Imperial College London

UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt: News from the Imperial delegation

by , , , , ,

People pose in front of a sign saying United Nations Climate Change COP27: Sharm El-Sheikh Egypt 2022

Imperial's Dr Caroline Wainwright (second from right) joins COP27 official event

As the UN Climate Change Conference comes to a close in Sharm El-Sheikh, Imperial staff and students who were at the event share what happened.

This year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt saw challenging negotiations between the world's countries on how to progress international action on climate change.

Imperial College London supported a delegation of academic staff, professional staff and students to attend the two-week summit and provide their expertise and evidence for discussions.

Here is a selection of the activities that Imperial and its partners held at COP27:

Early warnings for climate hazards

Early warning systems are essential for building resilience to climate change. They alert communities to upcoming climate risks – such as floods, droughts, heatwaves, or storms - and help them prepare to act.

That’s why the Grantham Institute collaborated with IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), BBC Media Action, UK Met Office and the Kenya Meteorological Department, to host an official COP27 UN side-event to discuss the role of early warning, anticipatory action and effective communication for resilience building.

"It's really important that future research into early warning systems is driven by what users need," said the Grantham Institute's Dr Caroline Wainwright (pictured above), who spoke at the event. "We need both researchers and users around the table, designing systems together."

The speakers looked specifically at what early warning systems look like and how they can help address vulnerabilities of local communities in Eastern Africa.

The Role of Early Warning, Anticipatory Action and Effective Communication for Resilience Building at COP27.

Watch a recording of the event on YouTube (opens in new window).

Global network on climate change and mental health

The Climate Cares team, led by Dr Emma Lawrance from the Institute for Global Health Innovation (IGHI), were at COP27 to launch COP squared (COP2). This new global network of organisations focuses on how to strengthen people's emotional and mental ability to endure and adapt to the trauma, vulnerability and change caused by our warming planet.

Dr Lawrance poses with a group of colleagues in front of a COP27 sign
Dr Lawrance (first row, right) and colleagues from COP2 at their event in Egypt

Climate Cares is leading the European Hub of COP2, which will collaborate with the World Health Organisation and the UN’s Race to Resilience, among others. It will work to develop tangible policies and actions that decision-makers can take to support mental wellbeing, as the impacts of climate change become more severe.

This network was founded following a recommendation for collaboration between climate change, mental health and emotional wellbeing experts in a briefing by the Grantham Institute and IGHI.

Celebrating 'Biodiversity Day' on social platforms

Grantham Institute celebrated COP27's Biodiversity Day with a spotlight on the linked causes of the climate and biodiversity crisis.

A new briefing paper by research postgraduate Ms Galina Jönsson and Professor Andy Purvis explores how climate change and biodiversity loss are linked and why they must be tackled together.

Animation: How can the world solve the climate and biodiversity crises?

Ms Jönsson says: "People drive both biodiversity loss and climate change, but they also fuel each other. Biodiversity loss is a source of emissions because nature captures and stores carbon. Similarly, climate change is a key driver of global biodiversity loss.

"Solutions to help biodiversity can significantly contribute to climate action, and vice versa. Still, intergovernmental strategies to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss are formulated by separate conventions - the UNFCCC and UN Convention on Biodiversity.

"I call for [their agendas] to be aligned through increased collaboration, to enable a unified approach & deliver efficient policies that simultaneously benefit biodiversity, climate and people."

Uncovering new incentives for early climate action

Tackling climate change isn’t only about reducing greenhouse gas emissions – there are multiple co-benefits for health, nature and the economy.

"The good news is that activities designed to mitigate and adapt to climate change can also bring other benefits, such as for our health,” said Ms Alyssa Gilbert, Director of Policy and Translation at the Grantham Institute, who spoke at an official side-event alongside speakers from pharmaceutical company GSK, the UK Met Office, University of Leeds and the International Red Cross.

One example co-benefit is that, through climate mitigation and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, we also reduce other pollutants like nitrous oxides that are unhealthy for our lungs – a reduction in both is a double-win.

These ‘co-benefits’ can encourage action on climate change from different sectors, as highlighted in a Grantham briefing on co-benefits for local government, and by Imperial's Dr Richard Carmichael who researches how co-benefits can secure systemic level support (PDF).

In introducing this event, the Chair of the UK government's ongoing Net-Zero Review and Conservative MP, Mr Chris Skidmore, announced that he wants to integrate co-benefits into the UK’s climate ambitions.

Watch the event: co-benefits and trade-offs of climate action, uncovering new incentives for early climate action

Watch the event on YouTube (opens in new window).

Redirecting innovation and research for climate action in Africa

In the run up to COP27, scientists from the UK and Egypt worked together to write two policy briefing papers, convened by the Imperial secretariat of the UK Universities Climate Network (UUCN).

These papers looked at climate change and health, and climate change and food security, and were delivered directly to Egyptian policymakers at an event run by the British Council in Cairo in September.

Photo of six people sitting on a stage speaking to an audience, the backdrop says United Nations Climate Change, COP27 Sharm El-Sheikh Egypt 2022
Alyssa Gilbert (left) chairs panel event at COP27 including: Reem Asaad, Vice President - Middle East & Africa, Cisco; His Excellency Prof. Mohamed Ayman Ashour, Egyptian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MHESR); Professor Mohammed Sakr, President of Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT); Dr Mahmoud Mohieldin – UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for Egypt and Dr; Hippolyte Fofack – Chief Economist and Director of Research and International Cooperation at African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) (Credit: Reem Asaad on LinkedIn)

Building on these relationships, Ms Gilbert chaired an event at COP27 to help launch the RE-DIRECT initiative that aims to take research and develop it into practical innovations.

The panellists showed that the commitment to bring innovation and research to bear on climate action in the region extends across sectors from government ministers through to the private sector. This included the contribution that could be made by universities, and how these changes can be supported through investments by multi-lateral development banks.

Dr Hippolyte Fofack (pictured above, far right), Chief Economist and Director of Research and International Cooperation at African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) emphasised the opportunities his organisation are offering in financing transitional energy technologies in the region, and ensuring a just transition.

ActNowFilm2 debuts new intergenerational conversations

The UK Universities Climate Network (UUCN) was proud to support the production and a launch event of the second ActNowFilm at COP27. This short film featured conversations from around the world in which younger and older people share their lived experiences, hopes and fears of climate change. It showed different generations coming together to send a message to COP27 negotiators.

The film, which was produced with the University of Bath Institute for Policy Research and Cambridge Zero, follows on from ActNowFilm, which premiered last year at COP26.

In the film, Omar and Deidre in Trinidad and Tobago are discussing what young people want recognised by policymakers. Deidre says: “We need to change the way we eat, [we cannot] continue to sustain such a large population […] who eat such large quantities of meat. We need to change the way that we travel, there are too many planes, especially short-haul flights that do occur where people could travel in more sustainable ways. More humanitarian aid needs to be given to people who have been affected by climate disasters.”

ActNowFilm2 debuted at COP27

Watch ActNowFilm2 on YouTube (new window).

Accelerating corporate sustainability

Professor Maurizio Zollo and Mr Livio Scalvini, directors of the Leonardo Centre on Business for Society at Imperial, hosted a roundtable discussion for Chief Sustainability Officers from multinational corporations. They discussed the barriers they face to accelerate their corporate sustainability strategies, and how to overcome these challenges using a science-based approach.

Photo shows two men sitting at a table presenting to a group of people
Professor Maurizio Zollo, Scientific Director, and Mr Livio Scalvini, Executive Director, of the Leonardo Centre at COP27

One clear challenge emerged; knowing which sustainability initiatives create the impact companies want to see, what hasn’t worked so well, and why. The Leonardo Centre’s GOLDEN dataset was highlighted as an example of how global corporate sustainability data can provide an evidence base to inform effective sustainability strategies.

Participants called for new, innovative approaches to tackle the barriers preventing transformational change, particularly in the areas of business model innovation and cultural change. The use of experimentation in a corporate setting was explored as a mechanism to understand which sustainability initiatives are effective, while also providing practical learning and knowledge for sustainability managers.

Reporters

Simon Levey

Simon Levey
The Grantham Institute for Climate Change

Click to expand or contract

Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 5650
Email: s.levey@imperial.ac.uk

Show all stories by this author

Charlotte Kincaid

Charlotte Kincaid
Business School

Nicole Kuchapski

Nicole Kuchapski
The Grantham Institute for Climate Change

Dr Neil Jennings

Dr Neil Jennings
The Grantham Institute for Climate Change

Click to expand or contract

Contact details

Email: neil.jennings@imperial.ac.uk

Show all stories by this author

Katrine Petersen

Katrine Petersen
The Grantham Institute for Climate Change

Alyssa Gilbert

Alyssa Gilbert
The Grantham Institute for Climate Change

Click to expand or contract

Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 9665
Email: a.gilbert@imperial.ac.uk

Show all stories by this author

Tags:

Mental-health, Climate-change, Strategy-collaboration, Societal-engagement, Comms-strategy-International-university, Comms-strategy-Real-world-benefits, Research, Strategy-multidisciplinary-research, Government-and-policy, Events, Health-policy, Strategy-decision-makers
See more tags

Leave a comment

Your comment may be published, displaying your name as you provide it, unless you request otherwise. Your contact details will never be published.