We change the world for the better. Air pollution, environmental heath, deforestation and climate change affect us all. As climate leaders met at COP26, we all acknowledge the urgency to stop the climate crisis. Our researchers examine, how together, we combat this global emergency.

A deeper dive into our sustaining the world research

We all know that the decisions we make about our planet today will determine the landscape of tomorrow, which is why environmental health, climate change and sustainability are all key focusses for University of Leicester researchers. We are spearheads in satellite observations of climate, remote sensing of changing land surface, and atmospheric composition, and are ranked first in the world for our research in the ‘Life on Land’ category of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Our satellite observation doesn’t stop there. Data from space has been instrumental in enabling our experts to analyse the impact of man-made pollutants on health. Air pollution alone is thought to be responsible for many thousands of deaths per year, which makes it a great cause of concern for those with heart disease, COPD and asthma in particular. With such concerning figures, understanding the impact of man-made pollutants on the environment is essential to improving the health of populations across the world.

From the University’s long-established study of air quality to its new Centre for Environmental Health and Sustainability, our work in this area is internationally renowned. Our Centre for Environmental Health and Sustainability seeks to improve human health and the health of the environment through cutting edge, multidisciplinary research that builds on our expertise in environment, health and sustainability. 

Central to keeping the planet’s carbon levels in check is preventing the destruction of peatlands. Built up over tens of thousands of years, peatlands are among the most valuable ecosystems on earth and highly efficient carbon sinks that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and lock it away in the ground. These precious landscapes are, however, increasingly at risk from plantation development, logging and mining. Our research is providing vital insights into the impact of human activities on these environments, in regions ranging from swamp forests of Indonesia, tropical peatland in the Congo, and the agricultural Fenlands of eastern England. 

The Anthropocene is a new geological period being defined by our researchers, as one dominated by human impact on our planet. This period raises the critical question of ‘how is the natural world changing because of us?’ and ‘have we passed the point of no return?’ with our actions. This area of research is truly interdisciplinary, encapsulating research from the physical sciences, social sciences and even philosophy.