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Sociology, Social Policy and CriminologyPart of Economic, Social and Political Science

Study aims to transform cities to healthier and lower carbon places to live

Published: 22 June 2012Origin: Social Statistics and Demography

Engineers and social scientists at the University of Southampton are working on a low carbon research project which could transform the way cities are built, as well as the way we live in them.

The University research team will develop ‘pathways’ to new engineering and social solutions that test acceptability and coherence for low carbon living. The study aims to create alternative urban futures with drastically reduced CO2 emissions.
Dr Milena Buchs and Professor Jane Falkingham, from Social Sciences, are studying ways in which low carbon city scenarios are likely to affect people’s behaviour, attitudes and wellbeing, using existing datasets and new data from case studies.
Dr Buchs explains: “This project aims to map out what it will be like for people living under the proposed UK government target of an 80 per cent reduction of Co2 by 2050. We want to find out how this change affects peoples’ aspirations and practices, and also the economic and social impacts caused by the reduction.”

Professor AbuBakr Bahaj of the University of Southampton’s Energy and Climate Change Division (ECCD) and the Sustainable Energy Research Group, is leading the multidisciplinary research team. The work is also supported by Dr Patrick James from the ECCD.

In 2008, for the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population was living in towns and cities. The UK was the first country in the world in which this happened. By the 2001 census almost 80 per cent of the UK population lived in cities, today this figure has risen to 90 per cent.

The University of Southampton study will conduct case studies and surveys and contribute to the development of a city analysis methodology in pioneering futures research. The researchers will create roadmaps that aim to drive future engineering and social science thinking for decades to come. Its goal is to influence policy and be used by urban designers in the UK with the potential to be applied anywhere in the world.

The study has been made possible by a £6.5 million Programme Grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Lancaster University, University College London and the University of Birmingham, who are leading the project, are also part of the five-year multidisciplinary research team.

Commercial partners include power and gas company E-ON, global engineering consultancy Halcrow, international engineering and construction company Costain and the UK’s rail operator Network Rail.

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