Road to Bali for the International Student Energy Summit

Representing their countries of origin, five students from our MSc, attended the International Student Energy Summit 2015 in Bali, Indonesia earlier this year. In this blog post one of the students, Aleksandrs Svilans, gives us an insight into the meeting and the activities during the week.

The International Student Energy Summit (ISES) is a global forum designed to attract both graduate and undergraduate students from a variety of disciplines, nations, and institutions, with a common interest in addressing the increasingly complex and imminent global energy challenges.

Acknowledging the importance of future generations, who will inevitably bear responsibility for addressing these challenges, the summit aims to develop the students’ understanding of current issues in global energy management, to inspire them to tackle these issues, and to bring them together to engage with each other in a multidisciplinary and multinational environment—an environment not dissimilar to that of global energy.

From left to right: Imperial students Aleksandrs Svilans, Pietro Dalpane, Ademola Okuwoga, Dagoberto Cedillos Alvarado, Pol van der Pluijm.
From left to right: Imperial College London students Aleksandrs Svilans, Pietro Dalpane, Ademola Okuwoga, Dagoberto Cedillos Alvarado and Pol van der Pluijm

With speakers such as former under-secretary-general of the United Nations Ms. Noeleen Heyzer, managing director and chief operating officer of the World Bank Ms. Sri Mulyani, minister of energy and mineral resources of the Republic of Indonesia Mr. Sudirman Said, amongst others, the summit provided plenty of insight.

"The International Student Energy Summit (ISES)Located in Bali, Indonesia, this year’s theme was energy access, energy demand in emerging Asia, and the United Nations Climate Change Conference scheduled later this year. However the energy issues covered over the duration of the summit were numerous and diverse, including topics on markets and regulation, technology and innovation, and global energy dynamics.

From 10-13 June the delegates followed an intensive programme, complete with speeches, panels, and plenary sessions—making the task of finding spare time to enjoy the tropical climate a challenge.

Nearly one in five people have no access to electricity, with many more lacking modern cooking and heating. The energy access panel underscored the relationship between adequate energy supply and economic growth and highlighted key challenges regarding energy access in developing countries, noting that in some cases increasing energy access is conflicting with climate change agendas.

The second major panel session was on energy demand in Asia, which is the centre of growth in global energy and commodity demand. Energy demand in the region is expected to double by 2030, which will divert global energy flows and alter the geopolitics of global energy. This will pose major challenges for governments in the region, which will likely require multinational approaches.

A view from the crowd at ISES

Limited progress in Copenhagen in 2009 has increased the pressure on national governments to commit to significant emission reductions. The panel on the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris was centred on the contrast between what is expected from the conference, and what is required to address climate change.

There was consensus on the belief that no nation will delegate decisions to an international body, and that countries will come to an agreement, but not in legal form. Ultimately climate change is a global problem whereas national policies are governed by national interests. Indeed negotiations do not drive change, instead they reflect nations’ willingness to change. Furthermore a major issue is that climate change is often framed as an expensive and burdensome problem, although it cannot be characterised exclusively in economic terms.

The summit developed students’ understanding of global energy challenges, and ways they may be addressed, but it also provided the delegates with an opportunity to share their knowledge, experience, and perspective with other like-minded individuals.

More importantly perhaps, engaging with representatives from different disciplines, institutions and nations, provided the delegates with experience which is hard to acquire in other environments, an experience which is crucial in addressing the complex and multidimensional challenges in global energy.

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