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.

Research briefing on Policy Reform and Community Energy

By Bridget Elliott on 6th August 2013

This briefing summarises some conclusions from the Community Innovation in Sustainable Energy (CISE) research project which involves researchers in the Sussex Energy Group (SPRU, University of Sussex) and 3S (University of East Anglia). Timed to inform the development of the UK Government’s Community Energy Strategy, the briefing comprises three main sections. First, it makes a case for government to play a role in supporting and further developing the nascent community energy sector in the UK.

Researchers at the Tyndall Centre have informed the UK Government’s Balance of Competences review of the many ways in which European Union (EU) environmental policy affects the UK.  They argue that the EU has very significantly affected (or ‘Europeanised’) many fundamental aspects of UK policy on the environment and climate change. In particular, the report highlights improved environmental standards across many areas, higher levels of scientific monitoring and public information, and an enhanced ability to exert international leadership on broad issues such as climate change.

WRI online portal of GHG emissions data

By Bridget Elliott on 23rd July 2013

The World Resources Institute (WRI) has recently launched a free, online portal that provides data on greenhouse gas emissions from 186 countries and all 50 U.S. states. The Climate Analysis Indicators Tool, or ‘CAIT 2.0’, allows users to view, sort, visualize, and download data sets for comparative analysis, eliminating the need to wade through multiple sources of global greenhouse gas emissions data. It is hoped that the tool will enable users from government, business, academia, the media, and civil society to more effectively explore, understand, and communicate climate change issues.

This book presents a critique of the aims and policies for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). The author argues how initiatives for REDD have been widely endorsed by policy-makers despite many of the social and governance aspects of it being implausible. In particular, the book deals with the issue of the feasibility of carbon trading and other incentives that encourage land-owners and indigenous people, particularly in developing tropical countries, to conserve forests, rather than to cut them down for agricultural or other development purposes.

This report offers a practical guide for policy-makers to improve energy efficiency in urban transport systems. After outlining why improving energy efficiency in urban transport is important, the report highlights policies that have been implemented in Belgrade, New York City and Seoul to demonstrate how common responses can be applied in different local contexts to achieve transport system improvements. Barriers to improving urban transport energy efficiency are analysed in the report, and the key polices (including interventions and measures) to overcome them are listed.

Defra has recently published this quick reference guide that shares lessons learnt on sustainable procurement of construction projects from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The aim of the guide is to assist procurers in central government and the wider public sector to manage large or smaller procurement exercises that relate to construction in a way that achieves sustainability objectives.

New research released last week has revealed that people in Britain are fully supportive of the idea of energy system change, highlighting that the public wants and expects change with regard to how energy is supplied, used and governed. The research, which was funded by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and carried out by a team from the Universities of Cardiff and Nottingham, examined the key factors which are influential in public assessment of proposed changes.

A new paper published in Nature Climate Change last week presents evidence that suggests economic stagnation is no excuse for climate inaction. The paper describes how governments have increasingly been using the economic fallout as an excuse for climate inaction, and presents a range of calculations that support why governments should resist the urge to use the economy as an excuse for failing to implement what they see as economically stifling climate policies.

The Climate Outreach and Information Network have released a new report focusing on how to engage centre-right audiences more effectively around climate change. This report summarises and condenses academic and policy research on climate change communication into a set of principles, recommendations and core messages. Four narratives for engaging centre-right audiences more effectively are identified including: localism; energy security; the green economy/‘new’ environmentalism; and the Good Life.

This book assesses the use of ‘new’ environmental policy instruments in European Union countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, and analyses whether traditional forms of top-down government have given way to less hierarchical governance instruments, which rely strongly on societal self-steering and/or market forces.