldwide growth of energy consumption, leveraged by rising living standards and changing patterns of consumption in developing countries.
The physicist and former director of CERN is currently head of the University of Oxford’s Department of Energy Research, where important research and development work is being conducted into new forms of energy. In conversation with Orfeu Bertolami, full-time professor at the University of Porto’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, he will discuss how we need to de-carbonise the planet in order to reduce atmospheric pollution. He will also address the importance of changing the relationship between oil-importing and oil-exporting countries and reducing or, at least, moderating climate change. He himself believes that this task is particularly difficult, if not impossible, given current technology and the price that societies are (or aren’t) willing to pay. Avoiding a doomsday approach, Professor Llewellyn Smith will talk about the progress that has been made in terms of decarbonisation, before analysing the technical and economic issues and political challenges that we face given the urgent need to guarantee a sustainable future.