Insights & expertise

Life after lockdown: Environment

“We must think creatively, to innovate and to avoid clinging to procedures just because they are familiar. On environmental policy, we can do better.” – George Eustice MP on changing our mindset about protecting the environment.

Saving the planet doesn’t have to cost the earth

Did the environment improve during lockdown? Images of smog-filled skylines changed during lockdown, with clean air coming back to major urban areas, but how long will the impact last? A study involving our environmental experts suggests that the impacts will be minimal unless we capitalise on wholesale changes to our way of life.

Will we remember the lessons learnt?. How can society, industry and governments maintain and build upon these enforced adaptations?

One thing that everyone can agree on, at the present time, is that COVID-19 has given us an opportunity to take a long, hard look at how we can mitigate our impact on the environment, with economies looking to restart in more sustainable and more resilient ways. Here’s how can our experts at Imperial help guide your business to making decisions that save money – and save the planet.

Putting policies into practice

Reseachers from the likes of our Centre for Environmental Policy, Grantham Institute and Energy Futures lab are among the experts constantly called upon for evidence in national and international debates about climate policy and related behavioural changes.

Our integrated approach to doing the hard research as well as interpreting impacts puts us in an excellent position to assess and consult on a variety of policy areas, from renewable energy and waste reduction to urban planning and transportation.

This latest piece of research shows that some simple changes to policies, production lines and consumer behaviour could reduce the amount of plastic waste by up to 80% of current predictions by 2040. That’s a hugely positive outcome for the environment in a post-COVID world.

Recently, experts across a range of fields at Imperial were called upon to give advice and guidance to the UK Government’s Environment Bill, prior to it being discussed in the House of Lords.

Check out our focus page on how energy companies and relevant authorities can utilise Imperial’s expertise to enhance their environmental credentials and support customers to do the same.#

In addition to technological developments, policies and behaviours that encourage and enable populations to take significant improvements in reducing waste and creating less pollution are vital. Imperial’s Transition to Zero Pollution initiative aims to do just that, by combining world-leading expertise in materials technology, the energy sector, manufacturing and design – helping corporate organisations improve their credentials – with policy engagement and outreach to further-enhance the financial and societal reasons for all of us to address the issue.

The initiative was recently launched with a keynote speech by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and previously UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, on 23 September 2020.

Technical solutions to age-old problems

Our scientists and researchers have designed technologies and services that address some of the practical issues faced by businesses when making decisions about resource allocation and management. Among others, check out:


The financial benefits of environmental sensitivity

From protecting the environment, ecosystems and population’s water supplies to protecting your company from going under, our experts have a wealth of experience in whole-system management. Change isn’t cheap, but when there is no Planet B, the costs of retrofitting solutions will be far higher than making meaningful interventions now.


How can Imperial help you?

Speak with our experts on Climate Change, Finance and Management, the value of ecosystem services for national and international benefits, and soft- and hard-engineering solutions to enable change and empower communities to make environmentally and financially sustainable decisions.

Imperial’s Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment – supports and reports on some of the UK’s leading research around the impact on the environment and climate change from and on populations around the world, while the Centre for Environmental Policy is home to many experts with a huge amount of experience working with policy makers and industry partners, helping develop new ideas for meaningful change.

Plus, Imperials Transition to Zero Pollution Initiative will build new partnerships between research, industry and government – from fundamental science and engineering, systems thinking, human health, new business models, and policymaking – to realise our vision of a sustainable zero pollution future.

Net-zero emissions economic recovery

Economic growth will be a high priority for all countries in the months and years following COVID-19. The transition to net zero emissions can significantly contribute to the recovery.

COVID-19 and climate change

A special MSc Climate Change, Management and Finance lecture on how COVID-19 will affect action on climate change delivered by Imperial Business School and the Grantham Institute.

Greener vehicles

The Government wants every car and van to zero emissions by 2040. Lithium ion batteries are currently the most mature technology capable of meeting these targets, but there are alternatives on the horizon. Galvanic Energy can explain the limitations of current technologies or the risks associated with future ones.

Find out how Imperial can help you with your specific needs be they immediate or a longer term goal.

Gamification of tree planting

Provide incentives and gamification for forestry projects through the Treemendo app, empowering engagement with nature and improving the environment.

Removing plastic from the food chain

Notpla, which creates packaging from sustainable seaweed and plant products, can produce edible packaging and bottles, as used at the London Marathon.

Creating reusable materials from discarded shells

Shellworks, recently awarded the top prize at the coveted Venture Catalyst Challenge Final, turns discarded shells from the food industry into reusable cutlery and products to reduce the need for plastic in the packaging pipeline.

Costs of cloud computing

IT services are increasingly outsourced to huge data centres, but it is not clear what greenhouse gas emissions they are responsible for. Progress is being made to reduce emissions, but more transparency is needed in accounting for emissions.

Phase II of the Rapid Foresight Survey

Aims to capture the pulse of the global community on the types of actions and technologies which could help to build back towards a more equitable, sustainable and resilient world.

Trees tackle climate change

What are the benefits – and limits – of using trees to tackle climate change? Is tree planting a silver bullet solution? Environmental, economic and societal benefits of using trees to reduce carbon dioxide discussed.

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