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Lead academic: Professor Peter Cox (Climate Systems Dynamics)
Lead academic: Professor Jim Haywood (Atmospheric Science)
UN Sustainable Development Goal
UN Sustainable Development Goal
UN Sustainable Development Goal

Climate Change: Mitigation, adaptation or geo-engineering?

Challenge overview

This is an exciting and thought-provoking challenge, exploring technological and societal challenges, and environmental impacts and implications associated with global climate change.

You will have the opportunity to hear from a range of external experts, including climate change scientists and world-leading academics. Within this challenge, you will work with students from other disciplines in small groups to come up with your own student-led project, which is both creative and scientific, addressing an area of climate change. This could include, but is not limited to, raising education and awareness of climate change, making an impact on climate change locally, or looking at what can be done on a global level to minimise the negative effects of climate change. 

2018 summary

In 2018, academic leads Professor Peter Cox and Professior Jim Haywood appeared alongside speakers, panellists and judges from the Carbon Brief, the Economist and leading experts from the Met Office research team; as well as ‘home grown’ talent from the University of Exeter.

Events included a masterclass on climate communication and debunking climate myths, and a provocative interactive debate on whether society should adapt, mitigate or engineer its way out of the pending global warming catastrophe. 

Students took inspiration from these talks and events when working on their group projects. Each group was set a unique challenge such as creating a video to ‘debunk’ climate change myths and trying to make it go viral, or deciding how $100 billion could best be spent to tackle climate change. One group was tasked with creating an app to engage and educate primary school children on climate change. As part of this, the students visited Bickleigh Primary School to carry out market research, and pitched their final ideas to the school children towards the end of the week.

Students created outputs as part of their projects, and these included videos, posters and app prototypes. On Friday morning, they presented their work to an expert panel and other students on their Challenge. They then showcased it later in the day at an exhibition in the Forum, which was attended by students from all Challenges, University staff and members of the general public.  

Here is the 2018 Climate Change Challenge Timetable

Enquiry groups

Enquiry groups are the subtopic of the challenge that students focus on for Grand Challenges Week. These are the enquiry groups that ran in 2018.

Students will design an educational app to engage primary school children with climate change. Children will help the group define the brief and judge the success of the app!  

Climate engineering, sometimes called geoengineering, is trying to counteract climate change by either sucking carbon dioxide out of the air, or making the planet brighter. Students in this group will look at the pros and cons of this as a technique. 

Debunking myths surrounding climate change. Can you identify the truth and communicate it clearly and engagingly? Students will present this information in a variety of ways. Some students will design a climate change communication campaign that will go 'go viral' on Facebook or Twitter. 

Can we spend our way out of the problem? If Bill Gates gave you $100 Billion to fix the climate, how would you spend it?

Student projects

Student projects from the 2018 Challenge are shown below.

Climate Heroes: An app that is a hero and villian based game, as a fun, engaging way to teach children about sustainability and climate change.

Earth Hero: An interactive app which serves as an educational game to inform children about their impact on the planet and how they can make responsible choices in relation to the environment.

Green is the New Black: Investment plan for allocating $100 billion to tackle climate change. Investment is in four key areas: renewable energy, business investments, reducing food waste and transport


GPSF: Creating a green community to be a place where research can be conducted into relevant renewable technology. Additionally, creating a global partnership for sustainable futures.

Asking the people of Exeter about their knowledge of climate change and debunking common misconceptions and myths.

A board game, to educate children on methods of geoengineering, to help combat climate change in a city environment

GeoCity: Raising awareness about what geoengineering is, and whether or not it's a viable option for the future

Fight the Flood: A board game to educate people about geoengineering, displaying the pros and cons in a fun and informative way

Act: An inspirational spoken word short film attempting to debunk three climate change myths, supported by an academic poster and a digital presentation

Sustain-label: An environmental impact labelling system for food products and ‘sustainable swaps’, stop motion video. The project combats the climate myth that 'one person can't make a difference' by promoting simple lifestyle changes.