The University was granted UN Observer Status for the UN’s Climate Conference, COP26, and sent representatives including the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Judith Petts CBE, Professor Richard Thompson OBE FRS and Professor Deborah Greaves OBE FREng. Areas of University expertise, including offshore renewables, soil erosion, marine microplastic pollution and climate change communication, were the focus of exhibition stands in the COP26 Green Zone, and marine scientist Professor Jason Hall-Spencer was a panellist on an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change session. One of the University’s spinout companies, Smart Applications Management, was commissioned to supply every conference delegate with a single card to enable them to use public transport, in a carbon-saving initiative – a UK first.
Like its support for G7, the University produced a significant array of thought leadership content for policymakers and the media. This was headed by the Vice- Chancellor, who played a lead role in developing a new set of climate commitments, endorsed by 140 UK universities, through her role as Chair of the Universities UK (UUK) Climate Task and Finish Group. Published by UUK, the commitments support government aims to cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 and include a pledge to champion the UN Sustainable Development Goals Accord. It called on the government to match-fund a series of COP26 scholarships and recognise and safeguard the role of universities in climate action. As part of the communication of these commitments, the Vice-Chancellor wrote an opinion piece that was published nationally. COP26 was also used as the launchpad for the University’s campaign on ‘systems thinking’, which included five thought leadership pieces, advertorial in national newspapers and advertising at Glasgow Airport.