SEE at COP26

Now COP26 is over we look at those involved and the contributions of School of Earth & Environment Staff and students.

Now COP26 is over we look at those involved and the contributions of School of Earth & Environment Staff and students.  But firstly what is it and why were we there?

World governments meet every year to negotiate a response to global climate change. 197 nations and territories, who are signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, are represented at the Conference of the Parties (COP), responsible for reviewing the implementation of the Convention. The United Nations climate change conference has met since 1995 and this year will be the 26th meeting of the COP, hence COP26.

The two-week conference, held in Glasgow, involves around 200 presidents and prime ministers and some 30,000 delegates reporting back on progress since the Paris Agreement and, hopefully, making some new decisions on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impact that climate change is already having.

The School of Earth & Environment is lucky enough to have two COP26 Research fellows; Harriet Thew and Stephen Whitfield, Associate Professor in Climate Change and Food Security. 

Harriet's fellowship is titled: YES TO Net Zero (Youth, Education, Skills and Training to Operationalise Net Zero).  At COP26 Harriet was talking about the exciting youth-led project she's been working on with young people in the UK and South Africa this year. 

Stephen Whitfield's COP26 Fellowship is on just and equitable governance of agriculture transformations.  He set up an exhibit with a policy brief and multiple videos from stakeholders and convened an event as well as sitting on a panel "Developing climate resilient food systems pathways - approaches from sub-Saharan Africa".

Also attending from SEE was our Nobel Prize winner, Piers Forster, who appeared not rest during his time at COP26, attending and presenting at the conference by day and by night producing an analysis of the days discussions!  The IPCC’S SIXTH ASSESSMENT REPORT (AR6) author was attending COP26 to represent CONSTRAIN the HORIZON 2020 Consortium.  CONSTRAIN was involved in several events at the climate summit, covering topics from climate model emulators and the role they played in the IPCC’s sixth assessment report (AR6) through to our chances of staying within 1.5°c of warming, and looking forward to the upcoming 2023 global stocktake.

Overall SEE had nearly 40 delegates at COP26 including students, academics and support staff contributing to over 40 events and exhibitions covering a diverse range of topics; the role and expectations of young people, just transitions in agriculture, transport decarbonisation, universal energy access, peatland preservation, Antarctic ice loss, and much more!