On the 7th March Jannik Giesekam presented at the annual Ecobuild conference at the London ExCel. This year’s conference focused on redefining sustainability in the built environment. Jannik presented in a session on ‘Carbon emissions in the built environment: Current status of emissions and activities’ alongside speakers from the Green Construction Board, M&S and Arup. Jannik’s talk was entitled ‘UK carbon emissions in design, construction and operation’ and the slides can be downloaded here.
On the 15th February CIEMAP researcher Jannik Giesekam participated in the Healthy Buildings Conference and Expo, organised by the Alliance for Sustainable Building Products (ASBP) and hosted by UCL. The conference focussed on how careful product selection can have a positive influence on occupant and planetary health. Expert speakers addressed current occupant health issues such as overheating, moisture and mould, and indoor air quality and explored how building products can exacerbate the problem or provide a solution. Jannik gave a presentation on the importance of low carbon, resource efficient building products in maintaining a healthy planet. Jannik also chaired a session on ‘Problem solving with healthy products’ and participated in a panel discussion answering the question ‘What do we need to do to increase the uptake of healthy products?’. All presentations from the day are available from the ASBP site.
Anne Owen publishes new book: Techniques for Evaluating the Differences in Multiregional Input-Output Databases
This book introduces the Eora, Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) and World Input-Output (WIOD) databases and provides detailed metadata on the data sources, database structures and construction techniques used to build each system. It offers a detailed account of how multi-regional input–output (MRIO) databases are used to calculate consumption-based accounts – guiding the reader through each mathematical step and explaining the associated equations. It demonstrates that different MRIO databases calculate different national level consumption-based CO2 accounts. If these results are to be used as evidence in climate policy-making, analysts need to be confident about the accuracy of the databases and understand why the results differ.
It carefully explains the mathematical equations behind each technique and provides a link to a repository where the reader can access specially prepared MATLAB functions associated with the techniques.
To make meaningful comparisons between the three MRIO databases, each is mapped to a consistent classification system comprising 40 countries and 17 sectors. Further, readers can access the aggregated databases using the link provided. The effect of this aggregation is shown to be minimal, so readers can be confident that the aggregated versions of each database reflect the full-sized versions.
The book concludes by making recommendations as to how future MRIO databases could be accurately and consistently constructed and how they should be used in policy-making in light of the findings.
Buy the book here.
Original article here.
Energy efficiency is often seen as a win-win: falling energy use benefits consumers and the environment, whilst it also allows the economy to grow. However, our recent research into energy rebound or ‘take back’ (when energy efficiency can be cancelled out by changes in people’s behaviour) suggests it may hamper the effectiveness of policy aimed at reducing energy use and its associated carbon emissions.
Why we need more policy ‘headroom’
Climate change is rightly seen as the biggest threat to our planet. Since energy related CO2 emissions are 80 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, a significant policy effort has been focused on reducing energy use and decarbonising energy supply. The problem of energy rebound has been known since Jevons highlighted it over 150 years ago, when he suggested that energy efficiency may increase – not decrease – energy use.
Our research estimated the size of overall national level rebound for the UK and, in line with other studies, we found evidence for a partial rebound effect: where only around 70 per cent of planned savings actually occur.
Some might wonder if this means we should abandon efficiency as part of the solution. The short answer is no. Instead, we should remember that energy efficiency policies are still working, just not quite as well as we hoped. The way to address rebound in this case is to build in sufficient policy ‘headroom’, increasing energy efficiency targets to allow for predicted energy take back via rebound.
What about the industrialising world?
We also looked at the case of China, and found evidence for possible ‘backfire’, where energy use is actually higher than before energy efficiency technologies were introduced. Why is this so? It suggests that larger rebounds occur in industrialising countries (the UK in Jevons’ time), as efficiency accelerates the cycle of lowering the cost of production, thereby increasing production, and further reducing costs.
So is rebound in this case a bad thing? Again, no. Energy efficiency was done for economic reasons long before we knew about climate change. Helping to lower the cost of energy services has had wide social benefits in the spread of lighting, transport, heating etc, greatly improving quality of life for millions across the globe. But now those benefits need to be balanced against the need to cut CO2 emissions.
The presence of backfire suggests a different response to the policy headroom suggested for the UK. If we think of renewables and energy efficiency as two policy dials, then, if the energy efficiency dial isn’t working to reduce energy demand due to backfire, the renewables dial should be turned up to compensate and ensure we can keep global warming within target limits.
Renewables ‘rebound’ is a good thing
If renewables are undercutting fossil-based power, won’t their cheaper price lead to something akin to rebound too? Perhaps, but an increase in energy use due to falling renewables prices may (in contrast to energy efficiency induced rebound) be beneficial for cutting climate change emissions, if it lowers the cost of renewables further and accelerates the displacement of fossil fuels with cheaper, clean energy.
Rebound gets a lot of interest from policy contrarians, and our research suggests that it’s a significant challenge for rapidly industrialising countries. But energy efficiency has improved lives across the world and its benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Rather than allowing rebound to cast doubt on the policy, we just need to better understand the scale of rebound, and respond appropriately: by building headroom into our energy efficiency policies in the UK and speeding up the renewables transition to deal with backfire.
Dr Kate Scott, Research Fellow in the Sustainability Research Institute and inaugural Priestley Centre Piers Seller prize winner, was recently selected to attend Science for Sustainable Development Early-career Leaders Day. In this blog Kate shares her experience.
The Network of Early-Career Sustainable Scientists and Engineers (NESSE) teamed up with the UK Collaborative on Development Sciences (UKCDS), Royal Society of Chemistry, and British Council to organise a Science for Sustainable Development Early-Career Leaders Day on the 2nd of December in London. Researchers across a range of disciplines met to share ideas, build connections with other young leaders, and discuss how to contribute to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) through a facilitated workshop.
Guido Schmidt-Traib, the Executive Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, opened with a talk inspiring us, as scientists, to think creatively about the challenges ahead. The SDGs are to be implemented universally and provide a framework with the aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all – not an easy task. The SDGs comprise of 17 goals and 169 associated targets, for example to eradicate poverty, provide quality education for all, and implement affordable and clean energy.
We set to work in small groups, with a deliberate disciplinary mix, to develop a collaborative 3 year funding proposal to contribute to at least one of the SDGs. We were encouraged to develop a solution-focused research approach, to identify our target audience and to think about how to engage with them throughout the course of the project. We were to build on the expertise and strengths of our working group.
In just 3 hours, my group had developed an ambitious 3 year proposal to create sustainable and resilient agricultural communities in rural Indonesia, a topic quite far from my research on climate mitigation policy in the UK. We set out to investigate and find solutions for (1) the social sustainability of agriculture in Indonesia, which is dominated by Multi-national Corporation’s production of palm oil; (2) the environmental impacts of different agricultural practices, which are currently depleting the areas forests and biodiversity; and (3) the economic sustainability of business practices in the region and opportunities to diversify community income. Through discussion we were able to identify how our different strengths and skills could be put to practice. I research the environmental and social impacts of global supply chains and could look at the global implications of unsustainable production processes, the social imbalances among producers and consumers, and the potential risks to business supply chains. Everyone in the group was able to contribute, and it was a definite strength of our proposal.
Whilst a challenge, there was definitely momentum for truly interdisciplinary research that shows a clear route to having impact on the ground. It needs researchers to be proactive and get out and talk to people, even when the connection might not be so obvious. In 20 years’ time the research landscape could look quite different than today’s. It is likely that more priority will be placed on interdisciplinary approaches to problem solving, and there was support for more emphasis to be placed on research impact compared to a publication benchmark. As Early Career Researchers we can help shape this.
If you would like to find out more about how to get involved see NESSE’s website (http://www.sustainablescientists.org/).
Jannik Giesekam has recently completed a series of talks to UK Industry experts focused on low carbon construction in the UK.
On Thursday 10th November he presented at a Construction Climate Challenge seminar on the topic of ‘Reducing Carbon in Infrastructure Construction‘. Watch the video of Jannik’s talk, ‘Where is the carbon in construction?‘. You can also view the slides from Jannik’s talk here: where-is-the-carbon-in-construction.
On Tuesday 29th November he presented at the annual Carbon Crunch event at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London. This event is the annual follow up to the Infrastructure Carbon Review. Jannik’s presentation focused on building-on-the-paris-agreement (The role of low carbon construction in the UK) and other speakers at the event included representatives from National Grid, Yorkshire Water, Costain, BSI, Mott MacDonald and the Infrastructure Client Group.
And then on Wednesday 30th November he presented at a CIRIA event on ‘Innovative paths to low carbon infrastructure‘. This talk dealt with barriers-to-low-carbon-innovation. Other speakers at this event included Highways England, London Underground, Crossrail, and Anglian Water.
You can find more of Jannik Giesekam’s work on his website here: http://www.jannikgiesekam.co.uk/
Original Article Here.
Dr Marco Sakai, Dr Kate Scott and Prof John Barrett of the CIE-MAP Centre argue that measuring carbon emissions by consumption rather than production would more accurately and fairly allocate responsibility for meeting climate change targets.
As the COP22 UN Climate Change conference drew to a close in Morocco last week, many of the world’s nations were reinforcing their commitment to mitigating climate change and attempting to meet global emissions targets. To honour these pledges, countries must have accurate ways of measuring what their emissions are and how they are decreasing or increasing. Moreover, the question of who is ultimately responsible for the emissions (regardless of where they happen geographically) has continued to be a contested issue that has proved difficult to bring into the negotiations.
This is a complex technical and political issue. The question of what is the most appropriate means of measuring emissions has been debated for as long as there have been targets. While the UN community of nations recognises the common responsibility to address climate change, there is of course a huge variety in the extent and ability to cut emissions in different countries across the world. The issue of whether developing nations should be expected to reduce emissions at the same rate as developed nations – as the former strive to ‘catch up’ – is also a major debate. As the extent of action needed to reduce climate change has become apparent, the Paris Agreement has broadened the scope by including developing nations. Thus, all nations are expected to address their emissions irrespective of country classifications.
This area is a major focus of the Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and Products (CIE-MAP). In a recent paper, they have explored the possibilities of changing the way emissions are accounted for.
Production-based vs consumption-based accounting
Internationally, responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is normally measured according to a production-based (PB) accounting approach. This method focusses on greenhouse gases emitted within the borders of a particular country. However, this approach does not account for emissions created by demand for products from other countries. For example, if a shipment of plastic toys is produced in China to meet demand in the UK, the environmental impact of the production and shipping process is created by UK importers and consumers. So with PB accounting some of the environmental impact of the consumer nation can be hidden from the figures.
Given the complexity of the global economy, researchers argue that other methods must be explored. With consumption-based (CB) accounting all the emissions that occurred in the course of production and distribution to the final consumers of goods and services are considered, and would be allocated to the consumer country.
The future of carbon accounting?
Many experts favour a switch to CB accounting, as it would change the dynamics of how we look at the problem and shift accountability. With 20-25% of overall CO2 emissions created from the production of internationally traded products, more responsibility would be placed on the importers (consumers) than the exporters. As developed countries tend to import more and developing countries export more, the onus would be placed on the developed nations to reduce the emissions created by their demand for products from exporters. This would in turn mean that the importing countries would need to address their policies regarding reducing consumer demand and reducing internal emissions to offset the higher burden. They may also seek to influence the production and transportation processes of their suppliers in the developing world.
There are arguments for and against switching to CB accounting (or creating a blend of different methods) and it is a highly complicated and technical issue – which is covered in much more detail in our paper. But in this brief overview we can see that in the global effort to mitigate climate change, it is important to locate the root causes of CO2 emissions in order to address the problem most effectively. We conclude that a complete redesign of the international climate change regime in favour of CB accounting seems unlikely at this stage. Yet, we believe that mandatory reporting of CB emissions should be encouraged. This would allow the international community to design effective policies and tools to mitigate emissions embodied in trade.
Afionis, S., Sakai, M., Scott, K., Barrett, J. and Gouldson, A. (2016) Consumption-based carbon accounting: does it have a future? WIRE Climate Change Journal
Dr Marco Sakai, Dr Kate Scott and Prof John Barrett are based at the Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and Products (CIE-MAP) at the School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds. CIE-MAP is one of six RCUK End Use Energy Demand Centres
Photo credit: By Wmeinhart [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
On October 27th CIEMAP took a lead role at an event bringing together industry, trade associations, academics, and policy stakeholders to feed into BEIS’s industrial strategy.
This event – held at the BEIS conference centre – aimed to highlight the necessity of building the circular economy (reuse, recycle, repair, durability) into the UK’s future industrial plans in order to meet COP21 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets. This will be a challenging process but also offers the opportunity for the UK to become a world leader in new industrial practices.
The work will feed into the practical plans needed to enact the findings of the 2050 Industrial Roadmaps, (which were published in 2015 and gave recommendations for reducing GHG targets in the eight most energy intensive industries in the UK (iron and steel; chemicals; oil refining; food and drink; pulp and paper; cement; glass; ceramics)
The delegates heard from Niall Mackenzie, Director of Infrastructure and Materials (BEIS) who confirmed that outcomes of the conference would be fed into a green paper for the Autumn statement (23/11/16) and a white paper for next year’s budget laying out the government’s industrial strategy. The group also heard the positions of BEIS and Defra on the Industrial Roadmaps and the circular economy from Charlie Lewis, Head of Industrial Decarbonisation and Energy Efficiency (BEIS), and Arjan Geveke, Assistant Director of Energy Policy (BEIS).
The CIE-MAP presentation focused on the need to build the circular economy into energy intensive industries and the opportunities it provides. CIE-MAP argues that more emphasis needs to be placed on looking across the whole supply chain to lifecycle analysis, product design, and recycling products and materials.
The big questions
The remainder of the day was spent with the different stakeholders – including Prof Geoff Hammond of the Bath CIE-MAP team – discussing the big questions facing energy intensive industries in relation to the circular economy:
1) how lifecycle thinking in energy intensive industries can be accelerated and embedded
2) how products can be designed to be more durable and recyclable
3) how management can structure businesses to realise energy and material efficiency
4) how these industries can work with government to reduce GHG emissions in an increasingly global supply chain
5) how government can help these industries move up the value chain.
The event is an example of the EUED Centres’ work with government and industry colleagues to use research to help build practical solutions to major UK and global energy issues.
Tuesday 6 December, Newton Building, Nottingham Trent University, City Campus
We are delighted to announce a forthcoming PLATE (Product Lifetimes and the Environment) seminar. This event will give you the opportunity to find out about the latest developments in policy and practice on product lifetimes, planned obsolescence, reuse, and repair.
The aim of the event is to discuss innovative and ground breaking approaches to product longevity, set within the policy and civil context of the UK and EU. Our excellent keynote speakers include an entrepreneur, a representative from the European Commission and two leading researchers:
- Tara Button (BuyMeOnce.com)
- Dr Carlos Montalvo (TNO, Netherlands)
- Dr Ines Oehme (Federal Environment Agency, Germany)
- Ferenc Pekár (DG Environment)
The seminar will build on the success of the first PLATE Conference, held at NTU in 2015, and announce plans for the second international PLATE Conference, which will take place in November 2017.
This seminar is open to the public, staff and students. There is a booking fee associated with this seminar:
- £50 (including VAT): Staff and general public.
- £25 (including VAT): Student (Student ID will be required on arrival at event).
Visit the NTU Online Store to make your booking using either a credit or debit card.
If you have an enquiry about this event, please email us or call Dr Christine Cole on +44 (0)115 848 6011.
The PhD Research on Sustainable Development Summer School was held at the University of Basel in Basel, Switzerland from the 18th to the 22nd of July.
Presentations were given by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Buchholz from the University of Resensburg in economics, Prof. Dr. Konrad Steffen from Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL in natural sciences, and Prof. Dr. Susan Baker from Cardiff University in social sciences.
Kyungeun Sung presented her PhD research on Sustainable production and consumption by upcycling: Understanding and scaling up niche environmentally significant behaviour and contributed to the discussions on various conceptions of sustainability and sustainable development in different disciplines.