Image of Rueanna Haynes on a poster with blue and green background of natural disaster. Title: Weathering the climate crisis and COVID-19: a perspective from the epicentre of the perfect storm', and date 9September 2021 at 12:00

Even as the developed world makes advances in instantaneous, reliable, COVID-19 testing and detection, vaccine improvements and booster shots, and widespread vaccine uptake, the view from the vantage point of the small and climate vulnerable is considerably less sanguine. The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is well underway, with Barbados already having faced its first hurricane in 65 years by early July. Meanwhile, St Vincent and the Grenadines labours under the impact of an erupting volcano, COVID-19 and intermittent flooding from extreme rainfall. Economies are stretched to the point of near collapse. Vaccine access remains an expensive struggle; and the hope of widespread vaccine uptake a distant dream.

Multiple concurrent and inter-related crises are now a way of life at 1.2°C of warming relative to pre-industrial levels. The world burns as the Amazon continues to shrink and, yet, COP 26 is on the horizon. This could be the world’s last-best chance this decade to keep the 1.5°C temperature limit for the end of the century within reach. There are glimmers of hope on the horizon if the momentum gained from the recent shift by the world’s largest and richest economies to deliver net zero 2050 plans can be maintained. However, it is also clear from the science that near-term action, within the next 10 years, is what will make the crucial difference.

Rueanna Haynes will demonstrate that the state of the world can indeed change to the better through climate diplomacy, solidarity and unity, and that the climate crisis can indeed be abated, drawing on lessons from the pandemic. She will examine the following questions: What does climate action mean in the current circumstances? How should priorities, especially of the vulnerable, evolve to cope with a radically changing and increasingly hostile natural and economic environment? And what are the entry points for meaningful solidarity from the global community at this time?


12.00 –  Welcome note by Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost, Imperial College London and Professor Maggie Dallman, Vice-President (International) and Associate Provost (Academic Partnerships)  

12.10 – Introduction by Grantham’s Chair Professor Sir Brian Hoskins 

12.15 – Ms Rueanna Haynes gives talk  

12.35 – Q&A Chaired by Professor Sir Brian Hoskins 

12.55 – Closing remarks

13.00 – Event ends  



Rueanna Haynes is an experienced international climate law and governance specialist; a TEDx 2020 speaker; Senior Legal Adviser at the not-for-profit think-tank Climate Analytics; and Senior Adviser for the High Ambition Coalition on Climate Change. A former Trinidad and Tobago diplomat, Rueanna has participated in the UN Climate negotiations for just over a decade. During that time, she has been a lead negotiator for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as well as the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). In addition, she has significant experience in other international negotiation processes of key importance to Small Island Developing States (SIDS). These include Sustainable Development, Financing for Development, and the Convention on the Law of the Sea. Rueanna holds a Master’s in International Legal Studies from Georgetown University Law Centre, Washington, DC, US, and a Master’s in International Affairs (Environmental Policy) from Sciences Po, Paris, France.


The Grantham Institute is Imperial College London’s hub for research in climate change and the environment: driving forward discovery, translating innovations into applications and communicating academic knowledge to businesses, industry and policymakers to help shape their decisions.

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This event will be recorded. For inquiries about the event, please contact Hana Amer.

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