Author: Emma Critchley

Responding to environmental change

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.

Benefiting from 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).

See the full list of blogs in this series here.

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.

Resilience to environmental hazards

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).

See the full list of blogs in this series here.

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.

Managing environmental change

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).

See the full list of blogs in this series here.

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 Road to Paris 2015 – the UK’s postition

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).

See the full list of blogs in this series here.

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.

Ocean warming in the media

A recent paper on ocean warming has been reported on in a number of newspaper articles, most recently by Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph.

The author of the paper, Professor Carl Wunsch of MIT, wrote a letter to the editor of the Sunday Telegraph in response to Christopher Booker’s article. As the letter has yet to be published in the Sunday Telegraph, with the permission of Professor Wunsch we have decided to post it here.

Dear Editor,

In the Sunday Telegraph of 27 July 2014, Christopher Booker pretends to understand a highly technical paper on ocean warming to such a degree that he can explain it to his lay-audience.

Grantham Institute welcomes results of Energy and Climate Change Committee review of IPCC WG1 report

The House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee report on the Working Group 1 contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, which is published today, has found the IPCC process to be robust. The committee launched an inquiry into the IPCC WG1 report in October 2013, following criticism by some commentators of the IPCC review process and its conclusions.

The Grantham Institute submitted written evidence to the committee (you can read our evidence here) and our Chair Professor Sir Brian Hoskins was called before the committee to give oral evidence.

The committee found that “the IPCC has responded extremely well to constructive criticism in the last few years and has tightened its review processes to make its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) the most exhaustive and heavily scrutinised Assessment Report to-date.

Sticking to the budget

Following on from Simon Buckle’s post this morning another piece of good news on emissions reductions, the UK government has announced that they will not amend the fourth carbon budget, after reviewing their commitments in light of progress within the EU.

Therefore the carbon budget for 2023-27 remains at 1,950 MtCO2e, keeping the UK on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 by 80% relative to 1990 levels.

This decision is in line with advice from the Committee on Climate Change given in December 2013, that there was no basis to change the fourth carbon budget.

You can read more about the review in our background note on the fourth carbon budget.

UNFCCC climate negotiations: reflections from the Rhine

By Dr Simon Buckle, Grantham Institute

I spent a few days at the recent Bonn climate change conference (4-15 June) during the High Level Ministerial events on 5-6 June.  Not that these were the most interesting things happening there. Unsurprisingly, by and large, Ministers did not stray from well rehearsed positions, reflecting the continued skirmishing over the interpretation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) term “common but differentiated responsibilities” in a world that is radically different from the one in which the Convention was conceived.

More interesting were the briefing session on the UN Secretary General’s forthcoming climate summit in New York on 23 September and a series of special events where negotiators got the chance to hear from and question IPCC authors about the implications of the IPCC AR5 reports for the UN negotiations and the review underway of the long-term target (2°C or 1.5°C?), a key issue for vulnerable countries (e.g.

What is the best way to write about climate change in fiction?

By Dr Flora Whitmarsh, Grantham Institute

Last week I attended Weather Fronts, an event organised by Tipping Point. The event brought climate scientists together with writers of fiction and poetry to discuss how authors can bring climate change into their work.

Climate change is a global problem and solving it requires collective action. When too many citizens fail to exercise their voice, it is harder for such problems to be adequately addressed at the societal level. Artists have a voice they can use to communicate about the things that concern them. Writing about global warming of course has the potential to raise awareness of its impacts and possible solutions.

Science and an open society

By Dr Simon Buckle, Grantham Institute

Professor Lennart Bengtsson’s resignation from the GWPF (Global Warming Policy Foundation) Academic Advisory Council has received wide coverage and raises important issues.

Whatever anyone’s views are on the role, motivation and integrity of the GWPF in this matter, it is up to individual academics whether or not to associate themselves with it in an advisory role.

It is regrettable that perceived political stances on the climate issue are apparently so affecting academic activity.  The Grantham Institute at Imperial has always opposed such behaviour, believing that scientific progress requires an open society.  We try to engage with a wide range of figures, some with radically different views on climate change.

Collaboration with Stanford University and Biofuels Research at the Joint BioEnergy Institute

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.

The challenge of seasonal weather prediction

By Hannah Nissan, Research Assistant in Regional Climate Modelling, Physics

In April 2009 the UK Met Office issued their now infamous forecast: “odds-on for a BBQ summer”. By the end of August, total precipitation since June had climbed to 42% above average levels for 1971-2000 (UKMO, 2014). Why is it so challenging to provide seasonal forecasts several months ahead?

A question which arises often in conversations about climate change is “how can we predict the climate in 50 years when we can’t even get the weather right next week?” While we have no skill in forecasting the weather on a particular day in 2060, we can make much more confident projections about the average conditions at that time.

Stranding our fossil assets or stranding the planet

By Helena Wright, Research Postgraduate, Centre for Environmental Policy

Earlier this month Carbon Tracker came to Imperial College London to discuss their report on ‘Unburnable Carbon’.  The report outlines research which shows between 60-80% of coal, oil and gas reserves of publicly listed companies are ‘unburnable’ if the world is to have a chance of keeping global warming below the globally-agreed limit of 2°C.  The event was followed by a lively debate.

The research, led by the Grantham Research Institute at LSE and the Carbon Tracker Initiative, outlines the thesis that a ‘carbon bubble’ exists in the stock market, as companies with largely ‘unburnable’ fossil fuel reserves are being overvalued.

New Climate Economy Collaboration with Stanford University

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.