X Close

UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources Blog

Home

Discussing global sustainability issues

Menu

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…)

Mining’s contribution to sustainable development at Rio+20

Katherine E Welch10 July 2012

ICMM hosts a session at Rio +20

In this special guest blog, John Drexhage, Director of Climate Change at the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), reflects on ICMM’s contribution to the Rio +20 convention and the role of the mining sector in a low carbon economy: (more…)

Rio+20: “the future we want” or “old shoes in a new box”?

Chiara Armeni23 May 2012

The 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro, brought sustainable development to the forefront of the international policy agenda. A set of key principles (Rio Declaration on Environment and Development), a blue print for action to implement sustainability (Agenda 21) and three multilateral environmental agreements (the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on Combat of Desertification) represent the main outcomes of that conference and have informed the direction of international environmental and climate change law and governance since. Rio also led to the establishment of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) to monitor progress on the agreed goals.

(more…)

Feeling the squeeze

Katherine E Welch23 April 2012

credit: Planet Under Pressure/Elsevier

The consensus of the academic community gathered at the Planet Under Pressure conference in London at the end of March seemed to be that the pressure is indeed on, and change is needed – now.

The conference, pegged as the largest gathering of global experts on environmental and social issues in the lead up to Rio+20, aimed to send a clear message to those gathering in Brazil in June about the challenges the planet now faces. Indeed, the conference organisers, in a declaration on the state of the planet, said that safeguarding the Earth’s natural processes to ensure the wellbeing of civilisation was the defining challenge of our time.

Climate change, the global financial crisis and food, water and energy insecurity threaten civilisation as we know it – Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General

The sense of urgency from speakers was palpable, and their warnings stark. Population growth, increasing urbanisation and ever-greater resource demand are placing increasingly unsustainable pressures on the natural system, with many systems now believed to be at thresholds or “tipping points” beyond which changes can not be reversed.

(more…)