Imperial College London

Imperial-led network appoints four research Fellows to inform UN Climate Summit


Secretary of State and COP26 President, Alok Sharma, speaks from a podium in front of a banner reading knowledge is great

Secretary of State and COP26 President Alok Sharma

COP26 President Alok Sharma has welcomed four inspiring projects, whose leaders join a "vital" cross-university climate change network.

A cross-university network has appointed four researchers to underpin UK universities’ engagement with the United Nations Climate Summit (COP26), which is being held in the Scottish city of Glasgow in November 2021.

The four new research projects will focus on youth engagement, local government involvement, financial incentives to promote low-carbon technology and a drive to provide fair access to the benefits of a net-zero society.

The Fellows will be embedded into the activities of the COP26 Universities Network, a group of more than 30 universities run by the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, where they will form the nucleus of a broader programme of coordinated outputs and events by UK universities ahead of COP26.  

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and COP26 President, Alok Sharma, welcomed the appointments and praised the aims of the network.

"I offer my warmest welcome to the new COP26 Fellows and look forward to them bringing their expertise to the work already underway," he said.
"The COP26 Universities Network will play a vital role to inform and communicate the need for meaningful climate action in the run up to the summit."

The opportunity to become a COP26 Fellow, offered through PCAN (the Place-Based Climate Action Network), proved very popular, with 129 applications made through video submissions and an online form.

The four successful Fellows, and their projects, are:

Harriet Thew (University of Leeds): YES TO Net Zero (Youth, Education, Skills and Training to Operationalise Net Zero)

Harriet sets out her proposal, “YES to Net Zero”, which will investigate how young people can contribute to a just transition and green recovery from Covid-19.

Dr Thomas Hale (University of Oxford): From “Groundswell” to “All of Society”: How local governments, business, and civil society can contribute to the implementation phase of the Paris Agreement

Thomas sets out his proposal, "‘Groundswell’ to ‘All of Society’: How local governments, business, and civil society can contribute to the implementation phase of the Paris Agreement”, which will inform policymaking around the future role of sub/non-state actors within the UNFCCC.

Dr Jessica Omukuti (University of York): Making money go further: Scaling climate finance through local delivery

Jessica sets out her proposal, “Making money go further: Scaling climate finance through local delivery”, which will access granular budget data directly from the Green Climate Fund and assess the Fund’s delivery of Climate Finance for Adaptation to local levels.

Dr Rebecca Ford (University of Strathclyde): ALIGN: ALigning Impacts for Getting to Net-zero.

Rebecca sets out her proposal, “ALigning Impacts for Getting to Net Zero”, which will encourage countries to sign up to ambitious NDCs by providing evidence around the multiple benefits of a just Net Zero energy transition.

Alyssa Gilbert, Director of Policy and Translation at the Grantham Institute, said: "We are looking forward to integrating these Fellows, their work and their energy into the heart of the COP26 Universities Network. Their research activities will be shared with others in the universities network, to stimulate our academic communities to get involved in COP26.

"In addition, each of these fellows has clear plans for engaging with decision makers, and these approaches can be amplified and shared by the other engagement activities of the universities network."

The COP26 Fellowships, sponsored by UKRI through the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will support the international climate negotiations through the provision, synthesis, translation and interpretation of scientific evidence.  

"I am delighted with the announcement of the four COP26 Fellowships. These will provide a unique opportunity for the four researchers, each at different stages in their research careers and from different disciplinary backgrounds, to play an active role in COP26," said Professor Alison Park, Director of Research at ESRC.  

"Their work will play an important part in highlighting how UK research and evidence can contribute to collaborative decision making on our international transition to net zero."

Main image: Alok Sharma in Delhi, 29 July 2015. British High Commission, New Delhi (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)



Simon Levey

Simon Levey
The Grantham Institute for Climate Change

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