University of Hull experts to represent Hull and region at COP27 climate summit

Leading University of Hull experts in low-carbon energy, flood resilience and sustainability are set to represent the region at the global COP27 climate summit.

The University of Hull academics will join thousands of delegates who will be discussing the global actions which can be taken to combat climate change and protect our planet for future generations.

The summit in Sharm el-Sheikh will bring together all the UN member states for two weeks of climate discussion from 6-18 November to establish the details of international climate agreements, including the Paris Agreement, which commits countries to try to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably to 1.5C compared to pre-industrial temperatures.

COP stands for Conference of the Parties to the UN’s climate change framework – and includes all the UN member states, and the European Union, which negotiates as a bloc. The event takes place on an annual basis (apart from in 2020, when it was interrupted by COVID-19), and this will be the 27th year of the summit.

The University of Hull’s presence at the summit will highlight the University’s work relating to sustainability as well as the city/region’s low-carbon transition with partner organisations including the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission, and Living with Water – a partnership between the University and Yorkshire Water, Hull City Council, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, and the Environment Agency – which aims to help build flood resilience and understanding about the threats and opportunities water brings to our region.

Professor Dave Petley, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hull, said: “As a University, we have an ambitious plan to make our campus carbon neutral by our centenary year in 2027, delivering against our commitment to a strong, sustainable future for us all.”

“Our strategy is built around two themes – sustainability and social justice – and we want to take the opportunity provided by COP27 to be a part of the negotiations and to represent the region’s work in decarbonisation and combatting the climate crisis.

“The issue of funding is expected to be at the heart of this year’s negotiations as lower income nations are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change such as drought and flooding. This issue has been unresolved for some time – and it is one that needs immediate focus as countries around the world struggle to adapt and to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis.”

Professor Briony McDonagh, Professor of Environmental Humanities and lead for the UKRI-funded Risky Cities project’ will lead the University’s delegation at COP27.

“The region’s established green energy credentials have enabled us to work towards establishing the Humber as an ideal “living lab” to develop projects that showcase how the world, particularly waterfront regions, can work towards a clean growth future.

“This year’s Waterline Summit, held at the University’s Aura Innovation Centre in partnership Marketing Humber, brought the Humber together behind a shared vision for a prosperous net zero future. Collectively we addressed the challenges and significant opportunities facing the region as a result of the global climate crisis, including the implementation of internationally significant decarbonisation projects.

“I am delighted to be attending COP27 to highlight the strengths of our region as together we address the climate crisis and act to protect our planet for future generations.”

Last year a team of academics from the University’s Energy and Environment Institute team led various participatory events at the UK-hosted summit to communicate climate change impacts and mitigations. These included: ‘On the Edge’ – a National Youth Theatre and University of Hull climate-themed production which was performed live at the summit and also live-streamed to students and staff on campus.

The piece which was co-created by NYT and the University following workshops led by Professor McDonagh and other University of Hull academics explored young peoples’ eco-anxiety in the face of climate uncertainty through the power of spoken word, poetry, music, and short film.

The performance was part of the University of Hull’s Risky Cities project, involving an interdisciplinary grouping of staff from across the University, which uses innovative arts and humanities approaches to build climate awareness and help communities become more flood resilient, today and for the future.

The project gathers Hull-based stories of flooding and use them in community-based arts and heritage interventions as well as large-scale cultural productions developed in collaboration with project partners, Absolutely Cultured and the National Youth Theatre.

The region’s established green energy credentials have enabled us to work towards establishing the Humber as an ideal living lab to develop projects that showcase how the world can work towards a clean growth future.

Professor Briony McDonagh

Other contributions to COP26 included: the University’s Hedgerows project – ‘Mapping the Gaps’ – which looks at the benefits planting new hedges can have on absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere; an ocean acidification display highlighting how video games can be used to educate about the hidden impacts of climate change on our ocean habitats; a display from the University’s Flood Innovation Centre and a schools project, led by the University; and the INSECURE project – which created a short film with pupils at Withernsea High, who shared their experiences of coastal erosion through poetry, spoken word, music and more. The University’s ongoing research into low-carbon heating and cooling technology also featured.

This year, the University’s climate-change related research strengths – which include offshore wind and other renewable energy sources, carbon removal and low-carbon transition, and flood resilience – will be represented in the Blue Zone of the summit which brings together delegations from 197 Parties across the globe, to share their stories at panel discussions, side events, exhibits, and cultural events in a series of themed days from Agriculture to Finance. The University delegates will be in attendance for:

Water Day (14 November): which covers all issues related to sustainable water resource management including water scarcity, drought, cross boundary cooperation and improvement of early warning systems.

Gender Day (14 November): which focuses on the role of women in dealing with all aspects of the climate change challenge. Women continue to bear a disproportionate burden from the adverse impacts of climate change, and despite some progress having been made over recent years, the gender perspective needs further work to be fully integrated into the processes of formulating and implementing policies and actions on the ground.

Energy Day (15 November): which deals with all aspects of energy and climate change, including renewable energy and energy transformation, with a specific focus on just transition in the energy sector, and Green hydrogen as a potential energy source for the future.

Biodiversity Day (November 16): which deals with nature and ecosystem-based solutions including the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and the means to mobilise the global actions towards the challenges to halt biodiversity loss and to reduce the impacts of climate change and pollution. The discussions would also include the impacts of climate change on oceans, endangered species, coral reefs, sustainability of protected areas to deliver ecosystem services to human, impacts of plastic waste on the aquatic ecosystems and species, ecosystem-based solutions and their link to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Solutions Day (17 November): Possible solutions for the broad array of climate change challenges range from the holistic, cross cutting solutions such as greening of national budgets, or sustainable cities, multilevel action and sustainable transport, to sectoral solutions like waste management, alternatives to plastic and green building. More specific solutions emanating from private sector and start-ups bringing creativity and innovation to the effort to deal with climate change. Sustainable cities, green buildings and resilience will also be a focus.

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