THE OXFORD ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT FESTIVAL
NOVEMBER 12 - 18 1998
The Festival followed the Consultation at Windsor Castle last September in which ways to "bridge the gap between expert knowledge and public understanding" on energy and environment issues were explored. Many ideas for workshops at the Festival emerged and several of the invited guests came to the Festival to run the workshops and give talks.
All 27 events ran according to the timetable. Attendances were good from outside the University - from schools, environmental bodies, businesses and members of the public. Attendances from within the University were variable. The Millennium Debate has received very positive feedback following the Festival and several ongoing initiatives are being developed.
The standard of speakers and participants was exceptionally high. The opening event was chaired by the Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Graham Upton. The Keynote Address was given by Lord Marshall of Knightsbridge, Chairman of British Airways and Chairman of the Governments Energy Task Force, focusing on his recently published report to the Government on energy efficiency in industry. This was his first public speaking engagement following the reports publication. This was something of a perfectly timed coup, especially as it was concurrent with the closing stages of the UN Climate Control Summit in Buenos Aires. Dr Evan Harris MP (LibDem, Oxford West and Abingdon) welcomed Lord Marshall to Oxford, Sir Julian Rose spoke for the Millennium Debate and two Brookes student representatives, Sarah Brown (Undergraduate, 2nd Year English Literature) and Alexander Hutchinson (MSc Architecture), also made impressive and thought provoking speeches. Dr Sue Roaf, senior lecturer in Environmental Science and member of the Millennium Debate Advisory Board, made the summing up speech. The event was attended by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor Beryl Keen, and a number of City and County Councillors.
Local well-known environmentalists contributed to the Festival by running workshops and attending events, in particular: Oliver Tickell, Cllr Craig Simmons, Nicky Chambers, Local Agenda 21 Officer Clare Symonds and Oxford alternative video makers Undercurrents. Senior Brookes Lecturer Stuart Jauncey ran a workshop on sustainability in the catering industry. John Forte and Sir Julian Rose helped to run the workshop. Each workshop is described below.
Outside guest speakers were headlined by Robert Swan OBE, the polar explorer. He left his audience enthralled. He had waived his usual £5,000 fee for this appearance. Expectations ran high, as Robert Swan was listed by Time Magazine as one of the ten most inspirational speakers in the world. Those attending could understand why. Tim Boswell MP, Shadow Energy Minister, gave up an afternoon to run a workshop at Headington Hill Hall on Conservative energy policy. Internet design expert and author Bob Cotton organised a New Media workshop which ran into three days.
Other guest speakers included Richard D. North, the provocative Daily Express columnist who offered fresh, funny and untypical insights into environmentalism, Aubrey Meyer of the Global Commons Institute and Dr Doug Parr of Greenpeace UK. From Brookes, Dr Sue Roaf, architect of the Oxford solar house, also gave a rousing and inspirational talk. The London based company Green Screen provided the films for the festival, all of which highlighted various aspects of the energy issue.
The festival also attracted some media interest, with an article in The Guardian and slots on BBC radio and Sky TV. Broadcaster/local entrepreneur Bill Heine dedicated a section of his Thames FM radio programme to the festival, and took part in a panel discussion following the film Lessons of Darkness.
In Oxford city itself, Blackwells bookshop ran an exhibition of energy literature, and Oxford City Council ran an Energy Surgery with free low energy light bulbs for participants. The environmental debate sponsored by Shell and held at the Oxford Union drew over 500 people and again, the quality of the speakers was outstanding. About 50 Brookes students without Union Society membership attended, taking advantage of a special one-off concession, arranged by the Millennium Debate.
With hindsight, it was thought that weeks seven/eight, although coinciding with the Buenos Aires UN Earth Summit, was a particularly busy week for students. It did become obvious, however, that the environmental issue is simply not one that students feel to be a priority. Much of the work following the festival will entail looking into how to engage young people and create a mechanism for highlighting the subjects urgency and importance. Average attendance figures are listed below.
Due to tying in the dates of the Festival to UN Earth Summit the Festival was organised with less time than everyone would have liked. With more time for outside publicity, communication and forward planning within schools/departments, possible integration of Festival events with course work, a second Oxford Energy and Environment Festival could become a formidable event on the national environmental calendar.
Opening event November 12th c100
Footprinting Workshop November 12th 18
Undercurrents Films & Discussion November 12th 22
Robert Swan "Icetalk" November 13th 90
Dr Sue Roaf Lecture November 13th c50
Tim Boswell MP Policy workshop November 13th 9
Agenda 21 workshop November 13th 18
Sustainability in Catering w/shop November 13th 15
Werner Hertzog Film& Discussion November 13th 23
Bob Cotton New Media w/shop November 16th 18
Richard D North lecture November 17th 37
Aubrey Meyer lecture November 17th 35
Oxford Union Debate November 17th c500
Dr Doug Parr/ Greenpeace lecture November 18th 38
Christianity & Environment w/shop November 18th 8
Wind Turbines Film & Discussion November 18th 26
Alternative Earth Summit November 18th 17
Other films 10-40
Chair: Professor Graham Upton, Vice Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University,
Introduction: Sir Julian Rose on behalf of the Millennium Energy Debate
Welcome: Dr Evan Harris MP (LibDem, Oxford West and Abingdon)
The Keynote Address: Lord Marshall, Chairman of British Airways and Chairman of HM Governments Energy Task Force
Student responses: Sarah Brown, Undergraduate, 2nd Year English Literature. Alexander Hutchinson, MSc course, School of Architecture
Summing up: Dr Sue Roaf, senior lecturer in Environmental Science and member of the Millennium Energy Debate Advisory Board
The event was attended by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor Beryl Keen, and a number of City and County Councillors.
Oxford Union Debate
Alternative Earth Summit
LECTURES AND TALKS
Robert Swan "Icetalk"
Dr Sue Roaf Lecture
Richard D North lecture
Aubrey Meyer lecture
Dr Doug Parr/ Greenpeace lecture
Fun with Footprinting
Green Party County Councillor, Craig Simmons (MD of Best Foot Forward), Nicky Chambers and Oliver Tickell introduced those at the workshop to the technique of footprinting. They explained there is an increasing need to be able to measure empirically not just the qualitative but the quantitative impact we have on the environment. Footprinting is a technique with which such impact is measured in land: a footprint is the amount of land needed to sustain any item or activity. The organisers took this opportunity to develop a game in which participants traded in vital commodities such as energy and raw materials, to discover their own footprints.
Tim Boswell MP, Energy Policy workshop
Shadow Energy Minister, Tim Boswell MP and Millennium Debate Executive Organiser, Ray Foulk, led students in a thorough-going discussion on the critical energy issues facing legislators. Transport was highlighted as an area in which public interest was perhaps strongest and at the same among the most controversial. Legislative measures to encourage electric cars, for instance, were considered. Tim Boswell outlined HM Opposition "energy policies" and spoke in some detail about his view of the Governments difficulties in reconciling their stated policies with actions.
Local Agenda 21 Workshop
Oxford City Local Agenda 21 Officer, Clare Symonds, ran this workshop to " increase peoples understanding of sustainable development and encourage community action". The exercises used were designed to discover peoples visions for a better quality of life for the future. Individuals thought through what they would like for a better Oxford in the year 2020, and then worked towards a consensus on these themes. Issues highlighted were renewable energy, greener transport, improving our work and better communication. In the final discussion people said what they were going to do towards sustainability. These included cycling and walking to school more often and growing their own vegetables. Some participants were impressed by the techniques used in the workshop that encourage listening and participation skills and made a pledge to listen more to others.
Workshop: Sustainability in the Hotel and Catering Industry
Surprisingly perhaps, one of the departments most interested in environmental subjects is Hotel and Catering Management. John Forte, Sir Julian Rose, Rebecca Hawkins and Brookes senior lecturer, Stuart Jauncy led a workshop in which the business sense of thinking green was highlighted. From small examples like switching Little Chef cafes from serving their milk in individual portion containers to jugs, thereby saving £400,000 per annum, to considering what a completely sustainable hotel would be, the discussion was lively and varied. The Oxford Brooks Department is keen to become not just the top school for Hotel and Catering Management in Britain, but the greenest, and discussion led towards the feasibility of developing an exemplary kitchen in the school.
Workshop: New Media led by Bob Cotton
Ideas for creating a virtual utopia, or changing the world for the better through the internet and new media, were explored in this workshop. Taking part: actor/author/poet, Heathcote Williams, and Patrick Woodward, a senior Advertising Consultant, all of whom also waived their usual fees to appear. Initiatives from this workshop are continuing as part of the Millennium Debates on-going programme.
Christianity & Environment workshop
This workshop attempted to answer the riddle of why religions, and particularly Christianity, are notoriously uninterested in environmental issues when they would seem to be obvious audiences. Led by Alasdair Clayre of The Millennium Energy Debate, who studied Theology as an undergraduate, the discussion started with the view that, made in Gods image, Christians should protect and continue His Creation. There was some suggestion that environmental concern simply does not distinguish religions sufficiently for it to be pivotal to any one of them; that there is a feeling that God will take care of the situation, like "the pope and population"; and that the priority for Christians is to bring people to God, after which they are more likely to live in a way which is more loving of their neighbours, and that this is probably more relevant to Christians than the notion of continuing the creation.
FILMS AND DISCUSSIONS
Wind Turbines Film & Discussion
Undercurrents Films & Discussion
Werner Hertzog Film& Discussion
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