Edinburgh Impact

Futureproofing societies and the planet

Research into how societies can be more peaceful, just and equitable and how can we ensure life on our planet is thriving several generations from now.

The University is pioneering work in areas such as sustainable urban planning and engineering projects, delivering agenda-setting research into renewables, and offering insights into what makes strong, accessible systems of justice and governance.

Discover how Edinburgh's influence can help shape our future societies and earth's ecosystems.

15-minute cities: separating reality from conspiracy

A colourful neighbourhood street in Paris at sunrise
The idea of neighbourhoods where all services are within a 15 minute walk is being denounced as "Stalinist" by some protesters. How did city planning become the latest conspiracy theory?

Vote earlier in life, vote more often

Two young people voting for the first time outside a polling place in the Scottish Independence Referendum
Supporters of reducing voting ages to 16 say it helps embed the habit of visiting the ballot box earlier in life. New evidence from Scotland suggests they may have a case.

The first Challenger

Illustration of HMS Challenger taking measurement in ocean trench
150 years ago an expedition that became a byword for adventure set sail. It forever changed our relationship with the sea. At its heart was the University of Edinburgh.

Calling time on greenwashing

Person drawing green pollution from a chimney.
If international standards for measuring greenhouse gas emissions are flawed, what does this mean for companies and institutions trying to reduce their footprint?

Climate-friendly cattle

Cows walking and grazing at sunset
Researchers at the University’s Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems are developing bio-economic models to help governments and companies understand the cost-effectiveness of measures to reduce the environmental impact of beef production.

A foundation for progressive youth justice policies

Hooded youth walks past abandoned buildings on waste land
Progressive youth justice policies in Scotland, which have led to the lowest rates of youth conviction and imprisonment since 1972, could go further still, according to the findings of an influential study.

Protecting our pollinators

A bee on a yellow flower
​​​​​​​Found across almost every continent, bees have been pollinating plants for millions of years, but their numbers are dwindling. University of Edinburgh research is working to halt their decline.

The earth-shaking quest to predict the unpredictable

Side profile of Professor Ian Main holding a rock sample that was deformed in the rock lab.
For more than two decades, the University’s Professor Ian Main has been a leading figure in a global movement to develop an earthquake forecasting system that helps authorities manage the risk of natural disasters. Now, the researcher is on a mission to improve the living conditions of marginalised communities in low- and middle-income countries.

A lightbulb moment

Solar lamps provide safe, clean and cheap light in some of the poorest parts of the world, but what happens when they break down? A project in Africa has illuminated how to tackle e-waste.

Signals from a drowning world

Polar bear on ice
Melting ice sheets and glaciers – and the resulting rising seas - are a startling reminder of the rate of climate change. However, measuring ice loss was an inaccurate science... until Edinburgh experts helped change things.

Seeing the woods

Getting a clear picture of how much living matter is in the world's forests and savannas - key data in managing these vital carbon stores - has always been tricky. Satellite technology is changing that.

Breeding planet-friendly cattle

​​​​​​​Agriculture produces a large share of greenhouse gas emissions, with the methane produced by cattle the worst offender. A canny use of data and genetics could help create a new generation of green cows. 

Charging up the road

To help the haulage sector meet climate targets the UK's motorways are being electrified. How do you efficiently wire up a complex road network while keeping on trucking?

Adjusting for humanity’s fingerprints

Six years ago, Professors Gabi Hegerl and Simon Tett’s work to prove human-caused greenhouse gasses are warming our planet underpinned the 2015 Paris Agreement. Today they argue we still aren’t doing enough to adapt to climate change.

Going underground

For decades removing harmful carbon from the atmosphere and storing it safely under the sea was a mere pipe dream. Edinburgh researchers are helping make it a reality.

Harnessing time and tide

Tidal turbines produce green, cheap and plentiful energy from an abundant source. A new partnership can test in a few months how new designs will fare across decades in raging seas. The data-driven approach could provoke a sea change for the industry.

Uncovering the mysteries of the deep

prow of the ship
The health of the world’s oceans might be high on the political agenda, but how do we maintain their wellbeing with so much still unknown about them? Edinburgh researchers have been instrumental in a major project that has shone a light into the depths of the Atlantic.