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What’s going to keep the lights on?


Dr Michael Pollitt discusses the use of fossil fuels at this year’s Guardian Open Weekend

A lampDr Michael Pollitt, Director of Programmes at Cambridge Judge Business School, joined a panel of guest speakers to debate on the effects of continually using fossil fuels at this year’s Guardian Open Weekend.

Guest speakers from around the world joined The Guardian‘s own writers, editors, digital developers and photographers to participate in over 200 programmed sessions, a mix of debates, talks, workshops, music, comedy and poetry readings at Kings Place in London over the weekend of 24 and 25 March 2012.

Dr Pollitt was joined by Damian Carrington, Head of Environment at the Guardian, Ed Davey, MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion and Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, in a discussion called ‘What’s going to keep the lights on?’ which looked at how and when we are going to wean ourselves off fossil fuels.

In his speech, Dr Pollitt covered three key principles – the successful experience with privatised electricity and gas markets, the incentive regulation of energy networks, which has delivered prolonged cost reductions and improved quality of service, and why we need to properly price carbon dioxide emissions.

In his conclusion, he said: “The only credible UK energy strategy is one based on sound economic principles. In turn the UK should seek to promote these principles at the EU (and global) level.

The lights won’t go out as long as wholesale and retail power markets continue to function free from price controls. However, this will likely be in spite of government energy policies, not because of them.”

Dr Pollitt is also a University Reader in Business Economics at Cambridge Judge Business School and is an Assistant Director of the Electricity Policy Research Group (EPRG). He is a Fellow and Director of Studies in Economics and Management at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, as well an economist with particular interests in the efficiency and regulation of network utilities. He has published nine books and over 40 refereed journal articles on efficiency analysis, energy policy and business ethics. He is also the leader of the Energy and Environment Research Group at Cambridge Judge Business School and the coach of the Energy and Environment concentration on the Cambridge MBA.