Helping Yorkshire reduce its carbon footprint

A West Yorkshire city’s ambitious plans to tackle the effects of climate change are being supported by three University of Leeds students.

Bilal Mian, Samantha Clatworthy and James Ireland and have been working on sustainable future projects with Bradford Council and social housing provider Incommunities.

The aim has been to develop detailed environmental plans to help the city meet its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2038.

The trio took on the challenge as part of their MSc Sustainability and Consultancy course at the School of Earth and Environment.

Bilal has been working with the council to develop a framework to help engage with key stakeholders in the district who could help address the climate crisis. This includes developing an interactive map to track climate action and sustainable development activity in the Bradford district.

He said: “Once I have completed my MSc, I am hoping to work in industry in a role related to sustainability or the charity/humanitarian sector where I can utilise the skills from both my undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering BEng and my postgraduate MSc in Sustainability and Consultancy.”

Zero carbon target

James is working with the council on its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2038. This target is aimed at reducing the effects of global warming such as flooding and helping the district to recover from the pandemic with a sustainable economy, reduced fuel poverty, green job opportunities, improved air quality and more active lifestyles.

He said: “I hope to identify areas, strategies, and policies where the council can make substantial progress in reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This will allow the council to be a leader for the whole district's net zero transition by demonstrating what is possible.”

After he completes his studies, James hopes to continue working in the sustainability sector either in a local authority or for a consultancy firm.

Green spaces

Samantha is working with social housing provider Incommunities, investigating the potential for green space on its sites.

She said: “Green spaces are being increasingly recognised as providing important social, environmental, and economic benefits to communities.

“Currently, Incommunities is developing their Sustainability Strategy 2030 and their Biodiversity and Green Space Plan. They own and manage 230 hectares of open land vital to achieving their climate and biodiversity net gain targets.”

Samantha’s project will include mapping Incommunities’ land and looking at how to improve and maximize the social and environmental benefits of their current green spaces.

In the future, Samantha hopes to work in a role which involves improving the sustainability of the built environment. She is working towards IEMA (Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment) Practitioner status and wants to become certified in BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), which sets best practice standards for the environmental performance of buildings.

Connecting issues

Professor Alice Owen, of Leeds’ School of Earth and Environment, organises the students' MSc Sustainability projects.

She said: “It’s the first time we’ve had students working on such a great range of projects in Bradford, and it shows how the city is tackling sustainability on several fronts and connecting social and environmental issues together.

“It’s fantastic experience for the MSc students to deal with real pressures and challenges, and hopefully they can contribute to progress in the city as well.”

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Portfolio Holder for Healthy People and Places for Bradford City Council, said: “It’s great to know that we and our partners Incommunities are working to support the studies and future careers of upcoming sustainability and environmental specialists.

“I am sure we will also benefit greatly from their hard work and knowledge. I wish them all the best for their final research projects and for whatever they do next.”

Alexis Durrant, Sustainability Manager at Incommunities, said: “We have a responsibility to deliver a sustainable future for our customers and communities and we were delighted to have Samantha join our team for this project.

“Maximizing the social and environmental benefits of our green spaces is a key part of our future sustainability plans and this work will provide important insights for us for the future.”

Bilal, James and Samantha will submit their final reports in August.

Further information

Image: Adobe Stock

For further details contact Ian Rosser in the University of Leeds press office.