University of Glasgow: From The Clyde To ‘Citizen Scientists’: New Competition Celebrates Innovative Projects Tackling Climate Change

Twelve partnership teams, including one led by UofG academics, will showcase innovative projects tackling climate change in a live final at COP26, the United Nations Climate Change conference in Glasgow.

The Climate Challenge Cup is a new international competition celebrating civic research partnerships that are helping communities adapt to extreme weather events, such as flooding and heatwaves, or helping reduce carbon emissions to achieve ‘net zero’ targets.

The Young Foundation is leading the delivery of the Challenge in the UK. CEO Helen Goulden said: “I’m excited to host the Climate Challenge Cup innovation showcase and awards at COP26. We can’t fight the climate crisis in silo. It’s important to enable innovation partnerships between universities, civic bodies and communities to avert a climate catastrophe.”

“The presence of locally-focused and locally-led projects as part of the official COP26 programme sends the strong signal that trusting, meaningful partnerships between communities, researchers, and local government can have direct, innovative impact,” said Kimberly Lucas, Interim Executive Director at MetroLab Network who are delivering the Challenge in the US.

Shortlisted projects include a team led by academics from the University of Glasgow who are looking at the industrial legacies of the River Clyde and how to preserve it as an environmental asset in the future.

The UofG cross-disciplinary team, led by the School of Education’s Dr Ria Dunkley, is called Hidden environmental histories of the River Clyde.

Dr Dunkley said: “We are delighted to have been shortlisted in the Climate Challenge Cup along with teams from across the UK and USA. It is wonderful to be able to highlight our work on the international stage during COP26.

“Glasgow and the River Clyde were synonymous with an industrial heritage that produced world class ships sold around the globe. Our project is helping to map the legacies of empire and industry on the River Clyde and its communities in terms of contemporary environmental and social injustices.

“We have working with local communities along the River Clyde to engage them in conversations about and action to address climate change and environmental challenges within the City of Glasgow. In doing so, we aim to find solutions as a city, interfacing with wider global society to the tackle the issues of climate change, biodiversity loss and widespread social injustice.”

The Climate Challenge Cup final will include a panel discussion about the opportunities and challenges faced by civic organisations, communities and researchers in the UK and US tackling climate change. Speakers include Dr Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Labs, the largest climate tech startup incubator in North America; and Daze Aghaji, a young UK climate activist. Helen Goulden will Chair the event.

Professor Alex Halliday, Founding Dean of Columbia University Climate School and Director of The Earth Institute, and one of the Cup judges said: “The climate crisis demands innovative solutions developed as partnerships between researchers, businesses, decision makers and communities. The Climate Challenge Cup is a great way to focus attention on some of these breakthrough ideas.”