Fixing the system: how to take a systems approach to Net Zero
I spend a lot of time with systems engineers. They are an annoying bunch, by and large. Always telling me (or anyone else who dares venture an opinion, for that matter), that we have not considered all the elements of a problem. That we need to think about the whole system (they even say it like it is in italics). Even if you demonstrate you have thought about the whole system, they then suddenly tell you it is actually a systems of systemsproblem. And then you give up and go spend some time with economists for a bit of light relief…
But despite the relentless tedium of their company, if I could give my former Government self — close to the minister, ambitious for decarbonisation that maintains popular support, massive worrier about the risks of a rapidly changing energy sector — one piece of advice, it would be this: ‘spend more time with systems engineers’. Because good strategy, and a good strategy for future energy policy, would benefit hugely from adopting a systems approach.
The energy system or energy systems (see, I was listening) is/are hugely complex (note the important difference between complicated and complex). The interactions between different actors and parts of the system bewilder even seasoned energy sector observers or participants. It is part of what makes energy and climate such an enthralling intellectual challenge.