Thriving Planet

We are on an unrestricted search for answers to better understand the impact of climate change. Developing a sustainable future focused on clean air and water, biodiversity conservation, and clean energy and transport.

Clean Air and Water 

Poor air quality is recognised as the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death. Our experts are responsible for one of three UK Air Quality Supersites monitoring the atmosphere in fine detail to understand factors contributing to air pollution. Working across the West Midlands, researchers within the WM-Air programme are working with key regional partners to apply air quality data to local initiatives and provide evidence to shape the global policy debate. 

Access to clean water is a similarly critical climate issue. Water is increasingly seen as the ‘climate connector’, offering opportunities to collaborate on sustainable management across research disciplines, societies and governments. Researchers at the University of Birmingham are leading investigations such as the 100 Plastic Rivers programme, assessing the risk from nano- and microplastics in rivers; and providing new models and data to help governments better understand how to address global inequalities in water security. 

Biodiversity Conservation 

The world has seen an average 68% drop in animal populations since 1970, mostly caused by habitat destruction and climate change. We are studying the intricate relationships between animals, plants and their environments, in order to find practical solutions to protect the world’s precious biodiversity. 

Strategic plant conservation is a key component of this goal, as well as being vital to global food security. Our plant scientists are leading the way in collecting information about the wild relatives of domestic crops that could help us breed more resilient plants. 

At the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research, we are responsible for one of the world’s largest outdoor experiments, where trees are exposed to carbon dioxide at levels expected to be the norm by 2050. We’re examining the effects of this increase and linking up with similar experiments in Australia and the Amazon. 

We’re working to reduce toxic chemical pollution too. Through the Centre for Environmental Research and Justice, our experts are investigating ways to use model organisms like daphnia, or water fleas, and powerful computational approaches to understand how harmful different chemicals are in the environment and to human health.

Clean Energy and Transport 

It is estimated that 90% of the world's electricity can and should come from renewable sources by 2050. 

In order to achieve this, the Birmingham Energy Institute (BEI) is developing technologies and new ways of working to create the sustainable solutions needed to transition to a zero-carbon energy system.  

Many of these innovations can be seen in action at Tyseley Energy Park where our researchers are part of a collaboration working to transform clean energy innovation in waste, energy and low carbon vehicle systems.   

Globally, researchers in our Centre for Energy Storage are leading a UK-China collaborative project developing the first commercial demonstration plant that converts surplus wind power into space heating. And, in our Centre for Sustainable Cooling, we are bringing together experts worldwide to meet the rising demand for clean cooling. 

Our experts are challenging existing technologies in the transport sector too. The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education developed the hydrogen fuel technology that powers HydroFLEX, the UK’s first mainline-approved hydrogen-powered train, while experts in battery recycling are devising ways of giving used vehicle batteries a second life. 

The sustainable management and reuse of water resources is vital for ensuring societal, economic, and environmental wellbeing.

We have developed and prototyped a nature-inspired, sustainable technology that removes ‘forever chemicals’ from wastewater, enabling water reuse, protecting the health of our environment and safeguarding biodiversity.


Professor Luisa Orsini

Professor Luisa Orsini

Professor of Evolutionary Systems Biology and Environmental Omics

Discover more

  • Our research impact

    Read more about our real-world impact in building more sustainable environments

  • Birmingham Energy Institute

    We are focused on creating technology and guiding policy which will shape the energy solutions of tomorrow.

  • Tyseley Energy Park

    Our mission is to transform clean energy innovation in the region by stimulating and demonstrating new technologies and turning them into viable energy systems.

  • Clean Air

    We are working with partners across the globe to understand how to save lives at risk from poor air quality.

  • Centre for Environmental Research and Justice

    combine modern science and law to make the environment safe from toxic chemicals and to defend people's rights to a healthful environment.

  • Responsible Future

    Research from the Birmingham Business School is informing policy on electric vehicles, and encouraging the practice of hybrid/home working in a bid to reduce pollution caused by commuting.

  • The Birmingham Institute of Forest Research

    Leading fundamental science, social science and cultural research into global forested landscapes.

  • The Future of Energy & Transport

    Working with industry partners to turn theory, through experimentation, into real-world applications to decarbonise the energy and transport sectors.

  • Key staff

    Find out about our researchers who work collaboratively within this field

  • Policy experts

    University of Birmingham researchers and academic experts are working across all major policy areas, this guide aims to enable policy makers to contact researchers quickly and efficiently.

  • Media experts

    The University of Birmingham is one of the UK's leading universities for research and can offer expertise to the media on many different subjects.


    We are proud to launch The Birmingham Institute of Sustainability and Climate Action (BISCA) - providing a new collaborative platform to nurture expertise and develop partnerships to tackle global challenges.