Research and education communities urged to unite to tackle global climate challenges

Wind turbine

The University is among four organisations launching a call today at COP26 for collective global action to tackle climate change.

CESAER - the European association of leading universities of science and technology, ISCN - the International Sustainable Campus Network, Science Europe and Strathclyde, want to bring together expertise in the research and education sectors to tackle the net zero emissions challenge.

The four, who are partners of the Science for Net-Zero Symposium at the United Nations climate change conference, aim to boost the contributions of universities and other research organisations towards the world’s aims of hitting carbon reduction targets. The group has set out a vision for collaboration and pledged to adopt the climate change mitigation measures within their own organisations as a show of commitment.

Urgent action

In particular, the group cites the UN Sustainable Development Goal 13, which prompts everyone to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts and calls for dedicated action in six key areas, including developing the next generation of students and researchers for the net zero transition, for participating organisations to reduce their own carbon footprint and improving the shared understanding of what needs to be done.

The call is for universities, national research performing organisations and research funding organisations, to look at how their actions and ambitions around climate change can collectively be upgraded. Organisations that share the vision are invited to join the four and extend collective efforts towards a net zero emissions future and take part in future COP meetings.

Face challenges

Organisations are also urged to face the challenges together by encouraging cross sectoral collaboration with other business sectors, non-governmental organisations, cities and regions, as well as pledging to support the net zero transition at all levels of policy making.

Launching the call from the COP26 site on the Scottish Event Campus, the Presidents and Principal of the four organisations, said:

We share a vision of a world where research and education communities work together to solve urgent global challenges and believe that research and education will underpin a sustainable relationship between the use and preservation of natural resources, and human activity.”

Work together

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said: “Research and education communities have a crucial role to play in delivering net zero, one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Through collaboration and a whole systems-based approach, we can put sustainability at the heart of everything we do and work together to combat climate change,” 

Professor Rik Van de Walle, President of CESAER, said: “We are launching a call to action based on our own commitment for the net zero transition to other partners, leaders, and the broad public, to join efforts towards the most pressing challenge of our time, climate change."

Dr Marc Schiltz, President of Science Europe.“Cooperation is key to addressing the net zero transition. It needs many interdisciplinary research efforts to understand better the way climate phenomena are interlinked and how it will affect our life in the decades to come."

Professor Gisou van der Goot, President of ISCN, said: “We are committed to promoting international collaboration and working to build bridges between our institutions, to deepen our impact and accelerate our efforts toward realising the net zero transition,”