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Big data applications for understanding climate solutions

Thursday 27 September 2018, 15.30-18.00
Worsley Dental Lecture Theatre (6.142), Level 6 Worsley Building, Clarendon Way, University of Leeds
LIDA seminar

Seminar by the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics in a series showcasing data analytics.


With the international climate change agreement in Paris the world has moved towards an era of climate solutions. Yet, our understanding of how to solve the climate problem is still limited. Part of the problem is our inefficacy in synthesizing the available literature. This task has become a challenge of dealing with “big literature” – a huge and fast-growing number of publications that can no longer be read by individuals. Assessment bodies like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) are at the brink: business-as-usual in manually assessing the available science will ultimately lead to a failure in meeting the organisations’ mandate.

I will outline how data science applications offer a new path to a synthetic understanding of climate solutions and how they can prepare global environmental assessments for the 21st century. The other part of the problem is the large neglect of a whole array of methodologies from the computational social sciences to understand climate solutions. I will explain how those methods can be applied to drill into important questions that have been outside the feasibility frontier of social science research before. Bringing together expertise from the Priestley International Centre for Climate and the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics provides large funding opportunities and would cement the ambition of the University of Leeds to be an international leader on climate solutions and big data.

About the speaker

Jan Christoph Minx, PhD, is Professor for Climate Change and Public Policy at the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds and head of the working group Applied Sustainability Science at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change. He takes an interdisciplinary research approach to issues of energy, climate change and sustainable development with applications to cities and infrastructure, global supply chain networks as well as historic and future transformation processes of societies and their governance. A particular concern is the development of big data applications for research synthesis and global environmental assessments in times of big (i.e. vast and fast-growing) literature. Jan develops and promotes meta-analytical methods in the social sciences and humanities to stimulate systematic learning and studies processes at the science-policy interface.

Before joining the MCC, he was Professor for Science-Policy and Sustainable Development at Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. As Head of the Technical Support Unit of the Working Group ‘Mitigation of Climate Change’ of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) he coordinated the Working Group’s contribution to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report that was published in 2013/2014. He was a senior research fellow at the departments for Sustainable Engineering and the Economics of Climate Change at the Technical University Berlin and the Stockholm Environment Institute.


15.30-16.00- Big Data and Language – Dr Serge Sharoff, Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies

16.00-17.00- Big data applications for understanding climate solutionsProfessor Jan Minx, Priestley Chair of Climate Change and Public Policy, Priestley International Centre for Climate

17:00-18:00: Networking reception with drinks and nibbles hosted in the LIDA staff room

To book please email Hayley Irving with your name, occupation and faculty/organisation.

Image: Prof Jan Minx