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Academic papers and reports

Below is a sample of academic published material relating to climate change and COP21. If you would like to see your publication listed, please contact Jennifer Hazelton


Clean up Energy Innovation

Published: 5th October 2016, Nature News and Comment

Authors: Lucien Georgesen, Mark Maslin (UCL) and Martyn Poessinouw

The Paris climate agreement to keep global average temperature rise below 2 °C requires the world to switch rapidly to low-carbon energy. Global carbon emissions must peak by 2020, fall to zero between 2060 and 2080 and become negative by 2100. The effort and investment needed would be immense, but it could happen: in 1800, the British government spent one-quarter of its per capita expenditure on becoming the world’s major naval power; the US Inter- state Highway System cost US$560 billion (in 2007 dollars) over 37 years of construction. Clearly, a huge global commitment to clean-energy research and development (R&D) is needed. Two global partnerships were proposed in 2015 to push governments to make the massive investments required: Mission Innovation and the Global Apollo Programme.


Intensive rainfall recharges tropical groundwaters

Published: 11 December 2015, Environmental Research Letters

Authors: Scott Jasechko and Richard G Taylor (UCL)

The results in this paper suggest that the intensification of precipitation brought about by global warming favours groundwater replenishment in the tropics. Nevertheless, the processes that transmit intensive rainfall to groundwater systems and enhance the resilience of tropical groundwater storage in a warming world, remain unclear.


Potential for Climate Action

Published: 8 December 2015, C40 and ARUP

Authors: include Michele Acuto, Elizabeth Rapoport, Jyotsna Ram, Katrien Steenmans and Huey Yee Yoong (UCL)

In a world first, this study quantifies the huge potential for expanding urban climate action, and presents the views of cities and city experts on what the challenges are in doing so. The study culminates in a firm call for cross sector collaboration to find the solutions to remove these challenges and unlock city potential. This will form the basis of a second report, to follow in 2016. 

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Energy Access and Urban Poverty

Published: 2015, Practical Action

Authors: Vanesa Castan Broto (UCL), Lucy Stevens and Diana Salazar (UCL)

The great majority of people without access to modern energy services are rural and, rightly, much of the discussion on energy access focuses on how to reach them. However, despite their greater geographical proximity to grid electricity and other supplies of clean energy, people living in poverty in urban areas also lack energy access. The World Bank’s own trials of the Global Tracking Framework demonstrated this for Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. We need a greater understanding of how people access energy in these contexts, and what the barriers and opportunities are for improving that access. This paper explores these questions in the context of an in-depth study of the Chamanculo C settlement in Maputo, Mozambique.


Climate Action in Megacities 3.0

Published: December 2015, C40 and ARUP

Authors: Include Michele Acuto, Elizabeth Rapoport and Laura Hill (UCL)

Climate Action in Megacities 3.0 (CAM 3.0) presents major new insights into the current status, latest trends and future potential for climate action at the city level. Documenting the volume of action being taken by cities, CAM 3.0 marks a new chapter in the C40-Arup research partnership, supported by the City Leadership Initiative at University College London. It provides compelling evidence about cities’ commitment to tackling climate change and their critical role in the  ght to achieve global emissions reductions.

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Participatory Planning for Climate Compatible Development in Maputo, Mozambique

Published: November 2015

Authors: Edited by Vanesa Castán Broto (UCL); Jonathan Ensor; Emily Boyd; Charlotte Allen; Carlos Seventine; Domingos Augusto Macucule

Participatory Planning for Climate Compatible Development in Maputo, Mozambique is a practitioners’ handbook that builds upon the experience of a pilot project that was awarded the United Nations ‘Lighthouse Activity’ Award.

Building upon a long scholarly tradition of participatory planning, this dual-language (English/Portuguese) book addresses crucial questions about the relevance of citizen participation in planning for climate compatible development and argues that citizens have knowledge and access to resources that enable them to develop a sustainable vision for their community. In order to do so, the author proposes a Participatory Action Planning methodology to organise communities, and also advances mechanisms for institutional development through partnerships.

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Separating sensitivity from exposure in assessing extinction risk from climate change

Published: 24 November 2015, NATURE SCIENTIFIC REPORTS

Authors: Maria G. Dickinson, C. David L. Orme, K. Blake Suttle & Georgina M. Mace (UCL)

Predictive frameworks of climate change extinction risk generally focus on the magnitude of climate change a species is expected to experience and the potential for that species to track suitable climate. A species' risk of extinction from climate change will depend, in part, on the magnitude of climate change the species experiences, its exposure. However, exposure is only one component of risk. A species' risk of extinction will also depend on its intrinsic ability to tolerate changing climate, its sensitivity. We examine exposure and sensitivity individually for two example taxa, terrestrial amphibians and mammals. We examine how these factors are related among species and across regions and how explicit consideration of each component of risk may affect predictions of climate change impacts. We find that species' sensitivities to climate change are not congruent with their exposures. Many highly sensitive species face low exposure to climate change and many highly exposed species are relatively insensitive. Separating sensitivity from exposure reveals patterns in the causes and drivers of species' extinction risk that may not be evident solely from predictions of climate change. Our findings emphasise the importance of explicitly including sensitivity and exposure to climate change in assessments of species' extinction risk.

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Climate change, conflict and health

Published: October 2015, JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF MEDICINE

Authors: Bowles, DC; Butler, CD; Morisetti, N (UCL)

The public is more motivated to mitigate climate change when it is framed as a health issue. Improved medical understanding of the association between climate change and conflict could strengthen mitigation efforts and increase cooperation to cope with the climate change that is now inevitable.

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Pathways to Deep Decarbonisation

Published: September 2015, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SOLUTIONS NETWORK & THE INSTITUTE FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT & INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Authors: Many, including Steve Pye and Gabrial Anandarajah (both UCL)

This Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) synthesis report, details analysis by the 16 largest emitting countries, accounting for approximately 75% of global emissions. The report shows that the transition pathways proposed to 2050, which crucially take account of national circumstances, can deliver CO2 reductions 48-57% below 2010 levels. This can be done through strong efforts to improve the efficiency of energy use, decarbonisation of the energy supply e.g. low carbon electricity and fuel switching to low carbon fuels.

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Shaping Expectations to Foster the Low Carbon Transition: Can COP21 be a catalyst for action? 

Published: September 2015, INSIGHT_E

Authors: Carole Mathieu, Rafaela Hillerbrand, Steve Pye (UCL)

This HET report explores the debate on how COP21 could shape expectations of a global shift towards decarbonisation and thus boost low carbon investments

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New leadership for a user-friendly IPCC

Published: 24 September 2015, NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE | COMMENTARY

Authors: Arthur Petersen, Jason Blackstock and Neil Morisetti (all UCL)

The information needs of decision-makers and practitioners around the world are varied and increasingly urgent. Yet, as these needs have expanded, there has been a widening gap between what most IPCC authors understand to be useful information and what decision-makers see as informative.

While the IPCC is not (and will never be) able to satisfy all information needs, there are ways to enhance the relevance of its processes, and enable scientifically credible actors to deliver user-focused scientific assessments on climate change. Here, we outline a number of ways the new IPCC leadership, elected in October 2015, can help the organization become more relevant.

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Health and climate change: policy responses to protect public health

Published: June 23, 2015, THE LANCET

Authors: Nick Watts, W Neil Adger, Paolo Agnolucci, Jason Blackstock, Peter Byass, Wenjia Cai, Sarah Chaytor, Tim Colbourn, Mat Collins, Adam Cooper, Peter M Cox, Joanna Depledge, Paul Drummond, Paul Ekins, Victor Galaz, Delia Grace, Hilary Graham, Michael Grubb, Andy Haines, Ian Hamilton, Alasdair Hunter, Xujia Jiang, Moxuan Li, Ilan Kelman, Lu Liang, Melissa Lott, Robert Lowe, Yong Luo, Georgina Mace, Mark Maslin, Maria Nilsson, Tadj Oreszczyn, Steve Pye, Tara Quinn, My Svensdotter, Sergey Venevsky, Koko Warner, Bing Xu, Jun Yang, Yongyuan Yin, Chaoqing Yu, Qiang Zhang, Peng Gong, Hugh Montgomery, Anthony Costello (all UCL)

The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change maps out the impacts of climate change, and the necessary policy responses, to ensure the highest attainable standards of health for populations worldwide. This Commission is multidisciplinary and international, with strong collaboration between academic centres in Europe and China. The central finding from the Commission is that tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.

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Climate Change and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction

Published: 12 June 2015, INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF DISASTER RISK SCIENCE

Author: Ilan Kelman (UCL)

This article reviews climate change within the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 (SFDRR), analyzing how climate change is mentioned in the framework’s text and the potential implications for dealing with climate change within the context of disaster risk reduction. Three main categories are examined. First, climate change affecting disaster risk and disasters, demonstrating too much emphasis on the single hazard driver and diminisher of climate change. Second, cross-sectoral approaches, for which the SFDRR treads carefully, thereby unfortunately entrenching artificial differences and divisions, although appropriately offering plenty of support to other sectors from disaster risk reduction. Third, implementation, for which climate change plays a suitable role without being overbearing, but for which other hazard influencers should have been treated similarly. Overall, the mentions of climate change within the SFDRR put too much emphasis on the hazard part of disaster risk. Instead, within the context of the three global sustainable development processes that seek agreements in 2015, climate change could have been used to further support an all-vulnerabilities and all-resiliences approach. That could be achieved by placing climate change adaptation as one subset within disaster risk reduction and climate change mitigation as one subset within sustainable development.

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From Lima to Paris, Part 2: Injecting Ambition

Published: 11 June 2015, CLIMATE POLICY

Authors: Michael Grubb, UCL, Heleen de Coninck & Ambuj D. Sagar

In a fractured world, transformation can only come from a plurilateral effort of those genuinely committed to it – in essence, a ‘club of ambition’ comprising a subset of the most committed, whatever their stage of development.

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Powering Climate Action: Cities as Global Changemakers

Published: June 2015, C40 Cities and ARUP

Authors: include Michele Acuto, Elizabeth Rapport, Jyotsna Ram and Laura Hill (UCL)

The fight against climate change will be won or lost in cities. Powering Climate Action explores the powers that cities hold over urban assets and functions, which may help them to implement climate actions. The report highlights the types of urban climate governance that prevail in cities, and presents a pathway to city-led climate action that takes into account political context, governance structure and potential delivery routes and partners.

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Negotiating failure: understanding the geopolitics of climate change

Published: 14 May 2015, THE GEOGRAPHICAL JOURNAL

Authors: Adam Byrne and Mark Maslin (both UCL)

A review essay on the past success and failure of the COP negotiations.

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Participatory urban planning for climate change adaptation in coastal cities: lessons from a pilot experience in Maputo, Mozambique

Published: April 2015, CURRENT OPINION IN ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

Authors: Vanesa Castán Broto (UCL), , Emily Boyd, Jonathan Ensor

This paper proposes a rights-based approach for participatory urban planning for climate change adaptation in urban areas. Participatory urban planning ties climate change adaptation to local development opportunities. Previous discussions suggest that participatory urban planning may help to understand structural inequalities, to gain, even if temporally, institutional support and to deliver a planning process in constant negotiation with local actors. Building upon an action research project which implemented a process of participatory urban planning for climate change in Maputo, Mozambique, this paper reflects upon the practical lessons that emerged from these experiences, in relation to the incorporation of climate change information, the difficulties to secure continued support from local governments and the opportunities for local impacts through the implementation of the proposals emerging from this process.

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Climate Change’s Role in Disaster Risk Reduction’s Future: Beyond Vulnerability and Resilience

Published: 5 March 2015, INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF DISASTER RISK SCIENCE

Authors: Ilan Kelman (UCL), J C Gaillard, Jessica Mercer 

A seminal policy year for development and sustainability occurs in 2015 due to three parallel processes that seek long-term agreements for climate change, the Sustainable Development Goals, and disaster risk reduction. Little reason exists to separate them, since all three examine and aim to deal with many similar processes, including vulnerability and resilience. This article uses vulnerability and resilience to explore the intersections and overlaps amongst climate change, disaster risk reduction, and sustainability. Critiquing concepts such as “return to normal” and “double exposure” demonstrate how separating climate change from wider contexts is counterproductive. Climate change is one contributor to disaster risk and one creeping environmental change amongst many, and not necessarily the most prominent or fundamental contributor. Yet climate change has become politically important, yielding an opportunity to highlight and tackle the deep-rooted vulnerability processes that cause “multiple exposure” to multiple threats. To enhance resilience processes that deal with the challenges, a prudent place for climate change would be as a subset within disaster risk reduction. Climate change adaptation therefore becomes one of many processes within disaster risk reduction. In turn, disaster risk reduction should sit within development and sustainability to avoid isolation from topics wider than disaster risk. Integration of the topics in this way moves beyond expressions of vulnerability and resilience towards a vision of disaster risk reduction’s future that ends tribalism and separation in order to work together to achieve common goals for humanity.

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Is climate change the greatest threat to global health?

Published: Dec 2014, THE GEOGRAPHICAL JOURNAL

Authors: Andrew Papworth, Mark Maslin and Samuel Randalls (all UCL)

This paper unpicks the discussion of what is the major threat to global health.  The authors suggest that in the short term it is poverty but in the medium to long term, if nothing is done about emissions, it will be climate change.

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Planetary Economics: Energy, Climate Change and the Three Domains of Sustainable Development

Published: April 2014, Routledge

Author: Michael Grubb, UCL

How well do our assumptions about the global challenges of energy, environment and economic development fit the facts? Energy prices have varied hugely between countries and over time, yet the share of national income spent on energy has remained surprisingly constant. The foundational theories of economic growth account for only about half the growth observed in practice. Despite escalating warnings for more than two decades about the planetary risks of rising greenhouse gas emissions, most governments have seemed powerless to change course. Planetary Economics shows the surprising links between these seemingly unconnected facts. It argues that tackling the energy and environmental problems of the 21st Century requires three different domains of decision-making to be recognised and connected. Each domain involves different theoretical foundations, draws on different areas of evidence, and implies different policies. The book shows that the transformation of energy systems involves all three domains - and each is equally important. From them flow three pillars of policy – three quite distinct kinds of actions that need to be taken, which rest on fundamentally different principles. Any pillar on its own will fail. Only by understanding all three, and fitting them together, do we have any hope of changing course. And if we do, the oft-assumed conflict between economy and the environment dissolves – with potential for benefits to both. Planetary Economics charts how.

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Third IMO Greenhouse Gas Report 2014: Safe, Secure and Efficient Fishing on Clean Oceans

Authors: International Maritime Organisation (led by Tristan Smith, UCL)

This study of greenhouse gas emissions from ships (the third IMO GHG Study 2014) was commissioned as an update of the international maritime organisation’s (IMO) Second IMO GHG Study 2009. the updated study has been prepared on behalf of IMO by an international consortium led by the University College london (UCL) Energy Institute.

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Un-burnable oil: An examination of oil resource utilisation in a decarbonised energy system

Published: January 2014, ENERGY POLICY

Authors: Christophe McGlade, Paul Ekins (both UCL)

This paper examines the volumes of oil that can and cannot be used up to 2035 during the transition to a low-carbon global energy system using the global energy systems model, TIAM-UCL and the ‘Bottom up Economic and Geological Oil field production model’ (BUEGO). Globally in a scenario allowing the widespread adoption of carbon capture and storage (CCS) nearly 500 billion barrels of existing 2P oil reserves must remain unused by 2035. In a scenario where CCS is unavailable this increases to around 600 billion barrels. Besides reserves, arctic oil and light tight oil play only minor roles in a scenario with CCS and essentially no role when CCS is not available. On a global scale, 40% of those resources yet to be found in deepwater regions must remain undeveloped, rising to 55% if CCS cannot be deployed. The widespread development of unconventional oil resources is also shown to be incompatible with a decarbonised energy system even with a total and rapid decarbonisation of energetic inputs. The work thus demonstrates the extent to which current energy policies encouraging the unabated exploration for, and exploitation of, all oil resources are incommensurate with the achievement of a low-carbon energy system.

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Towards a low-carbon economy: scenarios and policies for the UK

Published: July 2011, CLIMATE POLICY

Authors: Paul Ekins, Gabrial Anandarajah & Neil Strachan (all UCL)

This article analyses the implications of long-term low-carbon scenarios for the UK, and against these it assesses both the current status and the required scope of the UK energy policy. The scenarios are generated using the well-established MARKAL (acronym for MARKet ALlocation) UK energy systems model, which has already been extensively used for UK policy analysis and support. The scenarios incorporate different levels of ambition for carbon reduction, ranging from 40% to 90% cuts from 1990's level by the year 2050, to shed insights into the options for achieving the UK's current legally binding target of an 80% cut by the same date. The scenarios achieve their carbon reductions through very different combinations of demand reduction (implying behaviour change) and implementation of low-carbon and energy efficiency technologies on both the supply and demand sides. In all cases, however, the costs of achieving the reductions are relatively modest. The ensuing policy analysis suggests that while the cuts are feasible both technically and economically and while a number of new policies have been introduced in order to achieve them, it is not yet clear whether these policies will deliver the required combination of both short- and long-term technology deployment, and behaviour change for the UK Government's targets to be achieved.

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