Climate crisis combatted by new University of Bath institute

The University of Bath aims to tackle the climate crisis and global sustainability issues by launching the new Institute for Sustainability (IfS).

Officially launched on 17 January by Pam Chesters CBE, the Chair of Council at the University of Bath, the IfS will amalgamate multidisciplinary expertise to combat the most pertinent issues that are exacerbating the climate crisis and sustainability worldwide.

The IfS will be spearheaded by Professors Matthew Davidson and Marcelle McManus – two leading sustainability academics who will collaborate with industry partners to apply its methods to create sustainable products and use findings to inform policy, legislation, and industrial practice.

The Institute is decades in the making

The IfS builds on the Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies (CSCT) established in 2008 to cultivate the next generation of chemists and chemical engineers in sustainable chemical technologies, building research collaborations with industry to pioneer a circular economy to achieve net zero.

Professor Davidson commented: “We’re very excited to continue building on the research successes of the CSCT by establishing the new Institute. The IfS will bring together a unique range of technical expertise in fundamental and applied research in sustainability, taking a whole systems approach.”

Professor McManus added: “The new Institute will apply interdisciplinarity across all University’s activities – education and training, fundamental and applied research, international collaboration, policy, public engagement and knowledge exchange activities. We look forward to working to create and provide solutions to some of these global challenges.”

How will the IfS challenge the climate crisis?

The Institute will be focused on two main themes to combat the climate crisis: Sustainable Chemical Technologies and Sustainable Systems.

Sustainable Chemical Technologies will employ chemistry and chemical engineering to design molecules, materials, and manufacturing processes to advance a circular economy in which products and materials are reused or recycled instead of discarded.

This aspect will develop renewable alternatives to petrochemicals used in fuels, materials, and chemicals, in addition to high-performance materials that can be recycled or degraded at their end of life.

Sustainable Systems takes an entirely different approach to tackle the climate crisis that involves examining the full environmental impact of different products and activities. This will enable scientists to identify the most optimal sustainable choices and avoid burden shifting or greenwashing, in which one type of environmental impact is reduced but another increased.

Professor Ian White, the Vice-Chancellor and President of the University, concluded: “Establishing the new Institute for Sustainability at the University of Bath comes at a crucial moment in the global climate emergency. Building on the CSCT’s strong foundations, the Institute will be able to increase the reach and capacity of this vital work, using an interdisciplinary whole systems approach to help to drive the change needed to tackle the climate crisis.”

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