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Research activity

ECCI is a physical and virtual hub for climate change research, skills, knowledge exchange and innovation.

We collaborate with governments, business and academics to help facilitate interdisciplinary interactions across natural and social sciences, guiding research and its translation to promote a just and resilient transition to the post-carbon world.

We harness academic staff expertise from across the University of Edinburgh and beyond, influencing and shaping its development towards impact.

Our team members play key roles in initiatives like Place-Based Climate Action Network (PCAN), the Edinburgh Earth and Environment Doctoral Training Partnership and SAGES (the Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society).

We’re also the base for and jointly manage ClimateXChange, Scotland's centre of expertise on climate change and the Sustainable Scotland Network (SSN), Scotland’s largest network of public sector sustainability professionals.

Recent research activity

Journal Publications

The COVID-19 emergency has several parallels to the climate emergency. They both represent major systemic risks to human welfare and prosperity, requiring high-quality expert advice to play a key role in shaping the response. In both instances, preparation and cooperation are vital to success. This background paper provides greater detail behind the proposals in a COP26 Universities Network Briefing for UK BEIS. By ECCI Executive Director, Prof David Reay, Jennifer Allan, Charles Donovan, Paul Ekins, Ajay Gambhir, Cameron Hepburn, Nick Robins, Emily Shuckburgh and Dimitri Zenghelis.

Land use is a crucial sector in delivering enhanced carbon sequestration globally. At the same time food production is a major source of global greenhouse gas emissions. As pressure mounts for all nations to increase their levels of ambition under the Paris Climate Agreement, so the pressure to radically reduce emissions from the agriculture sector and enhance carbon sequestration in the land use sector also ramps up. Here Prof Reay examines some of the major risks, applicable safeguards, and potential pathways for agriculture and land use in realizing net zero. By ECCI Executive Director, Prof Dave Reay.


  • An overview of the Scottish Climate Change Plan update (February 2021)

In this blog Jonathan Bowes, ClimateXChange Research Fellow, gives an overview of the Scottish Climate Change Plan update, for those who missed it. The update presents a path to meet Scotland’s climate change targets to 2032 and beyond. The Climate Change Committee (CCC) 6th Carbon Budget is referenced to offer comparison to a similar UK wide document.

  • New Climate Projections Summary for Scotland (January 2021)

Adaptation Scotland has published a new climate projections summary, providing an overview for Scotland of the most up to date UK Met Office Climate Projections. The document has been produced in partnership with the Met Office, Scottish Government, SEPA, Nature Scot, Historic Environment Scotland, Our Dynamic Coast and ClimateXChange.

  • Principles for a Scottish Green Recovery (September 2020)

This blog sets out the key points from CXC policy director Professor Dave Reay’s response to the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee called for views on the principles that should underpin a green recovery, including key actions for change, immediate priorities, potential barriers to implementation and the governance arrangements needed to deliver this.

  • How is Scotland progressing towards net-zero? (July 2020)

The annual emissions statistics for Scotland tells us how we are doing on our way to net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emission by 2045 compared to the 1990 baseline. As with many complex and detailed statistics there is a time-lag; the estimates published by the Scottish Government in summer 2020 captures our emissions 1990-2018. In this blog CXC Policy Director Dave Reay and Programme Manager Dan Barlow look at the implications for climate change policy.

  • Bravo Net Zero? (July 2020)

Confused by the term ‘net zero’? In this blog ECCI Director and CXC Policy Director Dave Reay looks at what it means, and why the concept is central in our climate change efforts. In Scotland we have a net zero target of 2045, with the UK-wide target being 2050.

With mounting pressure on pedestrian infrastructure in cities, this blog explores some of the ways in which citizens and governments are making space for people in towns and cities and question what this means for the future of urban travel. By Alice Creasy, Network Analyst with the Place-Based Climate Action Network (PCAN).

A question long pondered by urban theorists - ownership of the city as a spatial, material, and conceptual entity finds increased practical resonance in the ambitions of the ESRC-funded PCAN network. By Dr Matthew Lane, post-doctoral researcher in urban climate governance at the University of Edinburgh, School of Geosciences and lead on the recently established PCAN Ethnography working group.

Research Projects

  • 20 minute neighbourhoods in a Scottish context (March 2021)

'20 minute neighbourhoods' are places that are designed so residents can meet their day-to-day needs within a 20 minute walk of their home; through access to safe walking and cycling routes, or by public transport. This ClimateXChange reserach considers the ambition for 20 minute neighbourhoods in Scotland, taking account of the differing settlement patterns across the country, and to highlight interventions that would support delivery. Read more.

  • A review of heat decarbonisation policies in Europe (March 2021)

Decarbonising how we heat our buildings is a significant challenge for climate policy. This ClimateXChange report reviews the heating technologies and heat policies of nine European countries: the UK (with a focus on Scotland), the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, France, Germany and Ireland. It sets out in detail the policy instruments – financial incentives, regulations and tax structures – that are used to drive countries toward zero-carbon heating. Where available, we also present information on how each country is developing policies and targets for the decarbonisation of heating. Read more.

  • Using satellite data to help quantify Scottish greenhouse gas emissions (February 2021)

At present, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for Scotland are published annually, approximately 18 months after the period to which they relate. The current approach combines annual production and usage statistics with estimates of how much carbon is emitted per unit measure of production and usage. An alternative approach is to look to the atmosphere. This study examines how satellite observations of the atmosphere could be used to build on existing modelling efforts and report GHG emissions well in advance of the present estimates. Read more.

Co-produced by Place-based Climate Action Network and Carbon Management MSc alum Robert Williamson, with an introduction by ECCI’s Head of Innovation and Skills, Jamie Brogan. Find out more about the Road Map.

This report provides a policy background and information on carbon emissions and sequestration in the construction industry, along with recommendations for policy. By Dr. Renée Kerkvliet-Hermans, as part of a SAGES policy internship working with Landscapes as Carbon Sinks at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI), Centre for Sustainable Forests and Landscapes (CSFL) and Climate-KIC.

In Edinburgh the Local Authority has set a target that the city will reach net zero emissions by 2030. Achieving this ambitious goal will require significant investment and collaboration with actors from across the city. With this in mind, this briefing will present some of the methods that groups in cities across the world have developed in order to reduce their carbon emissions. By Alice Creasy for ECCI, University of Edinburgh and PCAN.

An evidence synthesis from existing case studies - examines the evidence from a desk-based review of existing place-based climate governance strategies across the UK. Stimulated by the creation of three Climate Commissions in Leeds, Edinburgh and Belfas, part of a UK government- funded Place-Based Climate Action Network (PCAN). By Alice Creasy, Matthew Lane, Rosanna Harvey-Crawford for ECCI, University of Edinburgh and PCAN.

Marli de Jongh’s report for Scottish Parliament's think-tank Scottish Futures Forum helps evidence the need to change how we use land within cities. Research was conducted by University of Glasgow PhD student Marli de Jongh during a policy internship funded by SAGES.

The need to stabilize greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere is the great environmental challenge of this century. This research summarizes how soil carbon sequestration could be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere and how this can be applied to the agricultural industry. By Laura Quick, a PhD student in Geosciences at Edinburgh as part of ECCI’s NERC placement programme.

Postgraduate Student Dissertations, August 2020

Masters programmes

We host a range of postgraduate courses at ECCI, designed to help build a low carbon society. Our hub is home to around 200 Masters students, studying everything from carbon management to environmental sustainability.

The online Carbon Management MSc is a ground-breaking development of our award-winning campus-based programme, providing students worldwide with high-level knowledge, skills and training in the business, economics and science of carbon management.

Our graduates have been very successful in securing employment in the carbon and climate change sector around the world, securing a broad range of roles from renewable energy project developers, to NGO climate policy researchers and executives.

The MSc in Carbon Management has excellent relationships with relevant employers, as well as an alumni network covering more than 25 nations which provides graduates with unique opportunities to link up on research projects and find new positions in the field of carbon management. Hear from our MSc Carbon Management students and find out about the course from the 2015-2016 cohort.

Meet the team

Find out more about our in-house experts, and what they do at ECCI.