About the Seminar Series

PI: Dr. Darren McCauley (Lecturer in Sustainable Development & Geography)

Co-Is: Prof. Andy Plater (Chair in Physical Geography), Dr. Pete North (Reader in Human Geography) and Dr. Raphael Heffron (Lecturer in Energy Law)

ESRC Research grant code: ES/I001425/1

For further details, please contact dam7@st-andrews.ac.uk


There has been a distinct lack of research into the political consequences of a low carbon agenda (Scrase and Smith 2009). The move towards a low carbon future involves significant challenges for policy-making at every level (Hourcade and Crassous 2008). The much acclaimed Stern report in the UK reinforced this conclusion through declaring that “(c)limate change is the greatest market failure the world has ever seen” (Stern 2007: 3). Social researchers on climate change mitigation have shifted their focus from a relatively exclusive group of atmospheric scientists towards multi-level and multi-actor policy-making (Jordan 2001, Jordan and Lorenzoni 2007). The recent growth in nuclear energy throughout the world (and recently the UK – see Hawkins 2008) offers a unique opportunity to explore the political consequences (for civil society, businesses, politicians and individuals) and drivers (peak oil, changing public perceptions, security of energy) of pursuing a low carbon future on a Global, European, national and local level.

The seminar series evaluates, therefore, the multi-level political (and more broadly social) implications of including nuclear power in a low carbon agenda. The adoption of nuclear power is more than a scientific or indeed economic evaluation on capacity and potential. The UK Prime Minister recently commented “the nuclear question is absolutely central…(i)t is about the values of this global society we are trying to build and it is about the very idea of progress itself, about the foundations upon which we build our common security and a sustainable future for our planet” (Brown 2010). Technological (fusion and fission, waste disposal, construction delays, reactor safety) and related (cost issues including decommissioning, investment priorities, the proliferation of nuclear arms) issues are not directly addressed in one specific seminar. It is expected that such issues will emerge, to some extent, in all the debates listed below from forthcoming multidisciplinary (law, politics, history, human and physical geography and environmental sciences) ESRC seminars;

1) Energy Policy from an International Perspective (April 5th 2013, Stirling)

2) Nuclear Energy in the UK (November 1st 2013, Liverpool)

3) Energy, Nuclear and Subsidies (February 2014, Cambridge)