The Government committed in 2019 to reduce the UK’s greenhouse emissions to Net Zero by 2050. And, under the Climate Change Act (2008), we have a trajectory of legally binding 5-year “carbon budgets” to get there. We were the first major economy in the world to pass a net zero law, and we have made excellent progress, with emissions at 44% below 1990 levels in 2019. But getting to zero emissions is going to mean transformation across the whole economy: in the way we travel, heat our homes, power businesses and factories and manage our land and waste. A key part of this will be switching to use electricity in place of oil, gas and other fossil fuels, at the same time as making sure that the electricity we use all comes from renewable and other low carbon sources.
Principal, George Watson's College
Melvyn has been Principal of George Watson’s College in Edinburgh since August 2014.
Melvyn graduated in English from the University of York and trained to be a teacher at the University of Durham. He began his career in Northamptonshire, teaching at Oundle School and enjoying a short and not massively successful political career which culminated in being elected Mayor of Oundle in 1993. He also served very briefly as an election observer for the Council of Europe before moving to Monmouth School as Head of English and being promoted as Director of Studies there in 1997. In 2001 he transferred into the state sector as Headmaster of Old Swinford Hospital in Stourbridge, serving for six years and subsequently moving to Norfolk as Principal of Wymondham College.
Melvyn was a member of the National Executive of the Boarding Schools’ Association (2004-2010) and was Chair of the Association in 2008-09. He has undertaken a number of governance roles in schools, academies and the FE sector. He has served as a Director of the Scottish Council for Independent Schools (SCIS) and of Connect - the Scottish Parent Teacher Council. He is currently a member of the Council of School Leaders Scotland. Melvyn is a Burgess of the City of Edinburgh and also an Honorary Life Fellow of the College of Optometrists, a distinction awarded in recognition of his service to the profession as a Lay Member of College Council.
Melvyn will become Chair of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) for the 2022/23 Session. HMC represents the Heads of 296 leading independent schools in the UK, Ireland and around the world, which between them are responsible for educating over 240,000 young people. The organisation has an important voice in the development of education policy and good practice, provides training, induction and professional development for Heads and the staff of HMC schools and provides a quality “kite mark” for British education internationally. This will be only the third time in over 150 years that this prestigious position will have been held by the Head of a Scottish school, and Melvyn will be following in the footsteps of former GWC Principal, Sir Roger Young, who was Chairman of HMC in 1976.
Melvyn is married to Catherine Stratford and they have two adult children. Melvyn retains a personal interest in politics as well as cultural pursuits and vintage transport. His articles on educational and related themes are published from time to time in the TES Scotland and elsewhere.
Paul van Heyningen OBE
Deputy Director, Net Zero Electricity Networks at Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
After doing a PhD in molecular biology, Paul decided academia was not for him and started his civil service career in 2001 in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, just a few weeks before the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak struck. Since then, has has held a variety of posts in Government, focused on energy, climate change and environmental policy. Between 2016 and 2020, he was a Deputy Director in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, leading teams on the UK’s exit
from the European Union: first on carbon emissions trading and latterly on Northern Ireland, which shares an all-island electricity market with the Republic. In his current role, Paul and his team work to make sure our electricity grid is ready for the transition to electric vehicles and other low carbon technologies as we move towards a net zero emissions economy.