By Katherine Welch, on 17 April 2012
Welcome to the UCL ISR blog, a guest blog with informative and insightful commentary from invited stakeholders on a range of issues relating to the sustainable use of natural resources.
UCL ISR is also pleased to announce the launch of its Future Energy blog, which presents perspectives on low-carbon future energy systems and sustainable development from ISR academics and other stakeholders. Visit the Future Energy blog to find out more.
By Paul Ekins, on 29 June 2016
So the British people have voted by a margin of around 4%, a little more than 1 million votes, to leave the European Union (EU). Where this will lead lies somewhere between two absolutely contrasting scenarios.
On the positive side, we can imagine that the months before the election of the new British Prime Minister in October see some healing of the great divide that has opened up in the UK, a decision by Scotland not to pursue independence, and Sinn Fein not to pursue a referendum on Irish reunification, a steadying of the economy by the Bank of England and current Chancellor, and therewith a steadying in both the stock and currency markets. Then, in October or November, the new Prime Minister presses the button on Article 50, to be met by a conciliatory European Commission which, over time, makes it clear that UK Associate Membership of the Internal Single Market can indeed be accompanied by restrictions on EU freedom of movement and less need for the UK to implement EU legislation. This takes the heat out of the UK Brexit impulse, so that agreement on UK/EU terms of engagement, which involves minimal disruption to trade and investment, swiftly follows. Businesses and the financial sector heave a sigh of relief and get on with business as usual. The damage of Brexit to the UK and EU economies, and to the UK and EU politically, is minimal, far less than was forecast by practically everyone. ‘Experts’, especially economists, become the butt of more jokes. In five years’ time the UK’s position in Europe is a bit like Norway’s, but immigration has been restricted by the new curbs on freedom of movement. Leavers are delighted and say ‘I told you so’. Remainers are mightily relieved that the meltdown they feared has not occurred. The curbs on the freedom of movement of labour are used by other EU Member States to take the heat out of their populist movements. The ‘reformed’ EU continues more or less as before. Read the rest of this entry »
By Paul Ekins, on 4 May 2016
The Mayoral and London elections are upon us. Listening to the candidates I have been struck by how one key issue that is crucial to the health and quality of life in this city is absent from their priority lists: London’s green spaces.
The issue is apparently not in the top ten things that Londoners are most worried about (see The Guardian article ‘10 things Londoners are worried about ahead of the mayoral election’). But if they care for their green spaces, they should be worried. All over London (and, of course, in other urban areas too, but this blog is focused on the London Mayoral election), green spaces are under unprecedented threat, both from development, as politicians struggle with the issue that Londoners do care about most – housing – and from commercial events that disrupt and exclude people from normal uses of parks, and greatly reduce parks’ ability to provide Londoners with the benefits they were set up for: peace, tranquillity, nature, a space to exercise, relax with friends and family, without a monetary charge. Read the rest of this entry »
By Michael Grubb, on 4 April 2016
Michael Grubb, Professor of International Energy and Climate Change Policy at UCL, examines claims that EU energy regulation increases the costs of UK energy bills and argues that many benefits are often overlooked.
With a speech today by Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, energy issues have exploded into the Brexit debate. Not before time. An article by Conservative MP Dominic Raab which accompanied his announcement of support for leaving the EU (Sunday Times, 21 Feb) stated that ‘skewed EU energy regulation will add £149 to bills by 2020.’ In an angry reaction to Rudd’s speech today, Matthew Elliot, the Vote Leave campaign chief executive, reiterated claims that EU regulation adds £billions to overall UK energy bills.
Irrespective of exact numbers, there appears to be a widespread belief by many who favour Brexit that the EU’s energy and climate policies impose significant, unjustified costs on the UK and that we could avoid these by leaving. Read the rest of this entry »
By Nadia Ameli, on 14 March 2016
I was raised in Italy and every woman raised in Italy loves fashion, and don’t get me wrong, I really do love fashion. The region where I come from (Le Marche) produces some of the best and most famous shoes made in the country. When I was about to graduate I had to choose the topic of my master thesis. My professors were expecting a thesis on how business clusters could boost the Italian economy. I decided to do something different however because I did not want to follow the fashion path that everyone was expected to do. The first person who pushed me to think differently was my brother. He kept asking me: do you really want to work in fashion? This is not going to change people’s lives, it will make them more beautiful, but it will not solve any real issues. Read the rest of this entry »
By Emma Terama, on 7 March 2016
Athena SWAN is the process for accreditation in higher education and research for their work to support women’s equal opportunities and advancement. The Bartlett, UCL’s global faculty of the built environment, chose to seek this accreditation as a whole, instead of the comprising Schools/Centres applying separately. This is a reflection on that process that started in October 2015 by one member of the self-assessment team.
The Bartlett is a diverse faculty, and that was what we found when it came to the challenge at hand. The first point was to compile a picture of the Faculty in terms of the various points along the education and career pathways available. As part of the Athena SWAN application we started gathering data on the share of women in different career stages, recruitment and induction, career progression, work place culture and supporting women’s careers. We were assisted in our data endeavours by numerous professional services staff across the Schools, UCL HR, and many more staff and colleagues via responses to interviews, focus groups, survey and a mini-workshop.
Read the rest of this entry »
By Paul Drummond, on 15 December 2015
On the 12th December 2015, after (just over) two weeks of intensive negotiations between nearly 200 nations, COP21 of the UNFCCC adopted the Paris Agreement – a new global commitment to address climate change. All parties were keen to avoid a repeat of the disastrous effort to secure such a global agreement in Copenhagen in 2009, where deep divisions and entrenched positions between counties and negotiating blocs prevented any substantive progress towards a common global agreement. Read the rest of this entry »
By Simon Damkjaer, on 15 December 2015
The world is celebrating the adoption of the Paris Agreement, but the role of water under a changing climate is still sidelined: Time to ride the momentum.
One of the biggest highlights for the water community of 2015 was the adoption of a standalone Sustainable Development Goal on water and sanitation (SDG 6) on 25th September. The celebrations were high but not long after did the water community’s hangover commence: the first draft negotiating text for the 21st United Nations Conference of Parties (COP21) was released late October, 2015 and made no explicit mention to water resources in the upcoming climate change negotiations. As COP21 got underway, several revised versions of the proposed Paris Agreement were made available throughout the two-week negotiation marathon, but all failed to make a single reference to water. Not surprisingly, the final adopted text was no different. Read the rest of this entry »
By Emma Terama, on 11 December 2015
I am in the business of foresight, projections and scenarios. As a scientist I cannot tell you what the future brings nor what our world will be under +2, 4 or 6 degree warming. What I can say, is that as an individual I have deep concerns.
The climate change community has been applying scenario techniques to bridge gaps between the physical and social change that is envisioned due to climate change. The most recent addition is the introduction of so-called Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) to describe alternate world futures (O’Neill et al., 2015). These futures can be coupled with different representative concentration pathways (RCPs) that correspond to the language of “+2/4/6… degree warming”. Despite the level of emissions or warming considered under a given pathway, what is clear, is that most of the scenarios pose challenges for our societies in the 21st century.
Read the rest of this entry »
By Seyed Mehdi Mohaghegh, on 30 November 2015
CSP mirrors in the Desert (c) iStockPhoto
Throughout COP21 our staff and students will be blogging on climate change and sustainability.
Next month, the largest concentrated solar power plant (CSP) in the world will launch its first phase at the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate on the edge of the Sahara desert. The project consists of four plants and could generate 580 MW of electricity. This possibly will be enough to supply electricity to more than a million homes in Morocco. The first phase of the project, called Noor1, has the generating capacity of 160MW. Read the rest of this entry »
By Simon Damkjaer, on 16 November 2015
It remains unclear how the success of an ambitious goal to improve water efficiency and reduce water scarcity will be measured.
On September 25, 2015, the global development agenda for the next 15 years was set at the United Nations General Assembly following the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The inclusion of a stand-alone and integrated water goal (SDG 6) that moves beyond its predecessor (i.e. Millennium Development Goal 7: halving the amount of people without access to safe drinking water and sanitation), has been well received by the global water community as is clear from Expert Commentary on the positive implications of the various water sub-goals of SDG 6. Read the rest of this entry »