Durham University: Reflections on COP26

COP26 has closed and, despite challenges, the Glasgow Climate Pact was reached and the Paris Agreement Rulebook was finalised. Here, we look back at how our researchers engaged with COP26 and how we are supporting world-leading research that is helping to address climate change.

Official confirmation of observer status
We were thrilled to have our application for Observer Status approved during the first week of COP26.

This means we can participate in future meetings and conferences, including future COPs – a great recognition of our valuable contribution to this important field.

Insights from COP26
Over a dozen delegates attended COP26 from Durham University. Our experts hosted events and panel discussions, observed negotiations and showcased some of our incredible research which aims to tackle climate change challenges.

Our Insights from COP26 blog, featured posts from colleagues who were at the summit. Prof Andrew Russell explored the role of activists, the general public and corporations at COP26; and Dr Petra Minnerop wrote about the role of international law and political will in addressing the climate crisis and the significance of finalising the Paris Agreement Rulebook for raising ambition and implementing the Paris Agreement.

Dr Andrew Smallbone reflected on the pathway to net-zero and the role of corporations, policy and research in this.

Finally, Dr Jessica Lehman concluded the blog to reflect on Gender/Science and Innovation day at COP26.

Research to help solve a global challenge
We are home to a range of world-leading research looking at ways to help address climate change and were proud to see this showcased during COP26.

The Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement, undersigned by 46 states at COP26, directly mentioned the work of the Energy Transition Council, of which Dr Petra Minnerop, from our Law School, is the Principal Investigator for the legal part of the research project.

Prof Harriet Bulkeley took part in a number of expert panels at COP26, exploring issues such as urban governance and the importance of nature-based solutions to climate change. Harriet leads an international project called NATURVATION which is focused on how nature can be used to foster urban climate change innovation.

Professors Colin Bain and Ashraf Osman spoke at an event about sustainable African food systems and how best to harness the power of earth, wind, and energy.

Our Durham Energy Institute exhibited in the Green Zone during week two of COP26, highlighting research into decarbonising heat. This innovative research into geothermal energy and using warm water from abandoned coal mines helps to heat homes.

Welcoming leading experts
As well as sending a delegation to Glasgow during COP26 we also hosted a number of activities within our University community to further highlight and engage on issues of climate change.

We were delighted to welcome our alumna, banking pioneer and green business leader Alison Rose, Chief Executive Officer of NatWest and to grant her an honorary doctorate. During her visit Alison took time to hold a roundtable discussion with some of our leading climate change researchers and she gave a special guest lecture to staff, students, and alumni titled ‘Entrepreneurship and the Green Economy’.

We welcomed Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, to Stephenson College to talk about climate change. This was a special opportunity for students to hear from an expert in the field and his talk is available online.

Join the discussion on the road ahead to COP27
At the end of November our Law School is hosting a roundtable discussion on the outcomes of COP26 and the road ahead to COP27, with a global line-up of speakers.

The event, which is open to all, will feature experts in international and environmental law from Africa, Bangladesh, the United States and Singapore, amongst others. It promises to deliver a lively and far-reaching discussion of the outcomes of COP26 was and the challenges that lay ahead for COP27 and the Global Stocktake.

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