Sustainable World

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"In preparing to manage the severe risks of climate change, the world needs the very best researchers to work on the crucial challenges. RCUK is generating first-rate and innovative research which will provide vital guidance for both policy and society's response."

Lord Stern of Brentford

Environment: UK research discovered the hole in the ozone layer, crucial evidence for a ban on CFCs and subsequent reparation of the ozone hole, with an estimated benefit to the UK economy of up to £42 million.

Afghanistan mining advice: The British Geological Survey, working with DFID, has helped to map copper deposits worth about £30 billion, thus enabling the Afghan government to take advantage of natural resources where mining is one of the best prospects for economic development, in turn supporting UK government security policy.

Energy spin offs: Ceres Power was formed from Imperial College in 2001 after ten years of RCUK funded research on materials and devices, and is now an AIM listed company employing 70 staff, working with British Gas to develop a fuel cell microchip product for the UK market.

Climate change – challenges and solutions: Researchers were at the forefront of establishing that global warming is caused by human activity. Recent scientific efforts have included contributing evidence for the Stern Review and the 2009 Copenhagen Summit.

Lighting: New LED technology will cut carbon emissions by 23 million tonnes and slash household lighting bills by 25 per cent.

Security Screening: RCUK engineers have helped to design and build a security scanner that can detect liquids and is now being trialled at Manchester Airport.

Innovative environmentally friendly products: From an initial investment of £160k into sustainable art and design, the successful commercialisation of award winning innovative products using recycled glass now has an estimated commercial value of £3-4 million.

Predicting behaviour: Policy responses to climate change, such as raising energy prices in line with energy efficiency improvements, have been informed by research highlighting a ‘rebound effect’. Consumer savings due to fuel efficiency may be spent on things which contribute to climate change, such as buying a fuel efficient car but driving further.

Flooding: Research informs the operation of the Thames barrier which protects London from flooding, protection valued at £30 billion.

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