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Edinburgh Climate Change Institute: 2022 Round Up

Key acheivements in 2022

Throughout 2022, our community of climate change practitioners, academics and students has continued to play a significant role in accelerating climate action in Scotland, the UK and beyond.

Through their work at the interface between climate change research and practice, our teams have played a strong role in underpinning policy for climate change mitigation and adaptation at a regional and national level, won funding to deliver critical climate change action for Scotland and made significant contributions to teaching and research excellence in the School of Geosciences at the University of Edinburgh.

  • Scotland’s Centre of Expertise on Climate Change (ClimateXChange) won the tender to continue and expand its operations for the next three years, resulting in the busiest year for ClimateXChange with the procurement of over 30 projects and 5 new staff.
  • Expanded work of the Sustainable Scotland Network (SSN) in coordinating and supporting delivery of climate change reporting by all local authorities and public bodies in Scotland.
  • Successful first year of climate change training provision for SMEs as part of the Royal Bank of Scotland programme led by ECCI’s Climate Partnerships Team.
  • Expert advice to UK, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments on climate action, in particular in relation to climate education, green skills and jobs.
  • Expert evidence to the Scottish Parliament on climate action, in particular on local authority needs and capacities.
  • ECCI Co-Director Kate Crowley officially an invited member of the Scottish Scientific Advisory Committee – Adaptation Working Group.
  • Significant climate outreach to schools and the wider public, including being core partners in Green Careers Week and Protecting our Planet Day in the first week of COP27 - reaching >100k students across the UK.
  • Launched 3 new open access climate change courses (MOOCs) - the first focused on United Arab Emirates, and the other two focussed on Egypt.
  • Enhanced collaborations with our resident organisations (Wave Energy Scotland, Sniffer and Adaptation Scotland, Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage and the Edinburgh Earth Initiative) to deliver student placements, dissertations and teaching & training.
  • Launched the ECCI Associate scheme to further create opportunities for collaboration across the University of Edinburgh on climate change research and action.
  • Hosted multiple events and high impact conferences including Climatell 2022, the UK Alliance for Disaster Research Annual Conference, and co-hosted the Green Skills Scotland conference that drew in over 200 delegates.
  • Supported Climate Beacons - the Scotland-wide collaborative climate and culture project in the lead-up to and following COP26. The ground-breaking initiative created over 160 events that involved over 50 organisations and attracted more than 18,000 attendees and 129,000 digital engagements.

Our vision for 2023 and beyond

Our vision is a resilient, just and climate neutral Scotland, showing leadership in global climate action.

We create, support and work in partnership with researchers, communities, policy makers and businesses to find and implement place-based climate solutions, such as reducing emissions, building resilience and promoting equality and justice to tackle the climate emergency.

View our newly updated ECCI vision and strategic goals (2022-2027), co-created by the ECCI community.

ECCI community: 2022 news round up

ClimateXChange

ClimateXChange is Scotland’s centre of expertise on climate change, managing science-for-policy projects for the Scottish Government, aiming to understand how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, how different sectors can adapt to a changing climate and how to create policies that are fair and make the most of Scotland's assets. The team won the tender to continue and expand its operations for the next three years, resulting in the busiest year for ClimateXChange with the procurement of over 30 projects and 5 new staff.

Sustainable Scotland Network (SSN)

Sustainable Scotland Network (SSN) is Scotland’s public sector network on sustainability and climate change and this year the team have been at the heart of public body climate change action. They delivered a range of member events (over 180 public body members are part of the network) including the SSN conference, with over 300 delegates attending. Ahead of the SSN Spring Conference, the Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Climate Change wrote to all public sector Chief Executives to highlight the new reporting duties.

Climate Partnerships team

The Climate Partnership Team (CPT) form a core technical and applied research capacity within ECCI. The team have secured a range of projects this past year and continue to provide invaluable technical support to the University of Edinburgh's post graduate teaching community and students. The team has also grown to 8 practitioners, including 3 former University of Edinburgh MSc students.

A snapshot of successes from this team include supporting Scottish Enterprise to deliver a climate impact project through innovation centres, delivering the carbon scenario tool report to Scottish Government and approximately 10 engagement sessions to public sector and government leaders about the findings. The team continues to manage and deliver a high profile portfolio including Royal Bank of Scotland: Climate Springboard that has now trained four cohorts of business professionals.

In addition to the Royal Bank of Scotland, project partners include the City of Edinburgh Council, the Scottish Cities Alliance, Scottish Borders Council, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Visit Scotland and the ESRC-funded PCAN project. As part of this work, ECCI’s Head of Climate Partnerships, Jamie Brogan, has been invited onto the Council of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, to Chair a citywide group on Just Economic Transition, and has recently agreed to take over as Chair of the Edinburgh Climate Commission.

The CPT also coordinated the delivery of the NERC innovation programme in collaboration with the E4DTP programme at the University of Edinburgh; and initiated and coordinated three, six month policy placements in collaboration with SAGES. SAGES also published a major report this year, showcasing the brilliant achievements of the SAGES Innovation programme through 2016-2022.

Business Development

The Business Development team has continued to secure industrial led, collaborative R&D awards for a number of GeoSciences academics. The College Impact Accelerator including, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Science and Technology Facilities Council and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Impact Acceleration Accounts have been a valuable source of investment to help the University secure longer-term partnerships with business and end users. In collaboration with Ecometrica, for example, Beatrice Mocci - a former MSc Carbon Management student - published Staying Power, which discusses carbon offsets and a need to link the price of carbon removal methods to the permanence of the carbon store.

Established in 2022, the new GeoSciences Accounts Team oversees and coordinates all innovation activities across the School and is led by Head of Business Development &nd Innovation Stuart Simmons.  The group meets monthly to report and share activity and is the primary engagement mechanism for staff, with a focus on sustainability, the climate crisis and solution-oriented topics.  The meeting integrates work in climate modelling, earth observation, adaptation, geo energy and climate mitigation.

Space Sector Business Development Lead, Kristina Tamane, who is also Co-Chair of the Environmental Task Force, was a key contributor to Scotland’s space sector new sustainable space roadmap, which declared its commitment to reducing its impact on the environment through the publication of a new sustainable space roadmap. Kristina also represented ECCI, alongside ECCI Co-Director Dr Kate Crowley and members of the EEI team, when NASA Administrator Bill Nelson visited the University of Edinburgh to meet staff and students and share insights about sustainability and space. During the visit, the team highlighted how their work is supporting the translation of space research excellence in to managing and mitigating the effects of climate change and discussed ECCI's role as a unique climate hub within the University.

Edinburgh Earth Initiative

With a team based at ECCI, the Edinburgh Earth Initiative was launched in January 2022 to accelerate the University of Edinburgh’s contribution to the climate and environmental emergency across research, global partnerships, student experiences, philanthropy, communications, and innovation, while being rooted in a commitment to justice and equity. As well as launching with a core staff team, EEI engaged 13 new Earth Fellows in the Autumn, with a new cohort due to start in the new year. The Earth Fellows programme provides paid opportunities for undergraduate, postgraduate, and PhD students at the University of Edinburgh to work on projects of strategic importance related to climate, environment, and sustainability.

Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (SCCS)

Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (SCCS), which is strongly driven by the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, is the largest CCS research group in the UK, providing a single point of coordination for CCS research, from capture engineering and geoscience to social perceptions and environmental impact through to law and petroleum economics.

This year saw SCCS continue to collaborate with academics and researchers across GeoSciences and beyond on helping to deliver the skills and strategic collaborations needed to decarbonise (not only) the Scottish economy and to achieve wider net zero targets. This included in-person and online CPD courses, post-doc research mixer events, a refreshed annual conference and more research projects brought to the school.

In May, and again in November, the ‘Introduction to CCUS’ training course was rolled out with a specific focus on reaching participants in the north east of Scotland, and included the SSE graduate programme, more than a third of Scotland’s local authorities, Scottish Enterprise staff and representatives from other Scottish Government agencies. Starting in November, to coincide with COP27, the world-leading CCS MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) ran for a 5th time. This year, the ever-popular course pulled in over 1,000 participants - meaning that, to date, over 27,000 people have now taken the course - and it was delivered in Mandarin for the first time.

In June, SCCS welcomed delegates from across Europe for the SCCS PhD Consortium launch event, which was designed to kick off a programme of industry support for knowledge transfer with some of Scotland’s best doctoral candidates, and the SCCS Annual Conference, which considered the political and regulatory aspects of ‘ownership’ of carbon dioxide, as well as the widening range of CCS applications being developed across different industrial sectors. GeoSciences’ PhD students and PDRAs were heavily involved in both events, as was Bryne Ngwenya, Head of School, GeoSciences, who chaired the ‘CCS in Scotland’ conference session, which saw Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, Scottish Government, deliver the keynote address on the importance of CCUS to achieving Scotland’s transition to net zero.

In September, SCCS began work on a new Horizon Europe research project, CCUS-ZEN. The project is focused on knowledge sharing to support the development of CCUS in the Baltic and Mediterranean regions.

Sniffer

Sniffer is the leading sustainability charity in Scotland and manages the highly successful Adaptation Scotland Programme. They lead multiple high profile programmes across the country as well as producing a range of tools for resilience. The team have collaborated with the wider ECCI community in various ways, including the co-development of a new Adaptation Literacy Course that will be piloted in early 2023; guest lectures for students on adaptation and partnership dissertation supervision.

Sniffer are also working on a project to further develop and test a Tracker tool that ECCI developed to support SMEs to reduce emissions - the aim is to work collaboratively with ECCI next year to add in climate adaptation components to the tracker tool and test it with four Glasgow based businesses.

Wave Energy Scotland

Wave Energy Scotland support a range of projects focused on the key systems and sub-systems of Wave Energy Converters. The aim is to produce reliable technology which will result in cost effective wave energy generation. This past year, WES have had many successes including team member Jillian Henderson, winning the Innovator Award at the Young Green Energy Awards.

In addition to multiple media mentions, mainly relating to the technologies developed through the WES programme, the team also supported the successful testing in either laboratory or real sea conditions for many of the technologies developed through the WES programme. WES has also recently announced the transition of 5 projects to Phase 2 of the EuropeWave funding programme being lead by WES, and part funded by Scotland, Basque Country and European Commission. In collaboration with ECCI staff, WES has provided a placement to a SAGES student, using GIS to develop and analyse wave entry resource around Scotland and help to identify attractive sites for development of large offshore wave farms.

Associates, skills and training

This year ECCI expanded its integration with leading climate change academics across the University of Edinburgh by welcoming its first tranche of ECCI Associates. Via our inclusive climate change hub in Edinburgh, ECCI will work with the academics across a multitude of programmes and projects to enhance our work in translating cutting edge climate change research into policy and practice. ECCI's 12 Associates are all leaders in climate change research, policy and practice in Scotland, the UK and globally, with expertise ranging from airborne research and innovation and cultural geography, to sustainable forests and landscapes and the causes and consequences of extreme climate events.

Around 350 MSc graduates of the School of GeoSciences were formally given their MSc degrees in 2022, including a record 62 Carbon Management graduates from both the online and on-campus programmes, both of which are hosted by ECCI. The ECCI community contributed to multiple guest lectures for a range of postgraduate programmes, as well as delivering skills development workshops, such as Carbon Footprinting for students. The Climate Partnerships Team will lead a core course for MSc Carbon Management next year and a collaborative team within Sniffer/Adaptation Scotland are also designing a Carbon Literacy programme for practitioners, available from January 2023.

This year we also launched 3 new open access climate change courses (MOOCs) - the first focused on United Arab Emirates, and the other two focussed on Egypt - English and Arabic versions. ECCI teams have also delivered a significant climate outreach to schools and the wider public, including being core partners in Green Careers Week and Protecting our Planet Day in the first week of COP27 – reaching around 100,000 students across the UK.