Are we really green? Evidence using big data

The Leeds Institute for Data Analytics is pleased to announce the second installment of our new seminar series showcasing data analytics.

This event is being held in association with Sustainability Seminars at the Sustainability Research Institute.

For this event we welcome Professor William Young from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds with an update on the CDRC Ethical and Sustainable Consumption driver project. We also welcome PhD student Miss Rachel Hollis who will discuss the role of data in encouraging individuals to make more environmentally friendly product choices.

Our main speaker will be Dr Anne Owens from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds who will be discussing consumption-based approaches to measuring environmental impacts.

We look forward to seeing you there.


15:15: Registration, LIDA reception, Level 11 Worsley Building

15:30: Prof. William Young – Update on the CDRC Ethical and Sustainable consumption driver project

15:45: Miss Rachel Hollis – Encouraging individuals to choose more environmentally friendly products – the role of data

16:00: Dr Anne Owen – Environmental Footprints: Consumption-based approaches to measuring environmental impacts

17:00: Refreshments and networking with drinks and nibbles.

18:00: Close


A Decision Science Approach to Climate and Energy Solutions

Abstract: Decision science approaches any problem through three interrelated activities: formal analysis of the decision involved, characterizing how thoughtful, well-informed individuals would view it; descriptive research, examining how people actually behave in those circumstances; and interventions, informed by the formal analysis and descriptive research, designed to create attractive options and help decision makers choose among them.  Each activity requires collaboration with technical experts (e.g., climate scientists, geologists, power systems engineers, regulatory analysts) and continuing engagement with decision makers.  Carnegie Mellon’s Behavior Decision and Policy Working Group ( has pursued a decision science strategy in a variety of domains related to mitigating climate change or adapting to its effects, including preparing for sea level rise, adopting smart grid technologies in homes, and investing in energy efficiency for office buildings.  The talk will illustrate the approach through examples of the work.  When successful, decision science can facilitate creating climate- and energy-related policies that are behaviorally informed, realistic, and respectful of the people whom they seek to aid.”

Based on Gabrielle Wong-Parodi, Tamar Krishnamurti, Alex Davis, Daniel Schwartz, and Baruch Fischhoff, “A decision science approach for integrating social science in climate and energy solutions,” Nature Climate Change (in press).

About the speaker: Baruch Fischhoff is Howard Heinz University Professor, Department of Engineering and Public Policy and Department of Social and Decision Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University, where he heads the Decision Sciences major.  A graduate of the Detroit Public Schools, he holds a BS (mathematics, psychology) from Wayne State University and a PhD (psychology) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and has served on many NAS/NRC/IOM committees.  He is past President of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making and of the Society for Risk Analysis.  He chaired the Food and Drug Administration Risk Communication Advisory Committee and has been a member of the Eugene Commission on the Rights of Women, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee and the Environmental Protection Agency Scientific Advisory Board, where he chaired the Homeland Security Advisory Committee.  His books include Acceptable Risk, Risk: A Very Short Introduction, Judgment and Decision Making, A Two-State Solution in the Middle East, Counting Civilian Casualties, and Communicating Risks and Benefits.  He co-chaired two National Academy Sackler Colloquia on the Science of Science Communication, with associated special issues of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  A recent review is Fischhoff, B.  (2015).  The realities of risk-cost-benefit analysis.  Science, 350(6260), 527.

Co-creating frugal innovations for sustainable development in resource-scarce, low-income settings

Can two wicked sustainability problems: extreme poverty and overuse of natural resources be solved simultaneously? At the outset, these objectives appear mutually exclusive as addressing pressing poverty problems such the need for clean water, food, access to energy and decent shelter requires the use of natural resources. The prospect of a solution is further complicated because the likelihood of developed countries sacrificing any of their resource use and consumption for the benefit of poorer parts of the world’s population, seems remote at best.

In the seminar I will discuss frugal innovation as one potential approach to the above. Frugal innovations are resource scarce solutions – anything from products to business models – that are designed under resource constraints, are affordable even for very low-income people, and are good enough to meet the basic needs of individuals and communities which would otherwise remain neglected. Frugal innovations are typically created by local grassroots entrepreneurs or large corporations. I will highlight a third approach – multi-stakeholder co-creation of frugal innovations in resource-scarce settings with low-income communities – and discuss why it makes sense that researchers, students, business firms and NGOs from developed countries participate in such innovation endeavours. I will also highlight sense-making challenges in these multi-stakeholder groups and provide frugal water and energy co-creation examples from our current action research project.

Sustainability Seminars hosted by SRI: The Unrelenting Quest to be a Generalist who is a Specialist of the Whole – Mark Workman


The seminar talk will seek to explain how Mark’s attitude to academic exploration has been shaped by his experiences of working in the British Military on expeditionary combat operations, leading high risk and remote expeditions and running commercial business units in remote and occasionally dangerous parts of the world.

He will then go onto a brief overview of the work that he undertakes alongside the analysis team at the Energy Research Partnership with industry and policy makers on salient energy issues, with the team at the Grantham Institute Imperial College, London on strategic decision tools to address uncertainty, climate change communication around strategic narrative development, resources including Greenhouse Gas Removal technologies, the present initiative to establish a research programme on environmental induced conflict as well as the privileged experiences of working with the students on the Sustainable Energy Futures Course on a wide variety of research themes and the attempts to introduce a soft skills and leadership development component to the course.

About the Speaker

Mark HW Workman is an analyst at the Energy Research Partnership, 11 Princes Gardens, London and an Affiliate Researcher at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, Imperial College, London.

He has undertaken military operational tours and extreme and high risk expeditions all over the world, and worked in West Africa and Emerging Asia running a multi-million dollar business unit of a global medical services and security company. He is developing an expertise in energy systems, innovation, resource constraints, climate change communication, environmental security and conflict.

Dr Katy Roelich is a University Academic Fellow in Climate Change and Energy Policy, jointly appointed between the School of Earth and Environment and the School of Civil Engineering. She co-leads the Energy and Climate Change Mitigation Research Group. Dr Roelich joined Leeds from the Stockholm Environment Institute, where she worked in the field of sustainable consumption and production research, and co-lead the Rethinking Development Theme.

Directions to the Venue

School of Earth and Environment Seminar Rooms (8.119). At the Earth and Environment Reception take the door on the right-hand side. The Seminar Rooms are immediately on the left.

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