The COP26 Universities Network is a group of more than 30 UK-based universities working together to help deliver an ambitious outcome at the next meeting, hosted by the UK next year.
It includes the University of Hull and its Energy & Environment Institute, alongside the likes of the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Durham University, the University of Manchester and University of Bristol.
The network has proposed a string of measures it suggests should be at the centre of the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
It includes conditional bailouts for struggling firms, dependent on improvements in climate-based criteria. These would be targeted at fossil fuel-intensive sectors and companies.
Other recommendations include an incentive scheme for electric vehicle purchase, improved broadband connectivity across the UK, and improving carbon standards for new-build homes.
As host of the upcoming COP26 summit in Glasgow, once the UK has its own sustainable recovery plan in place, it could lead a global effort to rebuild the world’s economy with a low-carbon focus.
Professor Parsons recently said the COVID-19 pandemic is predicted to lead to a 6% reduction in the global total of CO2 emissions in 2020.
This would be the largest ever annual fall, more than during any previous economic crisis or period of war.
However, to meet a trajectory for net-zero carbon by 2050, Professor Parsons highlighted “we need this to be over 7% each and every year between now and 2050.”
He said: “The unprecedented events we are seeing around the world with Coronavirus must serve as a wake-up call for our global society.
“We have seen the water in Venice’s canals look clearer than in recent memory, and satellite measurements have shown air pollution levels over China and Italy and other areas significantly improve, as travel decreases and industry slows.
“With some predictions indicating that carbon dioxide levels could increase rapidly after the virus has passed, as industry and economies looks to recover, attention must turn to how we make some of the temporary advances we are seeing over the past few months in reduced emissions, a permanent change in direction of increasing global emissions.”