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Lord Fox and Professor Philipp Thies

Exeter Scientist joins parliamentarian in 2022 Royal Society Pairing Scheme

Professor Philipp Thies, from the University of Exeter, was one of  a select group of UK Researchers and Scientists in took in new territory, namely the UK Parliament in Westminster. 

As part of the Royal Society’s annual Pairing Scheme, they have been shadowing 30 Parliamentarians and civil servants during a Week in Westminster.  The scheme brings together scientists and policymakers so that they can learn about each other’s worlds and explore how research can inform policy making.  

Prof Philipp Thies, Associate Professor in Renewable Energy has been paired with Lord Fox, who is the Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson for Business and Industrial Strategy and member of the Economic Affairs Committee.  

It has been a very timely visit for the scheme with an all party group event on Energy, hosted by the Parliamentary Renewable & Sustainable Energy Group (PRASEG), committed to enhancing the scale and quality of debate around the energy transition. 

Following a statement from The Rt Hon Greg Hands MP, Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy the future of UK energy was robustly discussed between all parties and Energy UK members. There was general agreement that renewable is now not only a solution to Net Zero, but also a solution for national security.  

Prof Thies was also able to witness an oral evidence session of the select committee on UK energy supply and investment. This inquiry explores how the Government can foster investment to ensure a resilient and affordable energy supply during the transition to net zero. These evidence sessions are a forum where scientists are also regularly questioned for contributions. He also attended an oral questioned in the House of Lords and a mock select committee meeting, where the scientists questioned MPs. 

The scheme will continue later in the year, with a visit from Lord Fox to the University of Exeter’s Cornwall campus in Penryn. It will offer Lord Fox a closer insight into the ongoing research in Offshore Renewable Energy, in particular the challenges for the commercialisation of Floating Offshore Wind technology. He will also have a chance to meet academics and students of the Renewable Energy group  

Lord Fox said: “It was a pleasure to meet Prof. Thies and discuss some of his work. I was delighted to discover things I didn’t know I needed to know, and I think that is the beauty of this Royal Society Scheme. I am looking forward to seeing Prof. Thies’s work up close in Cornwall soon.” 

Prof Thies said: “This week was an excellent experience. I was able to see the workings, appreciating the work and processes that underpin policymaking. All sides encouraged to get more involved as scientists. I am very grateful to Lord Fox for hosting me in what was a very busy week for him and am looking forward to welcoming him in return.  "

Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society, said: “I am delighted that we are now able to resume the Royal Society Pairing Scheme, face to face. “The collaboration between scientists and policymakers is essential if we are to tackle the pressing issues of our time, from climate change to the emergence of new infectious diseases. “By bringing these groups together and providing them with a glimpse into each-other’s worlds, we can build relationships and skills, and hopefully aid important decision making.” 

Date: 21 March 2022

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