Supporting Universities UK's Climate Action campaign

Olivia Miller
Picture by Pixabay

From Thursday 28 April, Kent is supporting Universities UK’s Climate Action campaign, which brings to life the impact that universities are having on people and communities in relation to climate change and sustainability.

To celebrate the ways in which Kent staff are contributing to the fight against climate change, we’ve highlighted some of our research and initiatives:

  1. Our Kent Sustainability Strategy

Following our Sustainability Strategy launch in October 2021, we have been working towards achieving our objectives as well as building sustainability into governance structures. Visit our Sustainability Round-up webpage to find out about some of our successes.

  1. Using psychological interventions to tackle air pollution locally

Professor Dominic AbramsDr Tim Hopthrow and Dr Fanny Lalot from the School of Psychology discovered through their research that using low-cost psychological interventions such as carefully worded road signage can reduce vehicle engine idling and in turn improve air quality.

  1. Determining hydrogen demand in the South East

Back in 2021 Simon Barnes, Funding and Partnership Development Manager of Research and Innovation Services (RIS) Operations, wrote a report to explain the future of Hydrogen demand in the South East. This was later accepted as Written Evidence by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. Colleagues from Kent Business School are now working on the demand conundrum and system planners examining how to develop carbon infrastructure quickly and safely to satisfy demand. Meanwhile, the School of Physical Sciences is looking into the storage challenge and the School of Engineering is researching carbon storage.

  1. Growing Kent and Medway

We’re part of the innovative Growing Kent and Medway project which is led by horticultural and agricultural research institution, NIAB EMR (National Institute of Agricultural Botany East Malling Research Station). This project is working to strengthen the competitiveness of Britain’s horticulture, food and drink industries.

Through this initiative Kent has launched the Biotechnology Hub for Sustainable Food and Drink. The hub is run by some of the leading experts in plant biology, post-harvest and packaging and will support horticultural and plant-based food and drink businesses to solve a wide range of challenges. Kent Business School is also providing mentoring for local businesses.

In the first round of funding from Growing Kent and Medway, Dr Robert Barker (Department of Chemistry and Forensic Science) and Dr Anastasios Tsaousis (School of Biosciences) have secured a grant to work with Re-generation Earth on a project to use biochar from farm waste to lock carbon into soils, thanks to over £420,000 funding.

  1. Exploring climate change’s effect on species across the world

Researchers in the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) are committed to high-quality, practical, applied conservation research, from illegal wildlife trade to human-wildlife co-existence and endangered species management. Climate change has a huge impact on how biodiversity can survive and is the centre of many projects at DICE.

An example of this is an international research project involving Professor Jim Groombridge and colleagues from the Natural History Museum and University College London (UCL) which has found evidence of tropical frogs adapting to warming temperatures.

  1. Net Zero Pathway for Change project

Knowledge Exchange and Innovation (KEI) is helping Kent’s SMEs take steps towards tackling climate change by providing businesses with free access to carbon reduction advisers and workshops. With access to academics, student workshops and grant funding, the University is playing a significant role in helping SMEs develop new products, processes and technology that will support the long term needs of our climate.

  1. Improving plastic recycling quality

Dr Lijuan Wang, with Professor Yong Yan from the School of Engineering and Simon Barnes, have been working together on a project to increase the effectiveness of plastic recycling. The team have used a combination of advanced spectrum imaging and machine learning algorithms to accurately identify the type of plastic and other materials in a bale of plastic recycling.

  1. Modelling ecological data

The Statistical Ecology Group (SE@K), based within the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science, has developed statistical methodology for modelling ecological data to describe, understand, anticipate and quantify the effect that environmental changes have had on wildlife populations. The Group’s modelling frameworks have helped to determine population trends in UK butterflies, bumblebees, moths and more.

  1. Kent Community Oasis Garden

Our Kent Community Oasis Garden (KentCOG) is a collective of students, staff and community members who work to create a sustainability hub centred around growing food. Run in collaboration with East Kent Mind, KentCOG runs Ecotherapy sessions (a formal type of therapeutic treatment which involves doing outdoor activities in nature), sustainability walks and talks, butterfly counts and more.

  1. Cities adapting to climate change

Research by Dr Jonathan Rock Rokem (School of Anthropology and Conservation) has informed public policy decision-making and contributed to novel spatial and social approaches in the development of public transport infrastructures and climate adaption and mitigation strategies in Europe and the Middle East. His latest expert comment digs into how record high temperatures caused devastation in Canada and North-West USA.

Kent Community Oasis Garden is now open

Kent Community Oasis Garden