Transitioning to new energy systems: What impact will it have on society and on our lives?

Transitioning to new energy systems: What impact will it have on society and on our lives?

On 11 October, an international audience of 150 people joined our panel of experts to discuss the impact that moving away from fossil fuels to new energy sources may have on our lives.

This online event was organised by SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) and Academia Europaea.

You’ll find an overview of the webinar and key points from the speakers below, together with a recording of the event for those who were unable to attend or would like to watch again.


Energy transition is not just about new technologies and innovation. Our current lifestyles are also contributing to energy and climate problems, and the move away from fossil fuels towards different energy systems will impact on everyone in society.

Change has to be fair and inclusive. It requires public engagement and active participation across the whole of society. Addressing these issues is even more important given the context of the upcoming global climate conference, COP26, and Europe’s goal to meet net zero emission of greenhouse gases by 2050.

This webinar, chaired and moderated by Professor Ole Petersen MAE, Vice-President of Academia Europaea, saw our panel of experts discuss these critical issues and answer questions from the audience.

Image of the five speakers and chair of the webinar taking part in the zoom webinar


  • Our next two speakers were SAPEA Energy Working Group Members – Professor Diana Urge-Vorsatz MAEDirector of the Center for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Policy, Central European University; and Professor Benjamin Sovacool MAE, Professor of Energy Policy, University of Sussex. Using the SAPEA Evidence Review Report as a starting point, Professor Urge-Vorsatz discussed the inequalities in emissions across Europe and the value of avoided energy use. Professor Sovacool focused on the impact simple behaviour changes can have and the importance of balancing technological innovation and behaviour change for low-carbon transition.
  • Professor Nick Pidgeon, Professor of Environmental Psychology and Risk, Cardiff University, emphasised how involving the whole of society will be critical in the energy transition and that successful behaviour change approaches to reduce energy consumption will require elements such as good communications, infrastructure change and investment, and that regulation may also be needed.
  • Professor Eystein Jansen MAE, Professor of Earth Sciences / Paleoclimatology, University of Bergen and Member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council, referred to the recent IPCC report and the sense of urgency to act on climate change. He described the challenges he saw ahead, expressing his concern that by setting goals for net zero emission of greenhouse gases by 2050, we may postpone necessary short-term actions, given that emissions need go down now.

Discussion and Q&As

The speakers’ presentations were followed by a lively Q&A session, where members of the audience had the opportunity to put their questions to the panel.  Questions covered a variety of themes, including energy demand in emerging economies , the scarcity of essential resources, and whether enough work is being carried out in schools or universities to raise awareness of energy and climate issues.

Watch the webinar

About the webinar

Find out more about ‘A systemic approach to the energy transition in Europe’. The SAPEA Evidence Review Report and the Scientific Opinion by the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors are available to read on the SAPEA website.

You may also be interested in this item

Cardiff maps EU policy landscape for major new energy report

A team at Cardiff University has mapped the European policy landscape for the SAPEA Evidence Review Report on energy transition. Find out more about their work.

Updated 14th October 2021. For further information please contact

Share this page: