University at the heart of key climate summit

An expert-led discussion about green jobs, the launch of a new pledge to protect the oceans and sessions exploring the power of compassion are among dozens of events involving the University at COP26.

Stock image of a person holding the Earth

Members of the University community are participating in more than 70 events at the United Nations climate change summit, which takes place in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November.

It brings together 197 nations and territories in efforts to speed up action towards meeting the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to preferably no more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

Edinburgh scheme

On the eve of COP26, the University will launch the Edinburgh Earth Initiative, an ambitious framework to help find solutions to the impacts of climate change.

Drawing on the University’s expertise across numerous disciplines, the initiative will focus on the future of energy, sustainable lands and seas, health in a warmer world and socially just transitions.

It will act as a focal point for the University’s world-leading teaching and research on climate, and will have an emphasis on supporting global partnerships to deliver climate solutions.

The launch event will take place at a reception in the University’s Playfair Library on Saturday 30 October.

Ocean protection

On Sunday 31 October, the first day of COP26, the University will host a launch event for a new declaration by the Because the Ocean Initiative, which aims to help minimise the effects of climate change in the ocean.

Originally launched at COP21 in Paris, the international scheme has sought to improve ocean conservation and protection by calling for greater consideration of them in climate change policy.

The new declaration will be launched at a VIP event at the University.

Compassionate thinking

The University will host a day of discussion and debate on Friday 5 November focusing on the role of compassion in the global response to climate change.

Professors Liz Grant, Dave Reay and Shannon Vallor join a high-profile list of speakers at Realising a Compassionate Planet, which also features journalist Allan Little and renowned conservationist Dr Jane Goodall.

The event, co-hosted by Stanford University, will explore how channelling the motivational power of compassion can help to change our relationship with the planet.

Africa links

On Saturday 6 October, leading UK and African experts from government, higher education, industry and intergovernmental bodies will examine how education and skills can help to meet climate goals.

The event will explore visions of how to deliver on goals set out at COP26 and building towards COP27, which takes place in Africa, by developing the skills and knowledge to support the green transition to a more sustainable, equitable and prosperous future.

It will also assess the role of the different bodies at the event in turning vision into action.

Green careers

An event examining the importance of education, training and employment in delivering a resilient and equitable transition to net zero will take place in the COP26 Green Zone on Sunday 7 November.

Green Career Pathways will feature a keynote presentation by the Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Higher and Further Education, on the role of education and skills in UK and global climate action.

An expert panel chaired by Professor Dave Reay will explore the challenges and opportunities of green career pathways, before taking questions from in-person and online audience members.

Diverse involvement

Elsewhere, the University’s Centre for Business, Climate Change, and Sustainability (B-CCaS) is hosting a series of curated events focusing on the intersection of climate issues with society, business and policy.

Dr Sian Henley will be involved in several sessions on Arctic climate and ocean change taking place in the summit’s Blue Zone, the UN-managed space that will host high-level negotiations.

Ulfath Ibrahim, who will graduate from the University with her MSc in International Development in November, is one of the COP26 climate negotiators for the Republic of Maldives.

Edinburgh is also part of the COP26 Universities Network, a group of more than 80 UK institutions working to ensure that the academic sector plays its role in delivering a successful COP26. It aims to forge lasting partnerships, improve access to evidence and expertise and take direct action.

These are just a few examples of the many interventions, involving our students and staff.  Full details of COP26-related events taking place on the University campus and beyond are available here:

Edinburgh commitment

The University has set itself ambitious targets for making strong and lasting contributions to addressing climate change, including a commitment to becoming a net zero institution by 2040.

Meeting these ambitions we will involve taking action on research, learning and teaching, operations, responsible investment, and investigating opportunities in renewable energy.

The COP26 summit is a key moment for the global community to come together to assess progress towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. It will be a time for reflection and increased commitment to specific and collaborative action. The scale of the University’s involvement demonstrates its status as a trusted partner at the highest levels, and our commitment to working with others to bring about actions to make the world a better place.

Professor Sandy TudhopeUniversity Lead on Climate Responsibility and Sustainability

Related links

COP26 and the University of Edinburgh

Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Image credit: ipopba via Getty Images