The eyes of the world will be on Glasgow in November, as world leaders, journalists and the global environmental policy community come together for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP26.
Thousands of delegates will convene to discuss how best to achieve the ambitious goals set out in the 2015 Paris Climate Accords, including limiting the rise in the global average temperature to well below two degrees above pre-industrial levels.
In addition to the summit of world leaders, the UK Government – as the host country – has announced five conference themes that capture the diverse nature of climate change and identify priority areas for action.
- Adaptation and resilience – to help communities adapt to, and prepare for, the worst impacts of climate change.
- Nature based solutions – to safeguard and restore natural habitats and ecosystems to preserve the planet’s biodiversity.
- Energy transitions – to accelerate the clean energy transition by encouraging the use of cheaper renewables and storage.
- Clean transport – to clean our air by speeding up the global transition to zero emission vehicles.
- Finance – to encourage our financial systems to be cleaner to unlock growth and create green jobs.
A widespread understanding of these issues is essential if world leaders are going to successfully embed the necessary behavioural changes that will limit carbon emissions sufficiently and make a transition to more sustainable ways of working.
Universities have a unique role to play in this effort, providing the research and evidence base to develop innovative solutions to the problems presented by climate change, and raising awareness of the scale of change needed. Research cannot be limited to environment and the life sciences alone. We must take an interdisciplinary approach which also considers the social, economic and psychological aspects of the issues, to gain a comprehensive understanding of climate change and the solutions that can work for everyone in a climate-changed world.
In this series of bite-sized lectures, researchers at the University of Stirling will explain how their research relates to the activities at COP26 and how it will contribute to our future understanding of the impact of climate change. They come from all parts of the University and illustrate the breadth and depth of research which will be needed over the next few years, as action to limit the impacts of global heating enters a critical phase.
I hope you find this insight into the contribution of our researchers both interesting and inspiring. Through building a shared understanding of climate change, we can each do our part to create a cleaner, greener and fairer planet for future generations.
Professor Rachel Norman
Dean for Research Engagement and Performance