Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2018

Courts can play a pivotal role in combating climate change

The international community has widely acknowledged the severe threats posed by the impacts of climate change to a series of human rights, including the rights to life, health, and an adequate standard of living. But a stark gap has emerged between this acknowledgement in global climate policy – evidenced by a non-binding clause in the preamble of the Paris Agreement – and their actions to meet promised targets. How can we hold governments accountable to their human rights duties? A Dutch case recently upheld by the appeals court might hold the answer. In June 2015, The Hague District Court and a group of 886 concerned citizens, united by the environmental interest group Urgenda Foundation, made history. This, the first successful climate change case brought on human rights and civil law grounds, saw the Dutch government ordered to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 25% on 1990 levels by the year 2020. Three years on – against a backdrop of intense scrutiny and after a…

What Al Gore taught me about effective climate change communication

Solutions to the climate crisis are within reach, but in order to capture them, we must take urgent action today across every level of society.   ~ Al Gore.
Al Gore has always been a hero of mine. I distinctly remember watching ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ for the first time and the profound impact that it had on my view of the world. I personally believe that what Al Gore has done for the awareness of climate change is up there with the contributions of Martin Luther King Jr. to the civil rights movement and Nelson Mandela to the abolition of apartheid. In fact, I have pictures of all three in my bedroom (sad, I know…). Often, they will cast judgemental looks from the side of the room and mutter under their breath that I haven’t made enough of a contribution to humankind today! I find that having such tough critics of my moral compass omnipresent often gives me a little more impetus to do something positive and temporarily clear my conscience.

After dragging my family along to the cinema …

Travelling through Asia’s breadbasket

This is the second of a series of blogs from a group of University of Bristol Cabot Institute researchers who are on a remote expedition (funded by BCAI) to find out more about Kazakh agriculture and how farmers are responding to their changing landscape. 


Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ played on the car radio as we drove through endless fields of stubble stretching into the horizon in every direction. We were 2 days into our 3-day, 2,345km journey from Astana to our field site, and it was easy to see why Kazakhstan is referred to as Asia’s breadbasket. Spring had finally arrived after an unusually long winter.  Tractors were busy burning, ploughing and planting, disappearing into the distance with each pass of the field.

The vast, flat steppe has provided the opportunity for cereal production on a scale unrivalled by the UK’s comparatively small field enclosures. In 2017, Kazakhstan held wheat stocks of 12MMT (million metric tonnes), making UK’s 1.4MMT seem like a drop in the ocean by c…

Setting off on a BCAI expedition to Kazakhstan

This is the first of a series of blogs from a group of University of Bristol Cabot Institute researchers who are on a remote expedition (funded by BCAI) to find out more about Kazakh agriculture and how farmers are responding to their changing landscape. 
Ghost towns on the Kazakh steppe look as though they are centuries old, but it is an illusion. They have been sandblasted relentlessly by the force of the steppe since they were abandoned, less than 40 years ago, after the breakdown of the Soviet Union. This is one area on earth that people have largely failed to tame, but as the human population increases the country’s agricultural systems are rapidly developing and focus is turning to the steppe once again. At the same time, farmers must adapt to recent changes in climate - drier summers limit crop production and water availability, and changing patterns of snowfall and snowmelt threaten the lives of livestock. I am about to embark on a remote expedition to find out more about Kaza…

The Paris Agreement – where are we now?

This year the Cabot Institute Annual Lecture posed a critical question: where are we with current efforts to tackle global climate change? The event brought together over 800 people to hear from leading Cabot Institute experts in climate science, policy, and justice, Dr Jo House, Dr Dann Mitchell, Dr Alix Dietzel and Professor Tony Payne. It was both an appraisal of the findings of the recently published report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and a grounded call to climate action.

Paris commitments  In 2015 world leaders adopted the Paris Agreement committing all parties to limiting global average temperatures to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5 °C. All countries undertook to achieve global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and to enact increasingly ambitious mitigation measures in line with the overarching temperature goals. The Paris Agreement, in contrast to the preceding Kyoto …

Local students + local communities = action on the local environment

As part of Green Great Britain Week, supported by BEIS, we are posting a series of blogs throughout the week highlighting what work is going on at the University of Bristol's Cabot Institute for the Environment to help provide up to date climate science, technology and solutions for government and industry.  We will also be highlighting some of the big sustainability actions happening across the University and local community in order to do our part to mitigate the negative effects of global warming. Today our blog will look at 'Climate action in communities'.

Geography students from the University of Bristol spent February 2018 working on air, soil and water quality research projects for local organisations and community groups, including Bristol Green Capital Partnership members. Below is a summary of each project, the findings and next steps.
Bristol City Council – Bristol Urban Heat Island effect Students investigated the effects of urban and suburban heat islands with…

Systems thinking: 5 ways to be a more sustainable university

As part of Green Great Britain Week, supported by BEIS, we are posting a series of blogs throughout the week highlighting what work is going on at the University of Bristol's Cabot Institute for the Environment to help provide up to date climate science, technology and solutions for government and industry.  We will also be highlighting some of the big sustainability actions happening across the University and local community in order to do our part to mitigate the negative effects of global warming. Today our blog will look at 'Considering the actions businesses can take on climate change'.

Our University is justly famous for the breadth and depth of its work on Sustainability. This ranges from research on the effect of micro plastics on the oceans, through food and farming, to the effect of resource-driven migration. We are also tackling arguably the biggest problem of all: developing the tools and techniques that will help us to fight climate change.

Our Sustainability Po…

The new carbon economy - transforming waste into a resource

As part of Green Great Britain Week, supported by BEIS, we are posting a series of blogs throughout the week highlighting what work is going on at the University of Bristol's Cabot Institute for the Environment to help provide up to date climate science, technology and solutions for government and industry.  We will also be highlighting some of the big sustainability actions happening across the University and local community in order to do our part to mitigate the negative effects of global warming. Today our blog will look at 'Technologies of the future: clean growth and innovation'.



On Monday 8 October 2018, the IPCC released a special report which calls upon world governments to enact policies which will limit global warming to 1.5°C compared with pre-industrial levels, failure to do so will drastically increase the probability of ecosystem collapses, extreme weather events and complete melting of Arctic sea ice. Success will require “rapid and far-reaching” actions in…

Digital future of renewable energy

As part of Green Great Britain Week, supported by BEIS, we are posting a series of blogs throughout the week highlighting what work is going on at the University of Bristol's Cabot Institute for the Environment to help provide up to date climate science, technology and solutions for government and industry.  We will also be highlighting some of the big sustainability actions happening across the University and local community in order to do our part to mitigate the negative effects of global warming. Today our blog will look at 'Technologies of the future: clean growth and innovation'.

1. Background  Today over 94% of the energy market in the UK is dominated by the Major Power Producers (MPP) who generate electricity and feed it to households and businesses over the grid [1].

Historically, to cut down on the fuel transportation costs, the major generation plants had to be located close to the fuel sources, i.e., where coal and oil were mined. The generated electricity woul…