Social Responsibility and Sustainability

The University of Edinburgh at COP 26

Find out how the University of Edinburgh will contribute to COP 26, building on our contributions to previous COPs.

University staff with representatives from Ecuador at the COP 25 conference in Madrid, December 2019.
University staff with Minister-President of the Galápagos Governing Council, Norman Wray, to launch the zero-carbon vision for the Galapagos Islands, at COP 25 in Madrid, December 2019.

The University of Edinburgh contributes to annual COPs in three main ways: by presenting research, by observing negotiations, and by analysing the discussions for various audiences.

Follow the University's involvement in COP 26 using the hashtag #EdinUniCOP26.

COP26 Universities Network

In 2020, the University became a member of the COP26 Universities Network: a group of over 40 UK Universities working together to assist all COP decisionmakers to stay on track to deliver a low-carbon, resilient world by easing access to evidence and academic expertise and taking action themselves.

Read COP26 University Network briefings

Listen to "The Climate Papers" podcast


Our wide array of climate change-related research means much of our interaction at COPs is focussed on side-events and particular research initiatives and collaborations. These include enhancing resilience of vulnerable areas and sectors, cutting emissions from fossil fuel combustion and land use change, and climate change interactions with major ecosystems and biomes, such as the oceans.  For the COP, a significant role for us is to help ensure that the latest relevant research findings are summarised in ways that will support the negotiators to make the bold commitments that are needed.

Observing negotiations

As observers at the COP our main interaction is simply to be able to observe international negotiations and give students and staff the opportunity to experience the process in the so-call ‘blue zone’ where these negotiations take place. Some of our alumni are involved directly in these negotiations, representing specific nations. More widely, we use the COPs as a basis to reflect on what international climate policy means for the advice we give to the UK and Scottish Governments, as well as to city level initiatives and for our own institution of course.

Observer passes

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are able to apply for observer passes so they can attend the conference. Every year a number of University staff and students attend in this way; it’s a great way to understand the workings of a COP and meet individuals from across the world.


Much of our analysis of COPs is focussed on their implications for the UK and Scotland. The many side events also give us an opportunity to assess where new research and teaching partnerships could be developed and where the University of Edinburgh can have the greatest positive impact both locally and globally on climate change.


University involvement in previous climate COPs

We have been an official observer organisation for the UNFCCC and the climate COPs since COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009. At COP 15 our large delegation included staff, students and alumni from right across the University and we worked closely with Scottish Government and the British Council to inform state and sub-national leaders on solutions through capacity building and international perspectives.

Watch this video of the presentation made by University of Edinburgh students to leaders at COP 15.

Since COP 15 we have had delegations attending all the annual COPs, giving staff and students the opportunity to experience the negotiations, participate in side events, and to build new partnerships. Find out how staff, students and alumni contributed to COP 25 in 2019.

Find out more

If you have any questions regarding the University's involvement in COP26 or our own COP26 activities, please email

The University's response to the climate crisis

The climate crisis is one of the most pressing issues facing humanity, and the University is committed to continuing to play a leading role in creating a more sustainable world through its research, teaching and operations.

Find out more about how the University is working to tackle climate change as part of its social and civic responsibility.

University response to the Climate Crisis

Strategy 2030: Social and Civic Responsibility

UN Sustainable Development Goals

Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation