SCPKU World Leaders Forum features Nobel laureate Steven Chu on climate change and clean energy

The Stanford Center at Peking University (SCPKU) held its second annual Lee Shau Kee World Leaders Forum at the center on Oct 13.  This year’s conference, titled “Climate Change and Clean Energy,” was keynoted by Dr. Steven Chu, the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology in the Medical School at Stanford University; the 12th U.S. Secretary of Energy; and co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics for laser cooling and atom trapping.  Two panel discussions with a diverse set of experts from academia, government, and industry were also part of the event.

After welcoming remarks by SCPKU Director Jean C. Oi and Xiamen University Dean of the School of Energy Research Ning Li, the conference kicked off with the first panel, “Paths to Clean Energy” which centered around two questions:  Is renewable energy feasible and how does China move away from coal as a dominant energy source?  The second panel, “Challenges and Opportunities to Clean Energy,” focused on barriers preventing China from being progressive on climate change.   China’s National Energy Advisory Committee, British Petroleum-China, and the U.S. Commission on Natural Resources Protection were among the organizations represented by panelists.

 

Panelists discuss climate change and clean energy at SCPKU's World Leaders Forum held October 13.
Courtesy of Stanford University

 

Steven Chu’s keynote wrapped up the forum, which touched on new data reflecting the risks of climate change and the need to continue progress on the development of clean energy.  Regarding the pressing issue of pollution, he cited data from a British study inferring that the risk of contracting lung cancer is 29x higher in Beijing than other cities and highlighted Stanford’s research on nano-fiber filtration as a possible solution.  Chu also spoke on the topic of energy storage and how the full cost of renewable energy needs to account for backup generation capacity, transmission and distribution systems, as well as the storage itself.  Two things, he said, will likely play large roles in the future: high voltage lines (HVDC), and machine learning, which will be needed for largely autonomous management of the electrical grid.  Nuclear energy will also be important to mitigate blackouts when transitioning to clean energy.  In closing, Chu shared a poignant phrase from ancient Native Americans: “We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” 
 

The purpose of the forum is to raise public understanding of the complex issues China and other countries face in the course of development.  Funded by a generous gift from the Lee Shau Kee Foundation, the forum seeks to increase support for Asia-Pacific cooperation and turn ideas into action.  

 

Steven Chu poses with SCPKU World Leaders Forum attendees after delivering keynote.
Courtesy of Stanford University

 

Reception following SCPKU's World Leaders Forum featuring the China National Symphony Orchestra Concert Quartet in
the center's courtyard.
Courtesy of Stanford University