Marrakech Climate Change Conference

Man-induced climate change is a global problem and could be considered one of the worst consequences of human industrialisation. The challenge that faces researchers and policy makers is how to deal with the short term and long term effects of climate change on our environment. The Conference of Parties, COP, was established as an annual meeting for nations to discuss these challenges. The most recent conference was held in November in Marrakech (Morocco). Members of the Grantham Centre, including our own Prof. Tony Ryan, attended to discuss their research.

The attendees of the conference itself can be separated into two groups: those that discuss academic research and those that discuss how to implement that research into policy. Both are needed in such situations with the implementation being a long arduous process of negotiation and alterations.

Marrakech PictureThe Grantham Centre was established to address environmental research questions. It is the collaboration between many faculties in the University of Sheffield, including the department of chemistry. Containing both scientific researchers and policy makers, the goal of the Grantham Centre is to equip the next generation with the tools to adapt to the changes in the environment.

Prof. Tony Ryan attended the climate change conference to discuss his research with a particular focus on the identification of smarter solutions to some of the problems associated with man-induced climate change to prevent knock-on issues in the future. The main research that Prof. Ryan presented was related to the Nexus problem, the need for food, energy, and water. Much research at the Grantham Centre is attempting to address this. One of the key issues that Prof. Ryan raised at the conference regarded soil health. As a direct consequence of modern-era farming, soil mainly provides support for the plant with soil additives providing the major nutrients responsible for the growth. So, some synthetic soils and ways to mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration were discussed.

One of the solutions to the issue of sustainable food growth is in the use of polyurethane foam as a growth medium in greenhouses. Greenhouses in warmer climates (deserts) would use polyurethane foam as a synthetic soil, be watered by artificial rain produced through the desalination of sea water and would be able to protect plants from too much damaging sunlight. Ideas such as this climate-controlled greenhouse have the potential to have a major impact on the world in the future.

In addition, Prof. Ryan presented research at the Gulf Countries Consortium, consisting of the delegates of the Persian Gulf countries. The aim of this talk was to inspire countries that export oil to alter their use of it. For example, instead of simply burning oil for energy that is then used to create products from raw materials, oil could be broken down into the same products.

For more information on the Grantham Centre, visit its website, and for information on this conference and the upcoming climate change conferences visit its website.

Written By
Joe Clarke

With thanks to Prof. Tony Ryan for his time and contribution.