Sussex youths debate solutions to climate change

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Two teams of Sussex sixth-formers will debate the best way to tackle climate change on 11 March at the University of Sussex. One team of 16-18 year olds will argue for a technological fix for climate change, while the other team will claim that people must change their behaviour to solve the problem. The debate is part of the Festival of Social Science which is organised by the Economic and Social Research Council from 6-15 March 2009.

A panel of experts will judge the teams and award £500 of book vouchers to the best debaters. Before the debate, the two teams will spend a day with the Sussex Energy Group - a research group investigating how to make the UK's energy system sustainable. This preparatory day will help the students learn about scientific research as well as improve their debating skills so they can make the case for one of two solutions to climate change:

  1. A technological solution: Climate change can only be solved through adopting a broad range of lower carbon and carbon emissions free technologies. For example, renewable energy, capturing and storing carbon emissions from power stations, hybrid and electric cars, and making buildings more energy efficient.
  2. A social solution: Climate change can only be solved if people change their lifestyles. For example, people need to recycle, drive less, walk or cycle more, be more careful about how they light and heat our homes, and eat locally produced food.    

The debate will be held in the Freeman Centre at the University of Sussex at 15.00 on 11 March. The audience made up of researchers, politicians, business people, members of the public, and activists as well as family and friends of the debaters will be encouraged to join in the debate. The event can also be listened to or viewed at the debate website.

"The debate will give all participants an insight into climate change and the multi-faceted approach required to deal with it," said Mr Andy Wilson, the event organiser and research coordinator at the Sussex Energy Group. "It promises to be a lively event with ample opportunity for attendees to meet with key players from local and national environmental organisations."

The panel of judges will include:

  • Prof Robert Allison, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Sussex
  • Prof John Chesshire, Chairman of the Steering Board, Sussex Energy Group
  • Thurstan Crockett, Head of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Sustainability and Environmental Policy    

For further information contact

Members of the public who would like to attend the event should register by contacting:

ESRC Press Office:

Notes for editors

  1. The Festival of Social Science is run by the Economic and Social Research Council to celebrate some of the country’s leading social science research, giving an exciting opportunity to show everyone what the UK's social scientists are doing and demonstrating how their work makes a difference to all our lives. A programme of events can be found at the Festival website
  2. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It supports independent, high quality research which impacts on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's planned total expenditure in 2008/09 is £203 million.  At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and research policy institutes.
  3. ESRC website offers free access to a broad range of social science research and presents it in a way that makes it easy to navigate and saves users valuable time. As well as bringing together all ESRC-funded research and key online resources such as the Social Science Information Gateway and the UK Data Archive, non-ESRC resources are included, for example the Office for National Statistics. The portal provides access to early findings and research summaries, as well as full texts and original datasets through integrated search facilities.
  4. The Sussex Energy Group researches how we can move to a sustainable energy economy. Although climate change is a significant factor, there are many other reasons why we need to address the energy transition, including security of supply, fuel poverty and the opportunities offered by innovations such as renewable energy resources, distributed generation and combined heat and power. The group undertakes academically excellent research that is also relevant to the needs of policy-makers and practitioners.