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Climate Action - Research

How we're undertaking research that enables the transition to a low carbon future and delivers solutions for adaptation.

Research with Impact

Our research is leading to low-carbon living.

We are exploring how we travel, build, manufacture, heat and eat more sustainably, bringing together innovative technological solutions with insight into human behaviour, policy and society.

Discover more about our research into:

The stories showcased in the 2021 REF impact case studies (Research Excellence Framework) also bring to life how our research is:

Research Centres and Institutes

Our researchers make significant contributions to reducing carbon emissions in wider society.

Researchers across all disciplines at the University of Bath work directly or indirectly tackling challenges related to the climate emergency, many in collaboration with local organisations and businesses to deliver impact.

Examples include:

  • The Institute for Sustainability (IfS) is a multidisciplinary organsiation working with more than 100 businesses to decarbonise industry and scale up sustainable technologies through major projects such as IDRIC, which brings together industry and academia to cut industrial greenhouse gases and iCAST, which will help businesses to scale up new sustainable chemical technology research to help tackle the global challenges of the climate emergency, sustainable development and plastics pollution.

  • The Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) supports the automotive industry to develop ultra-low and zero-emission vehicles. The IAAPS team has supported propulsion research for over 40 years and offers a unique combination of academic and industrial expertise in all propulsion types.

  • The Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST) is a global hub for understanding the systemic and society-wide transformations that are required to address climate change. It researches and develops the social transformations needed to produce a low-carbon and sustainable society; at the core of CAST’s work is a fundamental question of enormous social significance: “How can we as a society live differently – and better – in ways that meet the urgent need for rapid and far-reaching emission reductions?”.

  • The Centres for Innovative Construction Materials (CICM) and Energy and the Design of Environments (EDEn). Both centres are based in the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering: CICM conducts innovative research and consultancy in sustainable construction materials, building technologies, and structural engineering; EDEn conducts innovative research and consultancy in sustainable building design and environmental engineering, including renewable energy and energy efficiency.

  • The Centre for Business, Organisations and Society (CBOS) is rethinking business in a sustainable society; providing the evidence base to get there.

  • The Institute for Sustainable Energy & the Environment (I-SEE) brings together academic, industry and policy experts to present, review and discuss topics of popular interest in the UK and global energy sector.

  • The Centre for Development Studies' interdisciplinary and collaborative researchers engage with international development policy and practice. The work of CDS links development to pursuit of human wellbeing, poverty reduction, environmental sustainability and social justice. It reflects the complexity of development as a contested concept, and the contribution diversity, plurality and collaboration can make to understanding development.

  • The Institute for Policy Research (IPR) works with scientists, engineers and social scientists to research and develop solutions to the interconnected economic, social and environmental challenges we face in the UK and globally.

  • The Institute for Mathematical Innovation is leading the delivery of multi-disciplinary and mathematically grounded research contextualised by real-world, societal and industrial challenge.

UN SDG 13 climate action

Of the seventeen UN Sustainable Development goals, goal 13 focuses on climate action.

Images depicting the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed in 2015 as a blueprint for a sustainable world to be achieved by the year 2030.

The seventeen goals cover economic, social and environmental issues including ending poverty and hunger, providing quality education, reducing inequalities, conserving marine ecosystems and acting on climate change, and between them contain 169 separate targets.

There are linkages between all the SDGs and research across the goals will have an impact on the climate agenda, but SDG 13 focuses on this with a call to 'Take Urgent Action to Combat Climate Change and its impacts'.

Explore how our researchers and their work are contributing towards achieving goal 13 Climate Action:

Directing research toward major challenges

Alongside our research centres, we are also directing research towards climate related challenges through the Bath Beacons and the GW4 Alliance.

The multidisciplinary Bath Beacons initiative empowers our research community to tackle major global challenges by building consortia for large-scale funding. This includes:

  • Sustainable and automated transport research - solving key problems facing sustainable transportation systems

  • Living well now and by 2050 - Improving social and environmental justice by engendering new and inclusive practices of living well.

  • Future fuels - building research capacity, facilities, and expertise across the University in the production, storage, distribution and end use of hydrogen and hydrogen carriers.

The GW4 Climate Alliance brings together four of the most research-intensive and innovative universities in the UK: Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. Through the climate alliance, GW4 is seeking to lead the regional response to the climate emergency, and build a community of climate expertise within the Southwest England and South Wales region and beyond, using a whole systems approach – working across different areas such as health, mobility, land use, food and energy – to find transformative solutions to the crisis. The challenge of climate change is global, but solutions need to work at the local and regional level. The GW4 Climate Alliance will connect researchers with policymakers, industry and the public to influence change through long-term partnerships

Reducing the climate impact of our research

The type of research we do is important, but we are also looking at how we can mimimise any emissions resulting from conducting that work.

Martin Levere receiving the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) awards for MC²

Alongside the content and impact of our research, we are also considering the carbon impact of the way we conduct that research. In September 2021, we launched a pilot of LEAF (Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework) working with labs from across our faculties.

Since then, we have already made a number of achievements:

  • the Frost/Taylor laboratory were the first lab on campus to achieve LEAF bronze accreditation
  • MC² achieved bronze certification for 100% of their labs in August 2022
  • ultra-low temperature freezers (ULTs) were warmed up from -80°C to 70°C in 2023 in the Departments of Health and Life Sciences, saving an estimated 30% of their energy use
  • more than 50 labs from eight departments have now signed up to LEAF

If your lab is interested in joining LEAF, please contact the Climate Action team for an informal discussion.

We have taken the opportunity to consider how carbon considerations are embedded in our research ethics approach and have provided guidance to support researchers to quantify and minimise the carbon emissions in preparation of research proposals.

Moving forward with implementation of the Climate Action Framework we continue to support and encourage use of the university campus and community in Living Lab research. The transition to a low carbon campus and the decarbonisation of our heating provide real life opportunities to benefit from our own research. For example, in developing an approach to embedding low carbon in our building and refurbishment projects we have drawn on the depth and breadth of expertise in our own Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering.