About the GW4 Climate Alliance

Our Challenge

Climate change is already having visible effects on the world as the earth warms, rainfall patterns change, and sea levels rise. These changes to the climate systems are projected to have catastrophic effects on global society and biodiversity.

Climate change threatens the essential ingredients of human life including clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food supply, and safe shelter. According to the World Health Organisation, between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year from climate-sensitive diseases such as malnutrition, malaria, and heat stress. Human migration will be increasingly influenced by climate change as many parts of the world become more challenging places to live, due to coastal erosion and sea level rises, flooding, drought, air pollution, heatwaves and wildfires. The effects of climate change also heighten competition for resources such as land, food and water, threatening international stability and peace.

Our Response

The GW4 Climate Alliance provides an umbrella for collaborative, long-term, inter-disciplinary research effort across the four partner institutions. Our goal is to understand the impact of climate change on socio-economic systems, and work with our communities to reconfigure these systems and develop transformational solutions to climate change. 

In May 2019, the UK Government became the first nation to declare a climate emergency. GW4 is the only regional alliance where all institutions have declared a climate emergency and announced aims and action plans to become carbon neutral by 2030. These declarations underpin our distinctiveness and confirm our combined strong and positive commitment to act on climate change as a partnership.


Our approach, reflects the broad and long term challenge of climate change. We work across 5 interconnected themes:

  • Health
  • Energy and Carbon
  • Mobility
  • Food
  • Urban, Rural and Coastal Land Use

These areas are not prescriptive, and our community includes researchers working across all aspects of the climate challenge. We  focus on transformative systems responses, defining systems-level approaches with our stakeholders and incorporating governance perspectives. Most of our themes emphasise climate adaptation and resilience, though many also include mitigation efforts.

The GW4 Accelerate to Net Zero transformational project brings together GW4 researchers, government, industry, and communities to better understand the challenges and priorities faced by different sectors in our region, and identify opportunities to collaborate on innovative solutions. GW4’s regional diversity provides a unique opportunity to explore and test equitable transitions to net zero. Applying a whole systems approach, the project will focus on key themes in which GW4 has internationally competitive and complementary strength across the universities – energy, transport, land use and food. As a living lab testbed for energy, transport, land use and food transitions the project will explore interdependences and opportunities that can be applied across the UK and beyond to accelerate to net zero.

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven stronger ambitions for a green recovery. Organisations are calling on government to ‘build back better’ by aligning the recovery efforts from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis to climate science, to boost resilience and help accelerate action to tackle climate change. This reinforces the need to look to a systems approach to understand the impacts on climate change of these ‘green’ effectors to recovery.

Tackling the global challenge of climate change will require the involvement and expertise across all disciplines, so we encourage all those with an interest to get in touch