Five things we learned from Oxford Martin School research in 2019

19 December 2019

OMS Prof Nick Bostrom by John Cairns 13 10 14 83
© David Fisher

Find out more about the five stories in our 2019 round-up video through the links below:

1 - Just 13 out of the largest 132 coal, electricity, and oil and gas companies have made commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to net zero, according to research published by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, the Oxford Martin School, and the Transition Pathway Initiative.

2 - Analysis by researchers from the Oxford Martin School and the University of Minnesota, published in the journal PNAS, identified a range of ‘win-win’ foods that both improve human health and have a low impact on the environment. Foods associated with improved health (whole grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and some vegetable oils high in unsaturated fats, such as olive oil) have among the lowest environmental impacts. Foods with the largest negative environmental impacts—unprocessed and processed red meat—were consistently associated with the largest increases in disease risk.

3 - The concept of equilibrium is the basis of many economic models, including models used by policymakers on issues like monetary policy, climate change, trade policy and the minimum wage. A paper published in Science Advances showed that when a game gets complicated this assumption is problematic. If these results carry over from games to economics, this raises deep questions about economic models and when they are useful to understand the real world.

4 - In a commentary in the journal Science, researchers from the Oxford Martin Programme on the Post-Carbon Transition proposed a new approach to designing climate interventions to take advantage of socio-economic and political tipping points. They highlight real-world social, political and economic situations in which a small action can trigger rapid or dramatic change. Past examples suggest that policies that deliver a ‘shift or kick’ to the right system at the right ‘sensitive intervention point’ can significantly alter the climate-change trajectory.

5 - In collaboration with OceanMind and the Ascension Island Government researchers from the Oxford Martin Programme on Sustainable Oceans trialled the use of satellite monitoring technologies to support patrol vessel operations. It showed high levels of compliance with protected area borders, suggesting a large marine protected area could be a success.