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But what will our world look like?

ucfaete11 December 2015

sustainable world (c) istockphoto

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.

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CSP vs PV – Understanding the current situation and future outlook

Seyed Mohammad Mehdi Mohaghegh Ahmadabadi30 November 2015

Solar Panels Out in the Desert (c) iStockPhoto

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. (more…)

Commentary on SDG 6.4: Continued Lack of Storage Considerations in Water Scarcity Metrics

zcfad2116 November 2015

It remains unclear how the success of an ambitious goal to improve water efficiency and reduce water scarcity will be measured.

(c) Tim J Keegan - Lake Hume at 4%

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. (more…)

Bringing rural to urban: community energy and closing ecological loops in the city

ucfugor23 July 2015

Posters ready for the session at the German Deli in Hackney WickBeing interested in researching the often complex motivations behind community energy projects and the ways in which they develop and come to be, as well as being a firm believer in the potential contribution of localised urban energy production for moving towards a low-carbon transition, I was excited to learn about project developed with the London strand of R-URBAN, R-Urban Wick by UCL’s Institute for Sustainable Resources and art and architecture practice public works.

R-URBAN is a grassroots venture, aiming to enhance urban resilience by initiating closed ecological cycles, embedded in a local context. This could for example be achieved by re-localising (and thus “ruralising”) patterns of production and consumption within the city. And, by searching for alternative uses for the by-products of production which may otherwise be disposed of unnecessarily, their status could be transformed from waste product into alternative product, simultaneously creating economic, social and environmental benefits. With landfills close to being full, Londoners and city-dwellers elsewhere will no longer be able to ignore the waste issues that city life produces, so it is a great time to be thinking about ways in which we can divert and utilise the by-products of our consumptive habits. (more…)

Investments in Resource Efficiency: Understanding benefits & overcoming barriers

uctpjer26 May 2015

industry source pixabayby Jun Rentschler and Florian Flachenecker

Resource efficiency investments tend to yield both economic and environmental benefits, yet many low- and middle-income economies lag behind. The main causes of inefficiency are market failures and distortions, which create barriers preventing firms and governments from investing in efficiency. Comprehensive strategies are needed to address the complex and interlinked causes of inefficiency.

High and volatile resource prices, uncertain supply, rising demand and environmental impacts – various factors are putting increasing pressure on policy makers, researchers, firms and investors to explore pathways towards sustainable and efficient resource management. Resource efficiency is considered to be an answer to these challenges, yielding substantial benefits – both environmentally and economically. (more…)

Future Energy – Thoughts on conditions for environmentally sound UK shale gas development

ucftpe028 January 2015

shale gas extraction © istockphotoTwo recently published papers (McGlade & Ekins (2015) and McGlade et al. (2014)) examine possible futures for fossil fuels, with a particular focus on the ‘bridging’ role that natural gas may be able to play during a transition to a global low-carbon energy system. Drawing on the findings of these papers, we have commented that the UK may be able to develop some of its potential shale gas resources within the context of a global effort to keep average global warming below 2 oC with a reasonable likelihood. This note aims to discuss the conditions that we consider are necessary for this to be the case. (more…)

All for one and one for all – sustainability, resources and stewardship of planet Earth

Katherine E Welch17 November 2014

(c) IstockPhoto

(c) IstockPhoto

“The solutions are in our hands if only we could recognise them”, one of the key remarks from the closing panel discussion at this year’s BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities/UCL Grand Challenges Symposium hosted by the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources on Nov 6-7.

This is, I think, a sentiment shared by most, and certainly by those attending this year’s conference, which ran with the theme ‘Stewardship for Planet Earth’. Over the two days of the event we heard contributions from academics, policy makers and practitioners, both presenting and in the audience, and held rousing discussions about our individual and shared responsibilities for how, and to what extent, we exploit our natural resources. (more…)

Towards energy security, the Russia-Ukraine-EU Debate

Catalina Spataru18 September 2014

ukraineeventUkraine’s political situation has been dominating headlines in recent months, and its position as a main conduit for energy supplies between Europe and Russia is becoming a critical issue. It was such issues that were the topic of discussion at a recent workshop organised by Dr Catalina Spataru from UCL Energy, in collaboration with partners from UCL ISR, Europe, Ukraine and Russia. (more…)