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Climate Exp0 through the eyes of a student volunteer and a presenter

Illustration of a group of people walking through rolling hills

Image credit: Dr. Cécile Girardin, University of Oxford

The Climate Exp0 conference, hosted in May this year, aimed to showcase the latest thinking and international research relevant to climate change and raise ambition for tangible outcomes at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November. Online and free, the conference was designed to support the climate change research agenda and stimulate virtual collaboration among different stakeholders. Current GSD student, Scarlett Scott-Nadal, took part in Climate Exp0 as a student volunteer; and recent GSD graduate, Mia Sannapureddy, was selected to present her research on the premise for a fossil-free bond index. Hear from Scarlett and Mia below about their experiences of the conference.

"In preparation for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the Climate Exp0 conference provided five days of informative and engaging research surrounding climate issues. Climate Exp0 was co-organised by the COP26 Universities Network (of which the University of Warwick is a participating university). The conference aimed to allow a diverse group of environmental enthusiasts, from students to policymakers, to collaborate and discuss the current scientific information on climate change and existing initiatives to combat it. The conference spanned from the 17th May to the 21st May and explored a variety of topics, including green recovery, nature-based solutions, mitigation solutions, adaptation and resilience and finance and regulation. Keynote speakers included, among others, Alok Sharma, President of COP26; Roberto Cingolani, Italian Minister of Ecological Transition; and Dr Emily Shuckburgh, Director of Cambridge Zero.

The job of a student volunteer

As a student volunteer at the Climate Exp0 conference, I was privileged to attend the session “You’re surrounded! Regionally led, globally relevant, nature-based solutions of water” as part of the “Nature-based Solutions” theme. The session was chaired by Dr James Dyke from the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter and featured three main speakers: Dr Chris Clements, University of Bristol; Dr Jannis Wenk, University of Bath; and Prof Isabelle Durance, Cardiff University. The panel lasted for roughly 75 minutes and focused on the connection between water-related issues and the climate emergency. Although the research presented was amazingly detailed and comprehensive, I was required to summarise the session into just five main points.

Five-point summary of the session

The main takeaways from the session are as follows:

  1. Water security relates to water quality, freshwater biodiversity, water scarcity, and water-based extreme weather events;
  2. In order to effectively manage freshwater ecosystems, we need reliable tools to predict the future, yet this is accompanied by significant challenges, such as high expense;
  3. Nature-based solutions involve working with nature to improve management of water security in a way that is beneficial for the economy, society and the environment, however, this is difficult due to a lack of funding, and difficulty in getting different actors to agree, due to uncertainty about the costs and benefits;
  4. The best way to ensure effective water management is to try and build evidence to achieve a shared, agreed vision on water management; and
  5. A suggested form of management, treatment wetlands, can be low energy, used for recreational purposes, habitat and carbon storage and can improve water quality, addressing some water security issues.

Review of volunteering

The opportunity to volunteer at such an influential conference was an astounding experience and I therefore greatly recommend getting involved in similar events in any way you can. Whether it be to simply gather more information to ameliorate the quality of climate-focused assessments, or to feed your passion for environmental protection and stewardship, opportunities like this one should be seized. The event would not have been as successful without the other dedicated volunteers who worked diligently to record timestamps of important moments or summarise a session as I did. The climate emergency needs more passionate and devoted people in order to continue to see progressions in research and introductions of and amendments to policies and frameworks.

I sincerely hope everyone who participated and attended felt as equipped and determined to combat the climate emergency as I did.

Collaboration and teamwork to share and amplify our understanding of the climate crisis are undoubtedly essential for change."

Mia Sannapureddy

History and GSD graduate

"It has been a delight attending and presenting at Climate Exp0 2021. The week was very inspiring – from covering nature-based solutions to the most promising means of climate adaptation, it served as a reminder of the urgency of climate action as well an inspiration for what can be achieved.

Mia presenting at Climate Exp0

On the final day of the conference, I presented the premise for a fossil-free bond index at the “Green Bonds and Novel Financial Instruments” session. As a research assistant for Dr Ellen Quigley at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk in Cambridge, I have been working on the basis for a passive financial debt instrument to curb fossil fuel funding. The project is due to undergo a feasibility study later this year - please feel free to reach out if it is of any interest!"

Climate Exp0 blog

Screenshot of the Climate Exp0 blog

"Through the Climate Exp0 blog, you can learn more about the conference itself, and the research and activities featured this year."

Visit the blog.