By Holly Giles | Deputy Editor
Professor Dieter Helm is an economist specialising in utilities, infrastructure, regulation and the environment with a focus on energy usage and climate change. He has been recognised on the New Years Honours List to receive a knighthood for services to “the environment, to energy and utilities policy”.
Dieter Helm is a fellow at the University of Oxford and has been the chairman for the government’s independent advisory body on natural capital, which describes natural assets such as forests and rivers and their conservation, since 2012. In this position he provides advice to the government on the sustainable use of these resources.
Helm has also provided advice for European governments, including the Energy Roadmap 2030 which explains the EU-wide targets and policy objectives for climate and energy use to be achieved by 2030.
Reflecting on the achievement Helm said:
“The recognition of a lifetime of work on public policy is a great honor. Over the last decade I have been working on the 15-year environment plan, which is now being integrated into the Environmental Bill going through Parliament. I also wrote the Cost of Energy Review, which is now being reflected in the Energy White Paper. These are examples of the intersection between academic research, government and business, which is not only the area that interests me most, but where there is the chance to make big things happen.”
Helm has also written numerous books on climate change and our personal energy usage. His latest book ‘Net Zero: How We Stop Causing Climate Change’ addresses the action we all need to take to tackle climate change at a personal, local, national and global level. He argues that people should pay based on how much carbon the products produce through a theory known as a ‘carbon price’ that would apply to everything from food to flights. Helm encourages readers to create carbon diaries to take personal responsibility for their actions and their own contribution to climate change.
Helm recognises that the biggest changes can be made through policies and business, but he confirms that everyone can make a difference and should take ownership for their own contribution. January is a time when people aim to improve and a possible resolution could be to take steps to reduce your carbon footprint. As explained by the BBC some of the top ways to reduce your personal carbon footprint are to reduce your car use and switch to public transport (where safe and possible), reduce your meat intake (you could try Veganuary) and, whilst it may seem a distant memory to many of us, avoid taking long-haul flights where possible by trying to holiday closer to home. Dr Diana Ivanova from Leeds University estimated that if people implemented these measures, it would save around nine tonnes of carbon dioxide per person per year.
Dieter Helm’s work reminds us that the big changes come from the top, but we can all make small changes everyday to counteract climate change. Cycling to work, having meat-free Mondays and reducing your plastic use all makes a difference in the fight to save our world.