Meeting the goals of COP26: priorities, challenges and opportunities

Image credit: Dr Sally Rangecroft

10 Nov 2021, 14:00–16:00
Online delivery
The Centre for Research in Environment and Society (CeRES) at the University of Plymouth combines expertise spanning both physical and social sciences within an inclusive, interdisciplinary research environment. 
To coincide with COP26 activities in autumn 2021, CeRES hosted an online event to showcase research conducted by our community that aligned with the COP26 goals, and discussed the challenges of and possible solutions to the climate crisis identified by these projects. The staff and students in our centre apply innovative methods and approaches to research on society-environment interactions, environmental governance, and past, present and future environmental processes and change.
Our afternoon of talks and discussion explored how four projects conducted by CeRES researchers contributed towards the goals of COP26, touching upon key conference themes including: energy; nature; adaptation, loss and damage; science and innovation; and transport. 


14:00 | Welcome and introduction by Dr Caroline Clason, Associate Professor of Glaciology and co-lead for the Centre for Research in Environment and Society
14:05 | Delivering sustainable transport at COP26 by Dr Andrew Seedhouse, Director of Transport at the Institute for Sustainability Solutions Research (ISSR)
14:25 | Glacier retreat and water, food and energy security in Peru by Dr Sally Rangecroft, Research Fellow in Peruvian Glacier Retreat
14:45 | Biostabilisation of sediments for erosion reduction by Dr Robert Schindler, Research Fellow (Innovation)
15:05 | If you will the end, you must will the means: COP26 and national climate change acts by Professor Ian Bailey, Professor of Environmental Politics
15:25 | Q&A opportunity for open discussion with all of our speakers
15:55 | Closing remarks by Dr Caroline Clason

Our speakers

Our first speaker, Dr Andrew Seedhouse, talked about how we can deliver sustainable mobility in a neo-liberal operational environment. 

Andrew’s presentation case studied the COP26 Glasgow conference as a microcosm of the challenges and opportunities of reducing transport carbon emissions, and detailed the lessons learned for global improvement in transport governance.

Dr Sally Rangecroft then took us on a journey to the Peruvian Andes, where there is an urgent need to adapt to changing water resources in response to the warming climate and associated glacier retreat. With ongoing negative impacts on water, food, and energy security, in addition to associated impacts for both livelihoods and the natural environment, 

Sally discussed why it is important to research both natural and anthropogenic pressures on resource security through an interdisciplinary approach, and outline potential solutions to current bottlenecks in policy.

Our third speaker, Dr Robert Schindler, outlined a new method of reducing sediment erosion in marine, coastal, and fluvial environments. Increasingly we are harnessing the Blue Economy for sourcing power and food resources. As we expand our use of the seabed, and look to protect our coastline, we need sustainable methods of protecting infrastructure that limit the ecological and environmental impact of hard engineering. Dr Schindler is investigating the potential for artificially ‘biostabilising’ sediments to produce natural, highly resilient substrata. This new approach uses manufactured biopolymers to mimic the biological cohesion that is typically found in estuaries. Biostabilised sediments can be used to assist or replace traditional, hard-engineered erosion prevention methods, which are both economically and environmentally costly. 

Finally, Professor Ian Bailey discussed how climate change acts (CCAs) have emerged as a popular tool for ensuring consistency of national climate policies with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The effectiveness pf CCAs remains dependent on their ability to influence the design and ambition of subsidiary climate policies in areas such as renewable energy and emissions pricing, and this talk examined the challenges facing CCAs, drawing on evidence from attempts to reform the New Zealand emissions trading scheme following the introduction of the Zero Carbon Act in 2019. New Zealand’s experiences, although distinctive in some respects, provides broader lessons on the opportunities for, and constraints on, the ability of CCAs to provide an essential anchoring point for the development of net-zero national climate policies.


Our University of Plymouth contributors

Supporting COP26 – UN Climate Change Conference 2021

The University of Plymouth is proud to be part of the COP26 Universities Network, collaborating with over 40 other universities across the UK to help deliver a successful COP26. 

The network is 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 ensured that the UK academic sector played its role in delivering a successful COP26, in order to deliver a zero-carbon, resilient world.

Discover how the University supported COP26

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