Infrastructure and Environment Panel Debate



February, 2018

Moderator Maria Carvalho opened Warwick Congress’ first ever panel debate, “Infrastructure and Environment: New Problems Call for New Solutions” by introducing our speakers Chris Huhne, Georg Kasperkovitz, Michael Lewis and Suleman Alli. The overarching themes introduced were ocean pollution, energy efficiency and political agreements. The panel started with each speaker offering their unique views from the different perspectives of business, politics and economics.

“We have gone far enough to tackle climate change for it to be reversed by someone or a state” 

– Chris Huhne

Georg Kasperkovitz touched on the expectations of sustainability in response to the dangerous levels of ocean plastic. By 2050 it is predicted that there will be 250 million tons of plastic in the ocean – more plastic in our oceans than fish. Mr. Kasperkovitz urged that this problem is a dangerous and a global one: efforts to rectify this will stagnate or even regress due ‘pointing the finger’ attitudes. Suleman Alli followed by emphasising that despite these current issues, there has been an impressive record on renewables, including a huge boom in battery storage enabling us to now store renewable energy. Mr. Alli affirmed that the 140 thousand electric vehicles in the UK currently will only continue to grow, and this is evidence that we are successfully aligning new technology with strategies to enable a cleaner future.

Chris Huhne corresponded with Mr. Alli, stating we should not underestimate the progress we have made in terms of renewables. From a political perspective, Mr. Huhne focused on the Paris Agreement, and how this provides us with an identifiable model of how an international agreement can tackle a problem. Trump pulling out of the accord is not devastating news as “we have gone far enough to tackle climate change for it to be reversed by someone or a state”. Although we are heading in a positive direction, the real problem is one of speed, as “we are dealing with a situation where a clock is ticking”. Michael Lewis coincided with this view by adding that the success in renewables is due to strong policy levels within the EU offering a stable framework by which governments are able to endure. We are now in a time where, economically, renewable energy is cheaper to sustain than non-renewable, so “this is why Trump’s decision will not be followed”.

The panel debate concluded with each of our panelists offering their advice to students entering the workplace. Mr. Alli emphasised that students “take an interest in the outside world to develop individual opinions”. Mr. Huhne ended on the note that “if you’re happy in your work, there is no doubt you will excite and motivate”.


Written by Mia Daoudi.

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