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The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26)

The UN Climate Change Convention, held in Glasgow 1-12 November 2021, represented the largest, global coming together to address climate change. The COP26 summit brought parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on climate change.

COP26 Universities Network

We are proud to be part of the COP26 Universities Network, a growing group of more than 55 UK-based universities and research centres working together to raise ambition for tangible outcomes from the UN COP26 Climate Change Conference. 

Its mission is to ensure that the UK academic sector plays our role in delivering a successful COP26, in order to deliver a zero-carbon, resilient world. We aim to do so by easing access to evidence and academic expertise for COP26 for government, NGOs, and other actors, and by taking action.

Visit the official COP26 Universities Network website for more information

Plymouth's lead role in national Climate Commission

Professor Judith Petts CBE, Vice-Chancellor of the University, is one of four sector leaders heading up the Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education Leaders. Officially launched in November 2019, the Commission is a partnership between EAUC (the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges), the Association of Colleges, Guild HE and Universities UK. It enables universities and colleges to work together in an unprecedented way to tackle the climate crisis, and works with students, UK government, regulatory bodies and sector agencies. Professor Petts represents the University and also serves as the Universities UK Commissioner.

Find out more about our commitment to the national Climate Commission

Professor Petts is chairing an upcoming Universities UK conference entitled Universities and the climate emergency: action following COP26. Judith chairs UUK’s climate and sustainability work, and the conference – covering topics ranging from internationalisation to climate literacy – takes place on 26 and 27 January.

More information about the conference

Plymouth's pioneering research

Richard Thompson, Plymouth Pioneers

Professor Richard Thompson OBE: “Since the 1950s, plastics have been increasingly used in all kinds of products because of their practicality and durability. However, it is those qualities creating the global environmental crisis we see today.”

Deborah Greaves, Plymouth Pioneer

Professor Deborah Greaves OBE: “To realise the potential of offshore renewable energy, and maintain the UK's leading position in this field, the sector needs to address significant challenges that can only be achieved through a coordinated response.”

Professor Kerry Howell, Plymouth Pioneer

Professor Kerry Howell: “If you go back to the 1800s it was thought the deep seas contained no life at all and the fact remains that most of our deep sea knowledge is only decades old and less. We have huge holes to fill, and very little time to do it.”

Professor Gerd Masselink

Professor Gerd Masselink: “If human-induced climate change is responsible for the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme winter storms, we need to seriously start thinking about decreasing our vulnerability to such events.”

Alison Raby, Plymouth Pioneers

Professor Alison Raby: “Lighthouses are truly iconic structures, but if they are to continue to provide a valuable physical visual aid, we need to understand how their longevity might be affected by the battering they receive from the waves.”

Will Blake Plymouth Pioneers

Professor Will Blake: "Every year 12 million hectares of productive land are lost to soil erosion globally. Unless we take action now, communities who rely on the land for their survival will be left facing an increasingly uncertain future.”

Plymouth Perspectives: examining the evidence for global action

Plymouth researchers, leaders in their fields, offer their expert perspectives on the transdisciplinary systems thinking approach that is vital to tackle the climate emergency. From marine litter to soil erosion, ocean acidification to offshore renewable energy, they provide evidence for global action.

We need a whole-systems approach


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COP26 news

Carbis Bay, St Ives, Cornwall
Slow progress on buffer zones designed to restrict coastal development

New research shows that since CCMAs were introduced in 2012, only 15% of coastal planning authorities in England have designated one

19 November 2021

Expert interview: including the ocean in discussions at COP26

Professor Jason Hall-Spencer, leading expert in the impact of climate change on the health of the sea, shares his findings on the catastrophic results of the destruction of our marine environments and his hopes for the outcomes of future COP conferences. 
"The important thing we need to do is value the ocean a lot more – it needs to be shouted from the rooftops... because it feels like it's hardly being mentioned."

COP26: Did world leaders get their priorities right?

The 2021 conference broke new ground but world leaders are still trying to solve climate change in the context of other priorities. Professor Ian Bailey assesses the opportunities lost and maximised at the conference and how the agreements reached might be translated into national policy actions.

Read this expert opinion piece on the COP26 conference

COP26 flag: UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 in Partnership with Italy

Universities and the climate emergency: action following COP26

In the wake of COP26, it is more evident than ever before that the world needs to take radical action to tackle the climate crisis.

But what further steps can universities take? How can they decarbonise their campuses in the short-term while building credible and ambitions plans to tackle Scope 3 emissions in the long-term? And how can they work with government effectively to ensure that the sector gets the support it needs to achieve this?

A two-day, online conference held 26-27 January 2022 will be exploring these issues in-depth. On day one Professor Petts, as Chair for the Climate Task and Finish Group, will give the welcome and opening address.
group of people holding plants growing out of soil. getty image
Planet Earth in space. Globe in galaxy. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

Planet Earth in space. Globe in galaxy. Elements of this image furnished by NASA