Highlights of 2019-2020
The Grantham Institute’s vision is for a sustainable, resilient, zero-carbon society. These highlights show just some of the progress towards that goal in 2019–20.
Comment on COVID-19 spreads worldwide
Imperial is a global scientific and opinion leader on the COVID-19 virus and spread of the pandemic. The Grantham Institute has contributed to thinking about the role of local government in creating new green jobs, the benefits of active travel and cycling safely in the city, the mental health benefits of green spaces and what the pandemic can teach academics about how to communicate climate modelling. Researchers have also published new scientific data about the effect of lockdown on planetary health and advised government about the benefits of a green recovery, as well as answering questions directly from the public.
WATCH: COVID-19: A hope for our natural world?
[Image credit: nito100]
Vows renewed in partnership with Sainsbury’s
During the last ten years, Imperial’s research partnership with Sainsbury’s, supported by the Grantham Institute, has sought to reduce the carbon footprint of one of the largest food retailers in the UK. This year Sainsbury’s committed to cutting its operational carbon emissions to net zero by 2040 and extended the partnership with Imperial for another five years. The Grantham Institute brought together researchers in engineering, design, public health and behaviour change to learn more about the supermarket’s goals for sustainability. They then discussed ideas for collaborative research to address challenges including reducing plastic waste and energy consumption and adapting to a warming climate.
FIND OUT MORE: The Imperial-Sainsbury’s partnership
Poetry tackled nature in online slam
In a new collaboration to highlight people’s relationship with the environment, the Grantham Institute organised a poetry competition (or ‘slam’). The event gave a platform for spoken-word artists to talk about the natural environment and climate change during the first ever socially distant Imperial Lates event: Back to Nature. The slam crowned Elle Dillon-Reams as its first winner. The Grantham Institute’s Dr Robin Lamboll, who is an award-winning poet, also gave a performance.
WATCH: Nature Slam on Youtube
UK warned about warming Arctic
In a year of record-breaking temperatures in the Arctic Circle, where temperatures reached 38°C, Professor Martin Siegert has drawn attention to the immediacy of the problem and what it means for the United Kingdom. The Grantham Institute Co-Director led the publication of a briefing note with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, and top polar experts. It called for a ‘strategic priorities fund’ to better understand how global warming will change the Arctic and affect the UK. The authors’ recommendation for a UK Arctic science strategy has gained the support of Parliamentarians and various government departments.
READ MORE: What record-breaking temperatures in the Arctic mean for the UK
[Image credit: NASA/Kathryn Hansen]
Health and climate allies stood together at COP25
Integrating health and climate policy, often referred to as the ‘co-benefits’ approach, effectively cements commitment to protect human civilisation and the health of the planet. At the 25th UN Climate Summit (COP25) in Madrid, the Grantham Institute convened experts from the international Climate and Clean Air Coalition, Sweden, Mexico, Cote d’Ivoire and the United States to discuss how highlighting the implications of health issues like air pollution can raise the enthusiasm for tackling climate change. Imperial expert Professor Paolo Vineis addressed the audience about the links between diet, human health and the health of the planet.
READ MORE: Blog by Professor Vineis - "COVID-19 and planetary change: the food system is sick"
[Image credit: Damian Bakarcic / Flickr CC-BY-2.0]
The burning case for a Green New Deal
“The world is on fire”, warned award-winning journalist Naomi Klein, speaking at an event hosted by the Grantham Institute and the Institute for Public Policy Research. Fellow speaker 15-year-old Scarlett Westbrook, of the UK Student Climate Network, said: “The less privileged will disproportionately bear the brunt of climate change.” However, Shadow Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Labour MP for Doncaster North, Ed Miliband, said: “Lots of people don’t have access to the kind of things they need to make [lifestyle] changes – such as healthy food or electric cars”. Together, they made the case for a Green New Deal, a visionary political agenda that aims to tackle climate change and social inequality.