Tackling climate change: researchers offer solutions to solve global challenge

White Rose Brussels event

Academics from a leading consortium of universities showcased how their research can inform policy and offer solutions to tackle the global challenge of climate change during an event in the European Parliament.

Researchers from the White Rose University Consortium, made up of the universities of Sheffield, Leeds and York, led a series of talks on the impact of climate change on society and ecosystems and how robust research can offer effective policy solutions to these problems.

The event in Brussels was chaired by Professor Dave Petley, Vice-President for Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield, and hosted by Seb Dance MEP, member of the Environment, Food and Public Health Committee.

Key speakers showcased areas of research and excellence from the universities and the work being conducted over a global network to improve our physical, technological, economic and social understanding of climate change - including strategies for mitigation and adaptation.

Co-director of the Plant Production and Protection Centre (P3) at the University of Sheffield, Professor Duncan Cameron, spoke about food security through his 2017 research paper on energy consumption in the wheat to bread supply chain.

He analysed the complete process of making a loaf of bread - from growing and harvesting the wheat; milling the grain; producing the flour; baking the bread and the production of the final product - and found that the ammonium nitrate fertiliser used in wheat cultivation contributes almost half (43 per cent) of the greenhouse gas emissions.

Professor Cameron said: “Safeguarding food security for future generations is one of the biggest challenges for the 21st century. In a time of rapid environmental change it’s important to create solutions and policy founded on leading research.

“The future of our planet depends on us choosing a path to a more equitable and sustainable future.”

There were contributions from Gerda Verburg, United Nations Assistant Secretary General, and Mrs Elena Visnar Malinovska, Head of Adaptation Unit DG CLIMA, European Commission.

From the University of Leeds, Professor Lea Berrang-Ford, discussed her work on ‘The Adaptation Gap’ 2017 UN Environmental Report, which explored the key opportunities and challenges associated with assessing progress on adaptation at the global level.

Professor Lisa Emberson, from the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York, presented her work on air pollution and climate change within a ‘climate smart agriculture’ to support the development of national action plans and national pledges for mitigation.

Professor Dave Petley, Vice-President for Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield, said: “Tackling climate change is one the most pressing global challenges facing the world today. Through events like this, we are showing policymakers the role our research and expertise can play in providing solutions that can make a real difference and benefit society.”

The White Rose Consortium has a base in Brussels, which enables researchers from the three universities to work with key stakeholders to influence EU research policy. The White Rose universities engage strategically with European universities and continue to strengthen links with European members of the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN), such as the Universities of Maastricht, Bergen and Basel.

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2018 and for the last eight years has been ranked in the top five UK universities for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education.

​​Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Hannah Postles
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 1046