Tyndall Talks is the Tyndall Centre's series of podcasts where we untangle the questions and discussions on climate science and climate policy.
How can we reduce shipping emissions?
Our episode today is about shipping and its impact on climate change. In today’s episode, we will talk about some of the work by colleagues from the Tyndall Centre at Manchester University including the International Maritime Organisation's - the IMO’s in short - new shipping and climate strategy, technology like wind ships and electrification of ships, as well as the demand side of shipping.
International shipping emits around 700 million tonnes of CO2 a year, equivalent to emissions from Germany. So the sector is a major contributor to climate change.
The IMO is the United Nations specialised agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships. Last year, the IMO set out a new strategy that “includes an enhanced common ambition to reach net-zero GHG emissions from international shipping by or around, i.e. close to, 2050.” Is this new strategy enough? And what solutions are there?
Today we speak with Alice Larkin, Chris Jones, James Mason, and Simon Bullock from the University of Manchester – who all research shipping emissions.
Alice is a Professor of Climate Science and Energy Policy in Tyndall Manchester, where she has worked since 2003 on various aspects of decarbonising international aviation and later shipping.
Chris is the knowledge exchange fellow for Tyndall Manchester, connecting research expertise in the group to industry, government and civil society stakeholders.
James is a data scientist at Smart Green Shipping and visiting academic at Tyndall Manchester. He develops ship routing software that harnesses weather optimisation for ships using modern day sail technology.
Simon is a research associate at Tyndall Manchester, focussing on shipping and climate change.
Music by Ben Sound
What exactly is unabated emissions and do we really need a fossil fuel phase-out?
Our episode today is about one of the most controversial topics at COP28 – abated fossil fuels through carbon capture storage technology.
At COP28, COP president Sultan Al Jaber claimed there is no science behind fossil fuel phaseout. At a press conference, IPCC chair Jim Skea said that in 1.5C-compatible scenarios “by 2050, fossil fuel use is greatly reduced and unabated coal use is completely phased out.” He added that oil use by 2050 is reduced by 60% and gas by 45%. According to Jim Skea, Al Jaber was “attentive to the science” and “fully understood it”.
Understandably, this has caused some confusion about what abated/unabated fossil fuels. So, what is abated/unabated fossil fuel and what is the role of CCS and CDR in all of this? Our guests today are Harry Smith and Nem Vaughan.
Harry Smith is a PhD Researcher on the climate governance of carbon dioxide removal, and part of the Critical Decade for Climate Change Programme with the Leverhulme Trust at UEA.
Dr. Nem Vaughan is an Associate Professor of Climate Change whose research is focussed on carbon dioxide removal and its role in mitigating climate change.
Music by Ben Sound
Insulating Britain: How can UK's homes have better heating and cooling?
Our episode is about heating and cooling buildings – quite timely as we enter the colder winter months. According to the Climate Change Committee, 29 million homes need to be upgraded to low carbon systems by 2050. This is not an easy task. According to Parliament, UK houses are one of the oldest and worst insulated in all of Europe and data from the CCC says that heat decarbonisation in each home will cost £10,000 on average per household – posing a major challenge to reach targets. In addition, UK policy does not currently reflect the standards to which houses need to be built to reduce our carbon emissions or build resilience in housing stock for a changing climate. However, designing buildings which can adapt to lifestyles and the climate will be essential for future generational resilience to climate change within the UK and beyond. So, what can the UK do about this? We have our guest Claire Brown from the University of Manchester.
Claire’s research work focuses on addressing issues around heating and cooling demand in social housing in the UK. She is looking at how new-build social housing could be a potential way to reduce demand on the power grid through better design and exploring further opportunities for self-generation. She is also exploring how commercially viable solutions might exist to allow social housing to be built with high energy performance built-in. She previously worked in the construction industry as a Sustainability Manager, the public sector as an Energy manager and as a Senior Consultant.
Music: Ben Sound
Faith and climate action
Many faith leaders have signified their commitments to climate action. For example, Pope Francis of the Catholic Church penned the Laudato Si, critiquing consumerism and irresponsible development and calls on people for swift and unified global action. The pope has also committed to net zero by 2050. The Church of England has also committed to net zero by 2030. Their plan includes reducing emissions from Cathedrals, churches, dioceses, and schools.
Rowan Williamson, when he was the Archbishop of Canterbury, launched the second phase of the Tyndall Centre back in 2006, speaking to us about how climate change is a moral issue. According to World Vision, faith has great potential in addressing the climate emergency. According to Pew Research Center, 84% of the world’s population or 8/10 people identify with a religious group. This is an opportunity for religions to transform their communities in different ways to help in climate action. For this episode we have Chris Walsh from the University of Manchester and Rachel Sowerby from the Church of England to talk to us more about the role of faith/religion in climate action.
Chris has been at the Tyndall Centre in Manchester for 6 years working on a variety of projects, his work with churches began with the UK Climate Resilience Programme working as an embedded researcher in the Church of England Cathedrals and Church Buildings co-producing climate resilience guidance for churches across the country. He has also since worked with Salford Catholic diocese and the Guardians of Creation group to create a decarbonisation guide for places of worship. For him climate action is a key part of his faith, and a lot of his research interests and work stem from that.
Rachel is an affiliate researcher with the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research as part of her role as the Bishop's Environmental Research Officer for the Bishop of Norwich Graham Usher. Bishop Graham is the lead Bishop for the environment for the Church of England. Rachel holds an MSc in Environmental Science from the University of East Anglia. Her areas of interest include behaviour change, carbon reduction and fuel poverty. She currently aids the environmental work of the Church including the pathway to Net Zero, biodiversity (particularly on Church land) and engaging with the wider public on climate related issues.
Music by BenSound
How can biomass energy help us reach net zero?
Our episode is about biomass and why it is key for achieving net zero. Simply put, biomass energy is renewable energy that comes from plants and animals. Some biomass energy sources include crops like corn, soy beans, and sugar cane. According to the UK Parliament, bioenergy is currently the second largest source of renewable energy in the UK, generating 12.9% of the total UK electricity supply in 2021. How can biomass energy help us reach net zero and what about concerns about deforestation and land use?
Our guest for this episode is Andrew Welfle of the Tyndall Centre at the University of Manchester. Dr. Andrew Welfle is a Senior Research Fellow in the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research within the Department of Engineering for Sustainability. Andrew has a background and interests in environmental, energy and engineering themes, and a strong track record undertaking sustainability, climate change and bioenergy research through developing modelling toolkits and analysis methodologies.
Andrew is a Topic Representative within the current UK Supergen Bioenergy Hub research programme where he works with academics, NGOs, industry and government to promote the growth of a sustainable UK bioenergy sector. Andrew is also the Challenge Lead for Net Zero, part of the University of Manchester’s Sustainable Futures Network. This role brings responsibility for co-ordinating researchers and research activity relevant to net-zero emissions objectives across the University of Manchester.
Music by BenSound
Citizen engagement in climate governance
Our episode today is about citizen engagement in climate governance. More specifically, we will talk about climate assemblies, where representatives of the public come together and discuss issues. Citizen assemblies in the climate sphere are becoming more popular, especially in the UK and Europe. But how do they work and why are they important in the context of the climate crisis? Can we all join a citizen assembly?
Our guest is Stephen Elstub of the Tyndall Centre at Newcastle University. Stephen joined the Department of Politics at Newcastle University in 2015 and is currently the Director of Research. His main research interests are in the theory and practice of democracy, democratic innovation, public opinion, political communication, civil society and citizen participation, all viewed through the lens of deliberative democracy. He has been involved in research on Climate Assembly UK, Scotland’s Climate Assembly, and the Global Assembly on the Climate and Ecological Crisis.
Music by BenSound