UEA among top universities urging G20 leaders to prioritise net zero emissions

Published by  Communications

On 18th Nov 2020

Globe with ClimateOfChange and ClimateUEA logos

The University of East Anglia (UEA) is part of an international coalition of leading climate research universities urging world leaders to prioritise net zero emissions ahead of the G20 Summit this week. 

The International Universities Climate Alliance member universities span all populated continents, representing one-third of the 100 highest performing climate research universities and a quarter of the top 100 environmental research universities worldwide.

Its first Declaration implores world leaders to use the post-COVID recovery to implement measures to counteract climate change, warning that failure to do so will lock in catastrophic consequences for generations to come.

The Declaration comes ahead of the Prime Minister's announcement today (Wednesday 18 November) that new cars and vans wholly powered by petrol or diesel will be banned from being sold in the UK from 2030.

UK climate experts, including those at UEA, have a long history of supporting national and international decision-makers with the evidence-base for climate action, with contributions to United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, UK Climate Change Risk Assessments, UK carbon budgets and regional climate assemblies.

The Climate Alliance was founded in April 2020 by UNSW Sydney, in Australia, in partnership with 48 universities. It is unprecedented in scale and scope and will support world leaders, policy makers and industry in planning for, and responding to, climate change.

The Declaration will be launched at an online media event at 10am today (Wednesday 18 November) and will feature a panel of speakers from some of the UK Universities involved, including UEA.

UEA Vice-Chancellor Prof David Richardson said: “At UEA we’ve helped to pioneer climate science research and the chance to work alongside other leading universities in this field, both in the UK and around the world, is a great opportunity, once again putting us at the heart of the fight against climate change.

“I look forward to working with our many partners as part of the International Universities Climate Alliance and I believe our collective voice can play a key role in influencing the way leaders and policymakers across the globe tackle the climate crisis.”

The advent of the Climate Alliance comes at a time when momentum is building for countries to decarbonise their economies. In recent months there have been moves by various nations to fortify incremental efforts with policies and actions equal to the urgency of the situation.

Ahead of the COP26 negotiations, which take place in Glasgow in November 2021, UEA has launched its Climate of Change campaign, highlighting the University’s role as a key participant in the UK’s climate emergency conversation.

From the creation of the School of Environmental Sciences in 1967 and the setting up of the Climatic Research Unit in 1972, through to the launch of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in 2000, and their role in the new Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations, UEA researchers have broken new ground in understanding the global climate system and its implications for society - and continue to do so.

Prof Konstantinos Chalvatzis, Academic Chair for ClimateUEA, the University’s umbrella initiative for climate research, is part of the Declaration launch today.

He said: “UEA is proud to join in this International Universities Climate Alliance call for post-COVID recovery actions to invest in building climate resilience. It is more relevant than ever for the G20 countries as they are the main energy users and polluters in the world. We have now the tools necessary to build carbon neutral, thriving economies by making appropriate choices."   

The Climate Alliance will provide a central hub for universities to share the latest climate research and enable greater collaboration between leading research teams.

Prof Ian Jacobs, President and Vice-Chancellor of UNSW Sydney in Australia, said he and his colleagues recognised the need for experts with diverse voices to speak out about the climate crisis.

“Many challenges lie ahead of us in combatting the existential crisis in which the world finds itself,” said Prof Jacobs. “The International Universities Climate Alliance is a rich resource upon which governments, business, industry and the wider community can rely for evidence-based expert advice.”

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