Cambridge Zero Research Symposium – Economy & Society

28 Oct 2022
1:00pm - 3:15pm

Call For Papers and Attendance

This Michaelmas term, Cambridge Zero in collaboration with Hughes Hall Centre for Climate Engagement are running four half day symposia. The aim of these symposia is to showcase the ground-breaking research related to sustainability, climate change, and net-zero that is happening across Cambridge, to connect researchers from across different communities and disciplines, and encourage new collaborations. Attendance is free.

The list of symposia is as follows:

  • 28th October – Economy & Society: achieving sustainable development using natural capital, social capital and sustainable finance.
  • 8th November – Carbon Capture & Climate Repair: what, where, when, how, by whom and for whom?
  • 21st November – Behavioural Change & Education: tackling misinformation and promoting institutional and individual action
  • 7th December – Climate & Disease: drivers, impacts and solutions

Each symposium will be held in the Pavilion Room at Hughes Hall, Cambridge. They will run from 1pm to 5.10pm with lunch from 1pm – 1.50pm. There will also be a drinks reception from 5.10pm until 6pm.

Each symposium will feature a number of keynote presentations from senior Cambridge academics, and we are inviting submissions from Early Career Researchers (Cambridge Postdocs and PhD students) to present their research in a series of 10 minute presentations. There is also the option to give a 2 minute ‘lightning’ presentation instead of a 10 minute one. This would consist of a single slide and a (very) brief explanation of your research. This may be a suitable option for those just beginning their research project or to present ideas for future research projects.  

We invite interested researchers whose work fits under the broad remit of sustainability and/ or climate change to submit abstracts via this form.

The audience is likely to predominantly internal Cambridge researchers, but we also expect some external interest.

If you would like to attend without presenting, you are also welcome. In this case, please email Daniel Robins so that we know how many will be attending.

Programme – Symposium 1 – Economic & Societal Change

 Friday 28 October, Pavillion Room, Hughes Hall 

1.00pm Lunch 

1.50pm Welcome and Introduction – Emily Farnworth, Director, Centre for Climate Engagement

1.55pm Keynote – Financing forests: a credible approach to halting tropical deforestation 

Anil Madhavapeddy, Professor of Planetary Computing, Computer Laboratory Director, Cambridge Centre for Carbon Credits 
The rate of tropical deforestation is continuing to increase, and with it comes an enormous loss of biodiversity and natural resources. Ideally, we need a massive number of new conservation projects that will provide alternatives to deforestation in the regions worst affected in the tropical equatorial belt. I will report on how we are using satellite remote sensing to construct a global view of tropical rainforests, and to measure the effectiveness of conservation interventions from a viewpoint of additionality, leakage and permanence. We can use these measurements to build up a quantitative model of the project, and then combine with qualitative metrics such as biodiversity, local livelihood and justice to build up a complete project assessment that can be used as the basis for trustworthy, verifiable carbon credits. 

2.10pm Impacts of climate change in fragile contexts: mapping the cascading effects in Venezuela and the Gaza Strip 

Emma Houiellebecq, PhD Candidate, Department of Engineering 
The effects of climate change and environmental degradation tend to exacerbate fragile contexts, where their capacity to adapt and cope is already severely limited due to other geopolitical and economic factors. This presentation offers a systems-level analysis of how specific climate hazards tend to have cascading and compounding effects on the delivery of essential urban services in fragile contexts. Examples are presented from recent fieldwork in Venezuela and the Gaza Strip – two very diverse cases of fragile states; yet both facing cascading effects from climate change. 

2.20pm  –  What is so hard about the hard-to-decarbonise sector? – the case of residential buildings in UK 

Ronita Bardhan, Associate Professor of Sustainability in Built Environment, Department of Architecture 
Domestic buildings form a significant part of the Hard-to-decarbonise sector. While technological solutions are needed to release decarbonisation targets, stakeholders are critical to the transition. This talk will share results from an expert consultation event and a research project. First, the results of an expert consultation held at the Climate Change Forum 2022, organised by the Royal Meteorological Society, are presented, and elaborated. It will then discuss the preliminary result of a collaborative research project on using space-based technology for energy efficiency in the residential sector funded by the UK Space Agency. Next, possible pathways for identifying the mass retrofit needs in the residential sector will be explored. Then, as a possible solution, the talk will explain how mass retrofit needs can be identified, clustered, and optimally implemented using a mix of urban planning and space-based technology. Finally, the discussion will conclude with the urban planning and building policies that can aid in easing the transition. 

2.30pm Q&A

3.00pm Keynote – The wealth economy: measuring social and natural capital 

Dimitri Zenghelis, Special Advisor to the Wealth Economy project, Bennett Institute for Public Policy 
The Wealth Economy project seeks to augment GDP with a small dashboard recording access to key assets. In particular, natural capital – the resources and services provided by nature and Social and institutional capital – the personal, social, civic relationships that enable economic and social interaction. 

3.00pm Governmental energy innovation funding and institutions in China 

Tong Xu; Fellow; Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance (C-EENRG); Department of Land Economy 
As one of the most important energy production and consumption countries, China became the second biggest country to innovate energy technology research, development, and demonstration (RD&D). China announced at the UN General Assembly in 2020 that it will target carbon neutrality by 2060. The systematic evaluation of the energy RD&D programs has important implications for the policy design for carbon neutrality. We used bottom-up and top-down methods to collect data and used the International Energy Agency classification, including energy efficiency, nuclear fission and fusion, fossil fuels, hydrogen and fuel cells, other power and storage technologies, other cross-cutting technologies, and research. 

3.25pm Plastic food packaging: balancing the evils 

Claire Barlow, Emeritus Faculty, Institute for Manufacturing 
There is huge pressure to reduce or eliminate the use of plastics for food packaging, mainly as a consequence of the devastating effects that plastic waste has on our natural environment. But this is only part of a much more complex picture. A more balanced systems-based assessment of the impact of plastics in food production, storage and use shows that carbon footprints are increased by moving away from petrochemical-based plastics. The whole issue of food packaging is highly emotive, and the knee-jerk responses can be problematic. This talk will summarise the main factors involved and discuss what the future may hold. 

3.40pm Q&A

4.10pm Keynote – Climate action: lessons from history 

David Reiner Associate Professor in Technology Policy, Judge Business School 
Most countries and many companies are now committed to net-zero emissions. Understanding how we wound up in the current situation requires a deep dive into the history of the international climate negotiations. The seeds for the solutions agreed in Kyoto, Paris and Glasgow lie in the Earth Summit at Rio in 1992 and the commitments undertaken in UN Framework Convention but also in the form of other international environmental agreements. In particular, the Montreal Protocol on ozone depleting substances, which served as an imperfect template for the climate regime. Finally, we consider lessons for the future evolution of the climate regime. 

4.25pm Computers and the internet: climate hazard or opportunity? 

Markus Hellenbrand, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy 
The combined power consumption of data centres around the world is equivalent to 20 nuclear power plants and it is estimated that by 2030, up to 50 % of global electricity consumption will be caused by Information and Computing Technologies. In addition, all our computers and smartphones require rare minerals to function. None of this is not sustainable. From a physicist’s/materials scientist’s/electrical engineer’s perspective, I will argue that the betterment of our climate crisis is not held back by limitations in technological advancement, but by policy making and societal behaviour. 

4.35pm Upskill to upscale: capital-centric opportunities for skill training of micro-entrepreneurs in emerging markets 

Soniya Gupta-Rawal, PhD Student, Judge Business School 
Despite the efforts of microentrepreneurs in emerging markets to break the shackles of limited business skills, they are unable to operate their businesses sustainably. In order to intensify entrepreneurial activities, a pertinent obstacle is to identify the specialized skills required in order to allocate suitable mentors to microentrepreneurs. This empirical study aims to bridge the gap by examining the impact of specialized skill training on micro-entrepreneurs’ performance in EMs, with the given capital-centric factors. The study employs the triangulation approach involving literature, interviews, and empirical analysis of data from survey and picture-based coding for 2500+ microentrepreneurs in India. 

5.05pm Drinks Reception 

6.00pm End