United Kingdom officials hosted the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021. In agreeing the Glasgow Pact, nations committed to maintain collaboration and deliver new commitments, based firmly on science. Amid growing calls for fair futures for women and children, and justice for the Global South, Indigenous peoples and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), much is still required to secure action on adaptation, vulnerability and climate finance. The Grantham Institute continues to work with UK’s COP26 President Alok Sharma MP and others to maintain momentum ahead of the Egyptian-led COP27 in 2022 and deliver support for the most vulnerable countries and their people.


Five people standing in a line - representatives of the UK Universities Climate Network at the Egypt Embassy

UK academic expertise united

Grantham Institute created and led the COP26 Universities Network, to engage with the COP26 Presidency, delivering input on education and skills for a net-zero and resilient future, training public engagement ambassadors and more. The cross-network Find an expert webpage helped UK and international policymakers and media identify top experts to answer key urgent issues. In 2022, the rebranded UK Universities Climate Network (UUCN) continues this collaborative model, including sharing experiences with the Egyptian academic sector ahead of COP27.

WATCH: Universities network experts explain the link between health and climate change

[Image credit: UK Universities Climate Network]

Two students presenting at an event, next to a big screen, viewed from the audience

Global university alliances strengthened

The Grantham Institute, Cambridge Zero and Italian partner Italian Universities Network for Sustainable Development (RUS), delivered a 5-day science and policy conference, Climate Exp0. Five UK and Italian Ministers of State and over 700 presentations attracted 5,300 attendees from 150 countries. With the Tsing-Hua University-led Global Alliance for Universities on Climate (GAUC), we delivered the Climate-X student hackathon where 41 students from six countries formed mixed teams competing to develop new climate change solutions, with winners’ medals presented in Glasgow.

EXPLORE: Competition winning solutions from international students

[Image credit: Global Alliance for Universities on Climate]

Close up view of a crowd of climate protesters

Engagement received UK support

Government support through UK Research and Innovation allowed the Grantham Institute-led universities network to appoint five COP26 Fellows, whose research informed core messaging and influenced national discourse on climate finance, net-zero strategy, youth engagement, non-state actor engagement and agriculture. Together, 100 university experts from the network published 12 briefing papers that were developed and disseminated collaboratively with UK government and other key stakeholders.

EXPLORE: COP26 Universities Network Briefings

[Image credit: Linh Do (Flickr). Licensed under CC-BY 2.0.]

Two members of the public talking to someone behind a stand in an exhibition space at the climate summit

Experts engaged public nationwide

The universities network trained 60 new Climate Engagement Ambassadors to facilitate learning and understanding between experts and the public. Led by University of East Anglia and University of Bristol, the network’s exhibition stand hosted five different public activities each day for two weeks in the Glasgow Science Centre. Glasgow was also among seven UK cities painted with street murals inspired by vital local biodiversity, inspired by winning entries to the Grantham Climate Art Prize 2021.

WATCH: Climate science 101 - animation to communicate climate science to the public

[Image credit: Place-Based Climate Action Network]

A view from behind the cameras, as Alyssa Gilbert is interviewed by a reporter at the climate summit

Experts went on the record

Co-hosted by Grantham Institute’s Alyssa Gilbert, The Climate Papers series with podcasters Planet Pod interviewed up-and-coming experts from UK universities on science and policy issues influencing COP26 discussions. Thousands listened to the daily COP Conversations podcast by university network partners, University of Strathclyde, and a video series, Voices from Glasgow, by University of the West of Scotland film students. Grantham Institute’s postgraduate researcher delegates also reflected on their experiences at COP26 in a short film.

WATCH: Imperial students reflect on COP26

[Image credit: Samantha Ibbott]

Two cyclists with their bikes, in full rain gear, by a signpost welcoming you to Glasgow

Imperial delegates in Glasgow

Imperial led a delegation of students, academics and technicians as official observers to COP26, furthering their research and interests in climate policy. Professional staff facilitated a programme of communications, partnership events and engagement on: the role of climate science with the Met Office; a fair and inclusive net-zero transition with LGBT Youth Scotland; an innovation showcase with the Rothamsted Research, Swansea University and UCL, action for biodiversity and climate and solutions for eco-anxiety and environment with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) at COP26’s Resilience Hub.

EXPLORE: Imperial College London at COP26

[Image credit: Nick Reynard]