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Granthams to fund Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London

27.02.2007
Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham are donating £12 million to establish the Grantham Institute for Climate Change based at Imperial College London, it is announced today (Monday 26 February 2007).

This is the largest private funding given to climate change in the UK and will contribute to the world’s response to climate change by stimulating a research drive to develop mitigation techniques, and by impacting directly on public and private policy.

The donation will create 10 new research posts and provide a dedicated space for the Institute on campus, providing a focus for the scientists already working in this field at Imperial College.

The philanthropic donation is made by the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, established by the Granthams in 1997. The Foundation already supports a number of international and American environmental charities, including The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Oxfam and Environmental Defense.

The donation marks the beginning of a long-term commitment to climate change research, say the Granthams. They hope their donation will motivate others in the financial and business community to support research into the causes, consequences and mitigation of climate change.

Mr Grantham explained his decision to fund the Institute for Climate Change, saying: “Climate change is the most important issue we face over the next fifty years. It is imperative we find technologies that can be implemented in government policies worldwide. I am confident that the Institute for Climate Change will be an idea leader and a strong voice in championing that endeavor.

"Imperial is one of the most respected institutions in the world for scientific study. It not only has world-class facilities and brilliant people but also an unmatched reputation for innovation. It is a great privilege for my wife and me to be associated with such a wonderful and dedicated organization."

Mr. Grantham will sit on the management board of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, along with Imperial’s Rector Sir Richard Sykes who will chair the Board; Carter Roberts, President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund; and Fred Krupp, President of Environmental Defense. Imperial’s Dr Tidu Maini, Pro Rector for Development and Corporate Affairs, and Sir Peter Knight, Principal of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, will also be on the management board.

The Grantham Institute for Climate Change will bring together under one banner, leading researchers from Imperial working across the spectrum of climate change research. Imperial’s combination of research expertise in one place means that it is uniquely placed to provide solutions to the healthcare, environmental and engineering problems caused by climate change, and to influence the international policy makers charged with solving these problems.

Current Imperial research in the field includes:

- public health specialists developing ways to forecast heatwave events and assessing health risks associated with heat stress and climatic change

- engineers identifying feasible flight-planning strategies that would reduce the warming effect of airplane condensation trails on the Earth’s atmosphere

- atmospheric physicists measuring the effect that solar activity has on climate, leading to more accurate climate change models

- civil engineers assessing and mitigating flood risks resulting from climate change - leading to mass migrations in low-lying areas, e.g. Bangladesh; and having severe effects on the global insurance industry through loss and damage claims from storms and floods

The donation will provide funding for new research and 10 additional posts initially, including a Director and a senior post to specifically provide a two-way link between researchers and policy makers, building on the existing work of Imperial’s Centre for Environmental Policy.

Imperial has a strong track record of applying its science to inform policy, with its researchers advising governments and directly informing policy on issues as diverse as climate change and energy, public transport policy, the spread of infectious diseases (including SARS and Avian Bird Flu), and agricultural research policy. Imperial’s dedicated Centre for Environmental Policy (CEP) provides policy analysis informed by science and technology, and incorporates the £1.2 million Technology and Policy Assessment Function of the UK Energy Research Centre. Imperial academics working in the CEP provided reports on low carbon energy technologies to the Prime Minister’s Office, as inputs to G8 strategy development in 2002 and 2004, and the CEP’s Professor Dennis Anderson was Special Adviser to the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change in 2006.

Sir Richard Sykes, Rector of Imperial College London said: “The Grantham Institute will draw on, and expand, the existing expertise base of Imperial's world-leading academics across the entire spectrum of climate change research. Mr Grantham’s vision in making such a generous contribution to the vital climate change work of Imperial, means that our scientists will be able to continue and develop their work to understand and address the greatest challenges facing mankind.”

For more information on Imperial’s Climate Change work and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change go to www.imperial.ac.uk/climatechange

Abigail Smith | alfa
Further information:
http://www.imperial.ac.uk/climatechange

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