RECRUITING: PhD Studentship – accelerating climate mitigation

The Use Less Group has taken a top-down systems approach to revealing and pursuing the interventions that will have a big effect in delivering climate mitigation. For more than a decade, our work examining the drivers of industrial emissions revealing that “material efficiency” is the key to emissions reduction, seemed too far-fetched for an industry focused on volume sales. But now, material efficiency is a mainstream component of mitigation in both industrial and government analyses of climate strategy.

More recently, with the multi-university UK FIRES consortium that we lead, our focus has turned to the fundamental resources on which climate mitigation depends: non-emitting electricity, biomass and carbon capture and storage. All current government and corporate plans depend on these three resources, but their total demand far exceeds not just current supply, but any plausible projection of future supply. We therefore know already that a different approach is required to deliver mitigation, based on delivering the products and services that create great lifestyles with reduced demand for these three constrained resources. While techno-optimistic fiction dominates policy discussion, we are failing to grow the businesses that will thrive in a real zero emissions future.

This PhD will address this problem, add new clarity to the options for mitigation that will really work, and explore new means to ignite real change:

-Using our interactive “calculator” and drawing on our extensive work on innovation opportunities compatible with real zero emissions, you will catalogue and characterise the opportunities for new business growth, looking for key features of the barriers and opportunities for growth

-Based on a small number of well-defined opportunities, you will use focus-groups of relevant industrial and business experts to develop the business-case for entrepreneurial growth

-Out of these focused analyses, you will aim to reveal to government and incumbent industries the means by which they can enable a faster transition to a real zero emissions future.

The focus of this PhD is not about abstract frameworks of thinking, but using action research to explore, characterise and promote the practical mechanisms that accelerate the rapid scalable implementation of climate mitigation.

You will have an excellent degree from a leading university, be able to evidence understanding of real-world implementation, and have the aptitude to apply inter-disciplinary thinking and skills to the practical goals of the project. The Use Less Group is based in Engineering but is highly inter-disciplinary and many of our group have worked for a while before joining us for their PhD. In looking for the right candidate for this role, we are less concerned about the subject of your first degree than your skills in understanding and influencing real change.

The funding is only available for UK and EU students who are eligible for home fees.

To apply, please send your two-page CV and covering letter to [email protected] no later than Monday 7 March 2022.

Your letter should explain why you would like to apply and why you think you are a good fit.

Please note that any offer of funding will be conditional on securing a place as a PhD student. Candidates will need to apply separately for admission through the University’s application portal; this can be done before or after applying for this funding opportunity. Note there is a £75 fee for PhD-applications. The portal can be accessed via:

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

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