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Reflections on the Inaugural Early Career Research Net Zero Conference and the work across C-DICE in 2022

Reflections on the Inaugural Early Career Research Net Zero Conference and the work across C-DICE in 2022

It can be quite easy, as a researcher, not to stray too far from our main disciplinary area but the danger of this is that we don’t see the bigger picture, or the place our research has in the wider ecosystem.  Broadening our field of view helps to give greater insights and inspiration, which is so important for productivity, creativity and creating impact from our research. Hence, when the opportunity arose to collaborate with seven other Centres, each researching different aspects of the decarbonisation challenge, and to co-deliver a conference for Early Career Researchers we saw an invaluable opportunity for C-DICE and the Energy Research Accelerator to be a part of. And it was fantastic!

The conference had well over 200 participants. It was a time of great energy and enthusiasm, for realism and optimism, and it was a wonderful opportunity for researchers to come together. Each and every researcher there was working towards new knowledge that will contribute to the challenge of decarbonisation, and every individual is part of that much wider, international, community of researchers and future leaders.

So, how are we doing in the journey to net zero? My main take-away from the conference is that there are considerable challenges remaining, but also hope, and progress being made. To sit in a room of 250 people dedicated to tackling our biggest research and innovation challenges, to feel the energy and buzz and motivation to move forward made me feel optimistic about the future. So, the COP 27 process is far from perfect, but at least dialogue is underway. The challenges ahead are systemic and tricky, but at least we’re making headway on some of the ‘low hanging fruit’.

C-DICE will continue to innovate and support researchers in having the right skills to tackle decarbonisation. This includes interdisciplinary working through our sandpits, training programmes, Fellowships, placements and secondments. We look forward to working with many researchers from across the UK to develop their skills and networks and, bit-by-bit, to tackle the decarbonisation and, by working together as part of that community we will make progress. We’re collecting feedback and hope to be involved in a future collaborative conference with our friends and partners across the UK.

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