One of the first actions from our Academic Strategy is to launch a transformational cross-disciplinary programme in research, education and innovation that will help society: ‘Transition to Zero Pollution’.
We will bring together researchers across Imperial to help realise a new low-carbon future by building new partnerships across fundamental science and engineering, systems thinking, human health, new business models and policymaking.
Human-made pollution in its many forms can now be found in virtually every ecosystem on Earth – from the highest peaks to the deepest ocean trenches. Humanity’s attempts to deal with this have met with mixed success. One problem is that we tend to view different forms of pollution in isolation, when in fact they are highly interconnected. For example, CO2 is a major and urgent pollutant, but focussing solely on CO2 has in some cases led us neglect other localised forms of pollution such as harmful airborne particulate matter. The transition to a zero pollution future will require a truly joined-up approach to problem solving.
Scientists, engineers, clinicians and economists must work together to come up with innovative technologies and policies that address not just a single problem but the entire system and life cycle.
The project will tackle global pollution through major new research programmes in:
- Zero pollution technologies: from developing sustainable raw materials, to changing how we produce things and recycle them
- Sustainable water-food-energy: ensuring that we use water and produce food and energy in a sustainable way
- Environmental health: better our understanding of air and water pollution, their impact on human health, and how to mitigate them
- Zero pollution economy: developing innovative economic and business models for a sustainable society.