Our research supports a more sustainable planet by creating a shared understanding, identifying opportunities, and bringing people together.
With the global population thriving, the human race is producing more waste than ever. For example, most municipal solid waste generated globally is concentrated in low-income countries, and around 90% of this waste is disposed of in hazardous, unregulated dumps or openly burned. These poor waste management practices heavily pollute the air, water, and soil in nearby vulnerable communities and ecosystems. In high-income countries, a substantial portion of municipal solid waste is diverted into landfills, which are expensive and highly engineered but can be sources of emerging contaminants. Globally, both management practices exhibit lost economic opportunities, as valuable energy and resources are wasted, meaning, there is an opportunity to improve the sustainability of municipal solid waste management worldwide.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has exploded at the forefront of the public's attention in recent years, with disruptive technologies such as ChatGPT having the potential to change the way we interact with the world.
The space industry is booming. With three rovers currently exploring Mars and a manned mission to the moon planned for 2025, the universe is at our fingertips.
International environmental agreements are an important framework for countries to make a commitment to sustainability and bring pressing issues to the forefront of public attention. However, the targets and agreements made at international conferences such as COP27 often fail to meet expectations in the long-term as individual governments or nations renege on their commitments.
The climate crisis is still accelerating. In 2023 global greenhouse gas emissions remain at record-high levels. Back in 2021 at COP26, the UK’s chief scientist said “changes in behaviour are needed to tackle the climate crisis”, but how do we connect hearts and minds to bring this behaviour change about?
Electric cars are set to dominate the market by 2035. Decarbonising transport will be a big step to meeting global climate targets and the UK has proposed a ban on the sale of new petrol vehicles by 2030 to help the transition to electric cars. Consumers are keen to make ethical choices and the improvements in electric vehicle (EV) performance have already seen many make the switch: electric cars accounted for 14% of global sales last year and this figure is projected to rise to 18% by the end of 2023.
In the face of the ever-pressing global challenge of climate change, the need for innovative and collaborative solutions has never been more urgent. The 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report underscores the significance of incorporating the perspectives of youth, indigenous knowledge, gender equity, local wisdom, and urban-rural dynamics in the pursuit of effective climate change adaptation.
We may consume less than we used to, but meat remains an important British staple: the average Briton eats a significant 84.2kg every year – almost double the global average! Increasing awareness of the problems associated with this high consumption is leading many to consider healthier and more sustainable alternatives, so it's no surprise that recent advances in lab-grown meat have caught the public’s interest. This exciting field is still in its infancy but already Open University researchers are seeing potential far beyond a simple ethical meat substitute.
In our digital age of movie and television consumption, the language we use to talk about engaging with moving images has transformed. We ‘stream’ shows. Images are projected onto ‘green’ screens. Many of us who use computers – filmmakers, broadcasters, and audiences alike – store files on the ‘cloud.’ With digital’s organically coded vocabulary evoking water and air, the harmful mass production of analogue technologies, such as plastic film strips and DVDS, might seem like a relic from the past.
The Open University is giving over part of its Milton Keynes campus to an ecosystem regeneration project to address the sustainability challenges facing our society by capturing carbon from the atmosphere and boosting biodiversity.
The Amazon rainforest plays a vital role in sustaining life on Earth. Estimates suggest its rich biodiversity stores the equivalent of 10 years of global fossil fuel emissions. But deforestation, illegal mining and climate change threaten its existence and the lives of the 30 million people who call it home. OU researchers are supporting Indigenous communities fighting these sustainability challenges.
Research scientists in The Open University’s School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences helped shape the content and direction of the landmark BBC series Blue Planet II, which prompted unprecedented public and government action to protect our oceans.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have a vital role in our efforts to tackle the Climate Emergency. Their combined environmental impact is more significant than the big corporations, but they are much more varied, less well-resourced and often harder to reach. So how can governments, and other agencies, ensure that such a large and diverse population of organisations can become more sustainable? Professor Richard Blundel and his colleagues have drawn on cross-disciplinary research insights to create new tools and techniques that will enable SMEs to ‘grow greener’.
How can understanding the secrets of the universe help make submarines safer, ensure Scotch Whisky's provenance and 'sniff out' new fragrances? Dr Geraint Morgan explains all.
Dr David Hall discusses The Open University Centre's for Electronic Imaging’s pioneering work on technologies that allow us to explore even the darkest corners of the cosmos and are making the UK a leader in space research.
Professor David Gowing and colleagues are using their research to unlock the potential of an ancient nature-based agricultural solution to tackle today’s sustainability challenges.