Early Career Symposium on ‘Energy Transitions in Asia – Towards a Research and Policy Agenda’
From Sept. 22 to Sept. 24, the early career Symposium on ‘Energy Transitions in Asia – Towards a Research and Policy Agenda’ was held at the Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NIGLAS) in association with Klimate Research Institute for Sustainable Habitat (KRISH). The event was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). More than 15 scholarly experts and early career researchers from home and foreign universities participated in the symposium. The speakers span a broad range of expertise including climate change impact scientists, social scientists, political scientists, planners, economists, and urban planners, and represented internationally reputed universities, including Oxford University, Boston University, Harvard University, University of Buffalo, Trinity College Dublin, and domestically well-known universities, including Nanjing University and Renmin University of China.
The forum attracts experts and young scholars from home and abroad.
Dr. Komali Yenneti, Chair of the symposium, delivered the welcome address. She highlighted that as Asia undergoes rapid and intense socioeconomic transformations in the post-carbon era, more understanding is required on the politics and practice of energy transitions in Asia to drive Asia region in the sustainable path to a low-carbon futures. This objective was the major driver of the symposium.
Wen Chen, director of Research Centre for Regional Development and Planning, NIGLAS gave an opening keynote speech on energy production-consumption and its environmental impact in the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) region. She congratulated the organizing of the symposium and believed it can benefit the research, policy making and application related to energy and climate change.
Qin Bo, head of the department of urban planning and management gave a talk on urban spatial restructuring for low-carbon energy transition in China and discussed on how spatial planning and urban spatial restructuring concepts can be a new beginning for urban low-carbon energy transition. Junjie Zhang, founding director of the environmental research center and master of environmental policy (iMEP) program at Duke Kunshan University delivered a keynote talk on forecasting energy consumption in China. He discussed energy consumption and its emission in China in comparison to the United States of America (USA), and argued that while China will continue to increase energy consumption, it will not peak its carbon emissions before 2020.
During the second part of the symposium, more than 10 scholars (PhD students, early career researchers, and professorial level experts) from distinguished universities and institutes delivered talks on various topics related to energy transitions in Asia and drawing on the themes
1. Carbon lock-in and spatial planning
2. Decentralized energy systems
3. Energy innovations and futures
4. Energy transitions and scale
5. Energy transitions and governance
All the participants had an open and interactive discussion about the future research topics, collaboration opportunities, and how the symposium can provide an opportunity for making a difference in the area of energy and low-carbon futures. They agreed that the researchers working on Asia should make full use of its regional advantages, enhance the connection with other researchers, and acquire more resources to expand the energy transitions research in Asia. The symposium was closed with a presentation of Dr. Komali Yenneti on the world history and research on energy transitions, and best paper award. Dr. Daniel B. Hess from the University of Buffalo won the best paper prize and was awarded by Dr. Komali Yenneti, the chair of the symposium. During the closing session, Dr. Komali Yenneti unveiled the establishment of Asia-Pacific Energy Research Network and the future special issue on the symposium, research and collaboration opportunities. She also presented that the Asia-Pacific Energy Research Network will be dedicated to the research on energy transitions, energy justice, and energy futures in Asia-Pacific.
While in Nanjing, some of the foreign participants participated in the fieldtrip and visited the Sun Yat- Sen Mausoleum, Xiaoling Mausoleum of the first Ming emperor, Purple Mountain, Nanjing Museum, and Nanjing Massacre Museum. They had a discussion on the great history of Nanjing and the past and current international wars for energy.
The transition in energy systems has been playing an important role in sustainability and associated policy making in Asia over the recent decades. The local governments continuously look for a practical and sustainable path to a low-carbon future – reducing emissions in an economically attractive, socially acceptable, low-risk and technically feasible manner. This need a renewed research focus on energy transitions in Asia. The symposium and the launching of the Asia Pacific Energy Research Network would be a new beginning for energy research in Asia and beyond. The symposium highlighted the width and scope of energy transitions and futures research, connected world major research institutes and universities, and hopfully make a great significance in the future, not only for the research, but also for decision making and practice in Asia and beyond.