Join the discussion
Tackling the climate crisis together.
Our Manchester Festival of Climate Action acted as a forum to share our insight and innovations.
But the discussion doesn't stop there.
We've made our resources and academic contacts from each talk available below so we can keep discussion going as we continue to work together on solutions.
Join in the discussion on Twitter #UoMClimateQs.
Manchester Festival of Climate Action
Mitigation – How do we secure global net zero?
Climate change impacts are widespread and intensifying. However, strong, sustained reductions in carbon emissions will help to limit climate change.
How do we speed up the energy transition? How can we fast-track decarbonisation? How do we accelerate exploration into transformational technologies?
Decarbonising the consumption of goods and services in cities is vital and urgent to stem dangerous levels of warming. Consider, for instance, cement, our food, or flights taken from elsewhere. As many of these emissions occur beyond boundary, they are often neglected in (net) zero carbon efforts.
- Dr Joe Blakey, Lecturer in Human Geography, The University of Manchester and Member of the Manchester Zero Carbon Advisory Group
- Dr Claire Brown, Tyndall Manchester at The University of Manchester
- Dr Jo Mylan, Lecturer in Sustainability and Innovation, Alliance Manchester Business School
- Usman Aziz, Research Associate, Alliance Manchester Business School
Research conducted by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that carbon capture is an essential technology in the fight to mitigate climate change.
Leading experts from The University of Manchester are exploring the increasing role that carbon capture and storage will play in the transition to a net zero economy, analysing the advances, technical challenges and research issues around carbon capture and storage technologies.
- Subsurface energy at Manchester
- Regional Exploration and Characterisation of CO2 Storage Prospects in the Utsira-Skade Aquifer, North Viking Graben, North Sea
- MSc Geoscience for Sustainable Energy
- MSc Subsurface Energy Engineering
- Mads Huuse, Professor of Geophysics, The University of Manchester
- Vahid Niasar, Reader, The University of Manchester
- Mojgan Mosleh, Lecturer, The University of Manchester
- Professor Chris Jackson, Chair in Sustainable Geoscience, The University of Manchester
- Professor Cathy Holllis, Chair of Carbonate Geoscience, The University of Manchester
David Attenborough in Blue Planet II did what many polymer scientists have been trying to do for years: convince the public and government that the challenges of plastic waste are real and need to be fixed. But is this as simple as doing away with single-use plastic?
Experts at Manchester are exploring the complex nature of our plastic environment, the interdependency of plastics on our goals for lowering our carbon footprint and increasing our expected lifespan, while also showcasing how our work at the Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub has the opportunity to shape a new sustainable future by developing interdisciplinary solutions that work for all actors.
- Professor Michael Shaver, Director of the Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub and Professor of Polymer Science in the Department of Materials, The University of Manchester.
- Zoe Schyns, PhD Student, Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub and the Department of Materials, The University of Manchester
- Dr Ahu Gumrah Parry, Research Fellow, Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub and the Department of Materials, The University of Manchester
Where we are when it comes to achieving net zero targets, and what do we need to be doing better? For example, why is UK decarbonisation progressing well in the electricity sector, but struggling to make progress in heating and mobility?
What lessons can we draw from the interactions between innovation, company strategies, consumers, social acceptance, and policy choices in the UK electricity, heating, and mobility systems?
- Description of the Multi-Level Perspective
- Analysis of electricity systems
- Analysis of mobility systems
- Professor Frank Geels, Professor of System Innovation and Sustainability at Alliance Manchester Business School
The UK’s target of net zero by 2050 is extremely ambitious and the scale of the effort required to achieve it must not be underestimated. While many potential options are pitched as being “the solution” in meeting our net zero ambitions, in practice it will likely require all possible low-carbon generation technologies to meet the ambitious target, and this will include nuclear.
Large parts of the national discussion on nuclear energy are currently underdeveloped. With aims to resolve this, we need to address questions such as:
- What role(s) should nuclear be playing in the UK’s future energy landscape?
- Is an energy future possible with Hinkley Point C as the only nuclear generation to 2050?
- What challenges must the nuclear sector overcome to warrant serious consideration?
- What is the responsibility of government in this challenge?
- Nuclear energy for net zero: a strategy for action
- Recommendations of a new roadmap for the UK’s nuclear sector
- The 2020 Energy White Paper- Is nuclear power back?
- Dr William Bodel, Research Associate in Nuclear Systems Choice, The University of Manchester's Dalton Nuclear Institute.
- Professor Francis Livens, Director of the Dalton Nuclear Institute
- Professor Gregg Butler, Head of Strategic Assessment, Dalton Nuclear Institute
- Professor Juan Matthews, Professor in Nuclear Energy Technology, Dalton Nuclear Institute
In 2019 researchers at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at The University of Manchester teamed up with legendary electronic band Massive Attack, aiming to transform the live music industry. The Roadmap to Super Low Carbon Live Music sets out urgent recommendations on how the sector can help tackle the climate crisis.
The roadmap has the potential to reconfigure the music industry as we know it.
- Super-low carbon music: a roadmap for the UK live music sector
- Podcast: Can being green be rock'n'roll?
- Tyndall Manchester
Evidence generated by The University of Toronto and The University of Manchester suggests that investments in urban forestry, street greening, and more strategic green infrastructure can support ecosystem service provision, reduce flooding and improve air quality. In addition, research findings argue that an alignment between the ecological and socio-economic perspectives of urban planning are critical to understanding how green infrastructure can deliver greater resilience for urban systems.
What are the synergies needed between effective urban governance, environmental research and socio-cultural understandings of need in Canada and the UK?
- MUI Newsletter sign up
- Governing urban infrastructures under pandemic conditions: some thoughts (PDF, 596KB)
- Urban Forests in a Changing Climate (2020): Greenbelt Foundation Report
- Kevin Ward, Professor of Human Geography and Director of the Manchester Urban Institute at The University of Manchester
- Dr Ian Mell, Reader in Environmental & Landscape Planning, The University of Manchester
- Tenley Conway, Professor, Department of Geography, Geomatics and Environment, University of Toronto-Mississauga
- Professor Matti Siemiatycki, Department of Geography and Program in Planning, University of Toronto
Adaptation – How can we protect our communities and natural habitats?
Extreme weather is affecting every continent. The seas and atmosphere are warming at unprecedented rates. Some of the consequences are irrevocable.
How do we protect communities and natural habitats?
For both people and nature to thrive, we need to see more high-quality natural spaces that are better joined up, throughout our landscapes. For the past five years, the Carbon Landscape Partnership has been working to restore and connect ecosystems across the landscape that fuelled the Industrial Revolution. Working with 14 delivery partners, the Partnership has drawn together strands of landscape ecology, heritage, community engagement, education, traineeships, and art to imagine a different future for this post-industrial landscape.
We are now seeing what was once a fragmented landscape becoming a joined-up network of important wildlife habitats, providing places for people to visit, relax and exercise. Environmental improvements include biodiversity gains; ‘slow the flow’ natural flood management projects; capturing and storing carbon; and improving water quality.
- Nature Rebounding in the Peri-Urban Landscapes that the Industrial Revolution Left Behind: North West England’s Carbon Landscape
- Transforming Landscapes with Effective Community Engagement, Carbon Landscape Project
- Carbon Landscape Project
- Dr Joanne Tippett, Lecturer in Spatial Planning in the School of Environment and Development, The University of Manchester
How do we move beyond working with purely the self-selected sample of ‘greenies’ to ensure sustainability messages are heard by all students? Who are the key actors in this discussion, and who are we not hearing? Through a co-constructed un-workshop we invited students to shape the conversation about sustainability teaching and learning at The University of Manchester and make plans for change.
Follow-up actions to be shared.
- Discover our Living Labs programme where our students graduate with first-hand experience of driving change with organisations across the world.
- Brokering applied research between students and organisations to affect change for sustainable development (PDF, 60KB)
- Jennifer O’Brien, Academic Lead of Sustainability Teaching and Learning at The University of Manchester
The frequency and intensity of heatwaves is likely to increase in England because of climate change. This will have a significant impact on public health through increased ill health and on health and social care services as people who are impacted seek support. With the frequency of heatwaves likely to increase in the coming years, what is being done to prepare, and where can impacts be mitigated?
- The environment's effect on human health
- Heatwave Plan for England
- Manchester NHS Foundation Trust Masterplan (PDF, 3.51MB)
- Professor Arpana Verma, Clinical Professor of Public Health and Epidemiology, The University of Manchester
- Professor Holly Shiels, Professor of Integrative Physiology, The University of Manchester
- Professor Martie Van Tongeren, Professor in Occupational and Environmental Health, The University of Manchester
Many activists argue that transition to a post-carbon economy is inevitable but a just transition is far from guaranteed: it will only be achieved if social change happens in tandem with technological innovation. There is therefore a call to move beyond the focus on how to adapt to climate change, towards democratic debate about fundamental eco-social transformation. What are the strategies for greater inclusion of women and people marginalised by poverty, racialisation, age and citizenship status in climate politics?
- Ethics, faith and collaboration: Zarina Ahmad on enhancing ethnic diversity in the environment sector
- Student Guide to the Climate Crisis
- It’s time to talk about a feminist green new deal
It has been estimated that we need to produce more food in the next 35 years than we have ever produced in human history, based on projected increases in world population, and predications that rising incomes will continue to change diets. Sustainable food systems lie at the heart of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and we need to deliver food security and nutrition that is healthy for us, healthy for the environment, and economically viable.
What are the challenges and potential solutions to delivering sustainable food systems, and how is current research at The University of Manchester helping this endeavour?
- UoM is part of N8 Agrifood Partnership.
- Sustainable Consumption Institute
- The significance of soils and soil science towards realisation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
- Unpacking food to go: Packaging and food waste of on the go provisioning practices in the UK
The Earth has been in existence for 4.5 billion years and our planet's climate has changed dramatically over these millennia. Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 11,700 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era – and of human civilisation.
It is only by studying the past that we can really understand what is going on in our world today. The planet is warming much faster than it has over human history, which is having a dramatic impact on our environment. How, by looking at geological and biological records, can we start to unravel how the Earth’s natural systems have swung between vicious cold to unrelenting heat, and what are the clues that our planet has left behind for us?
- Last day of the dinosaurs
- Interdisciplinary Centre for Ancient Life
- Holocene Glaciers and Environmental Change in the High Atlas
- Professor Roy Wogelius, Professor of Geochemistry, The University of Manchester
- Dr Will Fletcher, Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography and Quaternary Science, The University of Manchester
- Dr Michael Buckley, Senior Research Fellow, The University of Manchester
- Dr Dave Topping, Reader, The University of Manchester
- Dr Anna Hughes, Lecturer in Physical Geography, The University of Manchester
- Lauren O’Connor, Research Associate, The University of Manchester
There is no denying that extreme weather events are on the rise, with the World Meteorological Organisation confirming they have increased five times in the past 50 years. In the last year alone, our news channels have been filled with reports of flash floods, wildfires and heatwaves devastating lives across the world.
Scientists believe that alongside better reporting, climate change is increasing the likelihood of these extreme weather events. So, as temperatures continue to rise and heavy rainfall becomes more frequent, what long term measures can we take to protect our communities and make them more resilient to climate change? And is it possible for nature to play a part in protecting us?
- UK Wildfires and their Climate Challenges: an expert led report for the 3rd Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA3) (PDF, 28.6MB)
- Protect-NFM project
- Keep up to date with the CASTOR project
Finance – How do we finance change?
We need to mobilise trillions in private and public sector finance to power us towards net zero, and to manage the increasing impacts of climate change.
This means we need to ensure every financial decision takes climate into account.
It’s all very well having short-term strategies to begin addressing the climate crisis, but what businesses really need are long-term solutions.
However, as we recover from the financial impact of COVID-19, how can businesses afford the investment required to make the changes needed? What does a long-term strategy look like, and what’s realistic?
Strong domestic climate action is vital in demonstrating international leadership in the build-up to COP26. So, what does the UK need to do to ensure it retains international credibility, and helps manufacturing businesses to decarbonise? And how can this deliver a green economy that works for all?
- Public investments in COVID-19 green recovery packages
- Manchester Institute of Innovation Research - The University of Manchester
- Sustainable energy systems in the making: a study on business model adaptation in incumbent utilities
- Professor Jonatan Pinkse, Professor of Strategy, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, and Director of the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, The University of Manchester
Business decisions are traditionally based on factors that are easy to measure: profit and loss, output and value. However, the more nuanced ‘loss’, such as the cost to nature in the pursuit of value, has been hard to account for, until now.
Professor Paolo Quattrone presents a shift to value-added accounting, which considers environmental impacts as part of the bottom line. Providing stakeholders with the ability to account for their impact, this innovative approach will enable businesses to decide how much they are willing to give up to restore natural capital.
- Seeking transparency makes one blind: how to rethink disclosure, account for nature and make corporations sustainable
- Letter: Judiciary system is a good model for auditing (subscription needed)
- The income statement must speak to nature
- Professor Paolo Quattrone, Professor of Accounting, Governance and Society, and Director of Centre for the Analysis of Investment Risk (CAIR), Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS)
Accounting for climate change is already an important feature of modules at The University of Manchester for undergraduate and postgraduate students, but even more so when teaching those new to accounting.
How does teaching accounting need to change to reflect climate change risks, which students care deeply about? How do you link climate change to accounting and how should the risks it poses to the global economy be taught in novel and informative ways which challenge the status quo?
- Take part in our Accounting café, a LinkedIn group which discusses the teaching of accounting
- Jenni Rose's LinkedIn
- Find out more about an MBA with Alliance Manchester Business School
- Jennifer Rose, Senior Lecturer in the Accounting and Finance division at Alliance Manchester Business School
Collaboration – How can we turn ambition into reality?
We need to collaborate across sectors, cultures and countries to help to drive the transformation needed.
From the way we heat our homes and travel, to how we adapt to the ever-changing environment, by working collaboratively we can deliver progress, faster.
With more extreme weather expected as a result of the climate crisis, we are at a critical juncture where urgent measures are required to address widening energy inequality.
To support the energy-poor, Professor Stefan Bouzarovski has been developing grass-roots solutions in Manchester. STEP-IN Living Labs, an initiative in partnership with Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), is designed to bring real long-term benefits to communities, households and consumers in need.
What are the social and technical forces shaping urban energy consumption? How can this understanding be used to help wider health, environmental and societal issues? How can the work of STEP-IN inform other local approaches?
- Stefan Bouzarovski Twitter profile for latest research updates
- STEP IN advice tool
- Positive low energy futures report
How does the cultural sector move beyond bins, lightbulbs and building-based adaptations to more fully and creatively address the climate and ecological emergency for the people of our city region?
The opportunity in Manchester is for visible and compelling change, for the cultural sector to build upon its reputation and track record and make a discernible step-change – in terms of active carbon reduction, civic engagement, social justice and education.
- Ecological Thinking and Action
- hello future
- Carbon Literate museums are the future: 'Roots and Branches' project receives public funding (PDf, 148KB)
COP26 is the latest in nearly thirty years of Conferences of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Those negotiations have a chequered history, to say the least, with some notable agreements at Kyoto (1997) and Paris (2015) but also notable failures such as at Copenhagen (2009).
They have also been plagued by a series of recurrent conflicts over the appropriate design of international climate agreements, which reflect conflicts over inequalities in emissions, wealth and power, over whether ‘market mechanisms’ are a useful way to approach climate change, over how to deal with those parts of the world that suffer the worst of climate impacts, and because of domestic politics in the United States in particular.
The dynamics of these conflicts over time have shifted in some important ways, but remain the key conflicts that need to be overcome if Glasgow is to be any sort of success.
- Climate change and international political economy: between collapse and transformation
- ‘The End of the Fossil Fuel Age’? Discourse Politics and Climate Change Political Economy
- In search of climate politics: Why tackling climate change is far from just a technocratic exercise
- Professor Mathew Paterson, Professor of International Politics, The University of Manchester
Nuclear is enjoying a resurgence in popularity in the UK given its unique status as the only reliable, low-carbon generator available to the UK on a large scale. But beyond all this promise, how would England and Wales actually deliver a flourishing, large-scale nuclear sector?
The North West Nuclear Arc (NWNA) is a unique nuclear sector cluster, spanning the North of England and North Wales that incorporates all the facilities and capabilities across the whole nuclear lifecycle: from fuels, to energy production, management of waste and decommissioning.
- North West Nuclear Arc
- What is the North West Nuclear Arc? (PDF, 50.9MB)
- Jobs and investment in the North West Nuclear Arc (PDF, 2MB)
The climate crisis will affect the lives of billions of people. The poorest and most socially marginalised are likely to be the most affected. We have a huge responsibility to address underlying social inequalities as part of our response to climate change.
This means organisations need to consider who is making decisions, what their end goals are and whether their transformations will help or hinder equity and inclusion. But with sustainability the second least diverse discipline in the UK, second only to farming, how can we successfully fight climate change if we don’t first address our own social inequality?
How do systems thrive or fall – where we ‘join the eco-dots’ to build a bigger picture, about not only flood defences but the strategic levels – landscapes and livelihoods, future cities and future climates.
We explore systematically the ‘R word’ – resilience – with its social, technical, economic, ecological, political and cultural layers. We draw on topical research themes: peri-urban / climate (the project Peri-cene), Bio-regional 3.0 and Green New Deal 3.0.
This all points towards a systems co-evolution view on resilience – not a fixed condition, more a process of learning, co-creation and co-production – all adding up to a ‘collective resilience intelligence’.
- Resilience 3.0
- Laboratory for collective intelligence
- The New Normative – Carbon-Neutral Cities and Regions
- Joe Ravetz, Research Fellow at the Manchester Urban Institute, The University of Manchester
Nuclear fusion has the potential to be an abundant source of continuous, zero carbon-emitting power. Fusion research has been ongoing for many decades, and we are now entering a stage of huge growth: with ITER in progress, the new UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) STEP programme in place, and a huge number of private companies entering the scene. However, significant challenges remain that must be overcome before fusion power is connected to the grid.
What are the essential next steps? Where should our priorities lie? And, crucially, how can we ensure we build the robust global collaborations necessary to achieve fusion's full potential?
- Fusion roadmap – published by UKAEA and Royce
- Nuclear fusion: building a star on Earth is hard, which is why we need better materials
- Fusion Reddit AMA
- Dr Aneeqa Khan, Harwell Research Fellow in Fusion, The University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute
It is not just governments that need to respond to the challenge of climate change. Communities across the world have an important role to play in building their own resilience and providing a local resilience capability to mitigate, prepare, respond, and recover from emergencies when they happen. Communities can collaborate with policymakers, businesses and each other in order to make themselves more resilient.
- National Consortium for Societal Resilience [UK+]
- Recovery, Renewal, Resilience supporting local government via The Manchester Briefing
- The Manchester Briefing’s database of 600+ lessons on COVID-19
- Professor Duncan Shaw, Professor of Operations and Critical Systems, Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS)
How can the arts spark conversations around climate change? Discover some of the arts-based approaches researchers have developed to engage citizens in dialogue, learning and action around climate change.
- Amrita's Journey
- Sounding the Siren
- The Cucusonic album
- Watch the Cucusonic film (password: cucusonic)
- Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology
- In Place of War