“Often we slip into the habit of saying 'this all terribly complicated' because that makes us sound important. And often it's not entirely true. I mean, there's a lot about the climate issues, it's really very, very simple. And we need to get that across to people.”
Oxford Net Zero is an interdisciplinary research initiative based at the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (SSEE). It is embedded within the ecosystem of research on climate neutrality. Their research fellows, recruited from partner institutions from around the world, are working to accelerate the transition to a net zero future.
In this series of conversations, you’ll hear about the work these experts are focused on and how their research can be applied to business. You’ll also get to hear their personal stories and achievements you wouldn’t otherwise read in their bio, where they get their inspiration and even what kind of music is on their playlist! Tune in to this series if you’re looking to be inspired, excited and hopeful about the important research underway at Oxford in creating a net zero pathway for the world.
Interviewee: Prof Myles Allen, Leader of the Climate Research Programme, Professor of Geosystem Science in the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford
Interviewer: Charmian Love, Social Entrepreneur in Residence at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford
Key takeaways from the conversation
Where does Myles go as a source of energy and inspiration?
Myles found inspiration during lockdown during walks with his dog – a chance to be away from screens and not able to take notes or write things down. This has helped him construct what he understands about something in his head as simply as he can.
Myles also has a history of following his heart. A key step in his journey was being hosted at MIT by Richard Lindzen – a step he took because his fiancé at the time was invited to do her postdoc at Harvard – so he had to find something to do in Boston!
When pressed he’ll also share that his music tastes were forged in his student days in the 80s with bands like Blondie.
What big questions is Myles exploring?
A lot of Myles’ work in the 2000s was on carbon dioxide and the fact that cumulative carbon dioxide emissions drive global temperatures - which is why we need to get to net zero. Fast forward and a lot of his work over the past few years has been around how we bring other greenhouse gases into that equation. To do this, Myles has been spending time working out how to do that so that everyone can understand how different activities affect our global temperature.
How would Myles like to see businesses engage in climate?
Myles believes for most businesses it’s about carbon. And that what is needed is remarkably simple - businesses have got to work out how to get their carbon dioxide emissions to net zero. Recently Myles has been drawn into the discussions of offsetting, because it's becoming a big issue in business planning for net zero.
What advice does Myles have for students?
Myles’ big concern is that 80% of our effort at the moment is being spent on 20% of the problem. And the 80% of the problem, which is fossil co2 emissions, is getting the wrong level of effort. So, Myles encourages young people to think about how they can engage in these issues through their careers and through their work. Ultimately, it is about making the most difference to this fundamental challenge - stopping fossil fuels from causing global warming.
Interested in learning more about Climate Net Zero? Check out the available resources from Oxford Net Zero.