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The term ‘sustainable development’ was first coined in 1987 in the UN’s World Commission on Environment and Development report, Our Common Future. Almost 30 years later, the concept of sustainable development is more relevant than ever.
The definition given in the report is, to this date, the most widely accepted modern definition of the term: ‘Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ Climate and society, energy, water, ecosystem health and monitoring, global health, poverty, urbanization, natural disasters, food, ecology and nutrition – these are some of the main problems that need to be tackled when discussing the possibility of sustainable development.
The marine renewable energy sector is poised and ready, waiting to harness the power of tides and waves with underwater tidal turbines and floating wave energy converters. A shift to renewable energy sources is essential to reducing global carbon emissions, but what are the consequences of these new technologies? Are we prepared for the effects of filling our already fragile oceans with rows of large, moving structures? Will we cause irreparable damage? Or might there even be some positive effects?
These are all questions relevant to my thesis and so, for two weeks, I attended a course on Marine Renewables and the Environment held at SAMS (the Scottish Association of Marine Science).
On 9 March a group of students, accompanied by innovation and system thinking coaches, embarked on a Business Innovation Journey organised by NERC and the Grantham Institute. Aiming to tackle NERC’s key challenges through the means of innovation and entrepreneurship, the first week involved visits to the UK’s Catapult centres which take inventions from academia and to turn them into innovations – the perfect space to get inspired.
On Monday, the students were introduced to the challenges lying ahead of them: the creation of business ideas which would then be presented to an expert panel at the end of the second week.
This blog post is part of a series on Responding to Environmental Change event, organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Doctoral Training Partnerships at Imperial (SSCP), and the University of Reading and the University of Surrey (SCENARIO).
A recent event in London brought together emerging environmental scientists (PhD students and early career researchers) with leaders from business, policy and academia to explore the challenges posed by environmental change and opportunities to work in collaboration to respond to these.
Communities today find themselves and the environments they live in under increasing pressure. This is driven by growing populations, urban expansion and improving living standards that place increasing stress on natural resources.
This blog post by Jonathan Bosch, an SSCP DTP student, is part of a series on Responding to Environmental Change, an event organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Doctoral Training Partnerships at Imperial (SSCP), and the University of Reading and the University of Surrey (SCENARIO).
Natural resources are fundamental to human well-being, economic growth, and other areas of human development. Greater demand for food, water and energy resources against the current backdrop of climate change and population growth requires better management and more efficient use of natural resources to reduce the resulting stress on the earth’s natural systems.
This blog post by Malcom Graham, an SSCP DTP student, is part of a series on Responding to Environmental Change, an event organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Doctoral Training Partnerships at Imperial (SSCP), and the University of Reading and the University of Surrey (SCENARIO).
Environmental hazards are becoming more frequent and severe, with potentially serious impacts on people, supply chains and infrastructure globally. Advancing our knowledge and understanding of these hazards, and the processes involved, will allow us to better predict, plan for and manage the risks in order to increase resilience to these changes.
This blog post by Rebecca Emerton, a Scenario DTP student at University of Reading, is part of a series on Responding to Environmental Change, an event organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Doctoral Training Partnerships at Imperial (SSCP), and the University of Reading and the University of Surrey (SCENARIO).
In addition to natural variability, human activities are causing rapid, large-scale climate and environmental change. Understanding how these processes work as a whole Earth system can improve our understanding of the impacts of these changes and inform responsible management.
The Climate and Environment at Imperial blog has moved. View this post on our new blog
This blog post by Samantha Buzzard, a NERC student at the University of Reading, is part of a series on Responding to Environmental Change, an event organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Doctoral Training Partnerships at Imperial (SSCP), and the University of Reading and the University of Surrey (SCENARIO).
To conclude the Responding to Environmental Change meeting Matthew Bell, Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change, outlined the position of the UK in relation to climate change and the issues that could be faced at the Paris Climate Conference (COP 21) at the end of this year.
This week, the next round of UN negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are under way in New York. The SDGs aim to coordinate and promote development across the world in critical areas, including health, education, governance, and environment amongst others. Imperial College PhDs (myself included) recently exchanged ideas with David Hallam from the Department for International Development about his current work on the SDGs to be agreed later this year. The talk centred on how this ambitious global development effort could be successful and, very broadly, what role science and the environmental research being conducted at Imperial can play.
On Saturday, 7th March 2015, I attended the Time to Act climate march. After a winding route through the historic streets of central London, an impromptu sit-down on the Strand, and a spirit-raising day under an early spring sun, we converged on Parliament Square where a number of speakers from charities, trade unions, political parties and other activist groups launched their rallying cries for climate justice, aiming their anger squarely upon the walls of the houses of parliament: the centre of British democracy – those with the power to make change, but who perhaps far too often stand in its way.
The Climate and Environment at Imperial blog has moved. View this post on our new blog
The Thames Basin is set to face many challenges in the future: climate change, a growing population and economic requirements all present developmental challenges, as well as major sources of uncertainty. Having previously worked on a voluntary project producing a vision for planning in the Great Lakes Basin over the next hundred years, Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM) were interested in applying the same methodology to the Thames Basin to determine how we may best plan for the future in this area.
By Helena Wright, Research Postgraduate, Centre for Environmental Policy
Helena Wright, an Imperial PhD student, looks at worst possible scenarios from the IPCC Working Group II report.
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released its latest report, featuring the most up-to-date science on global climate change.
As a researcher, I had an opportunity to contribute to a table in one of the chapters and have read through each of the 30 chapters of the Working Group II report (on Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability). Here is my personal take on seven of the most frightening findings from the WG2 report:
- CO2 levels of 1000ppm could impact on mental performance
The health chapter explains how climate change will affect global health, including direct impacts of heat stress, drought and extreme events, as well as indirect impacts on nutrition and mental health.
By C. Chambon, Research Postgraduate, Department of Chemistry
As part of a group of six Imperial students who visited California, I travelled to San Francisco to work on two projects: the New Climate Economy project, and a research collaboration with the Joint BioEnergy Institute.
The New Climate Economy project is a government-commissioned project looking at how economic goals can be achieved in a way that also addresses climate change. The Innovation stream, led by Stanford University and the Grantham Institute at Imperial, is focused on the potential economic and environmental impact of disruptive technologies. Beginning in January, a group of six Imperial students each focused on a different technology for the project, researching and preparing case studies for our weekly teleconferences.
By Phil Sandwell, Research postgraduate, Department of Physics and Grantham Institute for Climate Change
This March, six Imperial students travelled to Palo Alto, California, to work with Stanford University students on the innovation stream of the New Climate Economy.
The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate was established to investigate the economic benefits and costs associated with climate change mitigation and adaptation. The flagship project of this is the New Climate Economy, a worldwide collaboration of internationally renowned research institutions. One such stream, focusing on innovation, was spearheaded by Stanford University and the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London.
The aim of this part of the project was to analyse how disruptive technologies, techniques or methods could develop, overtake their incumbent (and generally environmentally damaging) predecessors and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.