Research and Resources

Explore sustainability-related research and resources here, including recently released reports, journal articles, online tools and databases. Use the left sidebar to filter resources by theme.

This policy brief, commissioned by the Wuppertal Institute, outlines various options for stabilising market prices so as to avoid a complete halt of the international carbon markets. A number of options to increase demand and restrict supply are presented, with a focus on options that have a short-term effect and can be implemented in a timely manner.

Defra has published this report on behalf of Government to provide an overview of what has been achieved so far in the move towards mainstreaming sustainable development. The report is intended to facilitate scrutiny of Government’s progress to date, and describes how Government continues to move towards fully embedding sustainable development in its policies and operations. It argues that solid foundations have been put in place to enable further improvement in this area. The report will likely be of interest to those with a concern for sustainability in Government, but also more widely.

This new report by the Committee on Climate Change highlights the importance of committing to the investment of low-carbon generation through the 2020s. The findings of the report indicate that the current high degree of uncertainty about development of the power system beyond 2020 threatens to undermine electricity market reform. Unless this is addressed, projects coming on to the system before 2020 are likely to be at high cost and there could be an investment hiatus for projects coming on after 2020.

Recommendations from the LOWCAP (Low Carbon Regions in the North Sea) project have now been published online. LOWCAP is a partnership of organisations from the UK, Germany, Belgium and Norway working together to deliver a common approach towards carbon reduction and energy efficiency within the North Sea Region. The report describes how translating EU-wide targets into practical initiatives which deliver real change is a major challenge for policy-makers on all policy levels.

This latest edition of Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World series explores the rhetoric surrounding sustainability, including how the term ‘sustainable’ has become so widely used that it has become ‘sustainababble’, at best indicating a slightly less damaging practice or product than the conventional alternative. Some of the questions asked in the book include: is it time to abandon the concept altogether, or is there an accurate way to measure sustainability? If so, how can it be achieved? And if not, how is best to prepare for the inevitable ecological decline?

This new report by The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) proposes a new paradigm for sustainable development in order to ‘avert environmental and subsequent social and economic collapse’. The report argues that the current emphasis on an integrated consideration of environmental, social and economic components of sustainability is undermined by poor decision making, weak governance and institutional frameworks. The resulting factor is the prioritisation of economic growth over environmental and resource conservation.

New tool to calculate nitrogen footprint

By Bridget Elliott on 30th May 2013

A new web-based tool known as the N-Calculator has been developed by scientists at Lancaster, Virginia and Oxford universities, and allows anyone living in the UK to calculate their own ‘nitrogen footprint’. The tool asks users to enter information on topics such as their food consumption, transportation choices, and housing situation in order to calculate their likely effect on the environment in terms of nitrogen pollution. Nitrogen pollution is a major environmental problem that is causing significant damage to air and water quality across the UK.

YouGov on British climate change attitudes

By Bridget Elliott on 30th May 2013

This article outlines the results of YouGov’s annual tracker of British attitudes to renewable energy, and highlights that there is stable and overwhelming consensus in the belief that the planet is warming and humans are either wholly or partly to blame. This is despite a decline since the onset of economic crisis in the number of those who are interested in the issue or attach high urgency to it. According to results, 72% of the British public described themselves as interested in the issue of “global warming and climate change” in 2008, compared to just 59% in 2012.

Since 2007, the world has suffered three rounds of high food prices, caused by a variety of factors from extreme weather events to civil conflict. A recently-published study  looked at policy responses to price crises in the United States, the European Union and 14 middle- and low-income countries throughout Asia, Latin America, and Africa south of the Sahara, and indicated that poor policy decisions were also a significant contributing factor.

This new report provides an overview that sets out the drivers, benefits and vision for Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) in the UK and is based on findings from a collaborative project that included extensive consultation and a literature review to understand the role of WSUD in the UK. The report describes WSUD as the process of integrating water cycle management with the built environment through planning and urban design.