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Climate change: global context

Universities have a unique and important role in researching, innovating, sharing knowledge and leading on the transformation that we must see to reach the aims of the SDGs by their target of 2030 and to address the urgent climate challenges that we all face.

In 2019, the University of Warwick formally declared a State of Climate Emergency , committing to Scope 2 carbon neutrality by 2030, and Scope 3 net carbon neutrality by 2050, in line with best practice advocated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

On these pages you can find out more about international climate change frameworks, COP26 and environmental sustainability at Warwick.

The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow on 1 – 12 November 2021. The climate talks will bring together heads of state, climate experts and campaigners to agree coordinated action to tackle climate change. As COP26 Presidency, the UK is committed to working with all countries and joining forces with civil society, companies and people on the frontline of climate change to inspire action ahead of COP26.

The objective of the conference is to bring governments, business and civil society together to drive action across key sectors of the economy to reduce emissions, adapt to the effects of climate change and build resilience across the the globe. To achieve this, the UNFCCC in conjunction with the UK COP Presidency, originally outlined 5 key thematic areas, or campaigns, to be addressed. These were: Nature-based solutions, Adaptation and resilience, Climate finance, Clean energy / energy transition and clean road transport.

As COP26 approached, the UK Government has now further defined its priorities under four key goals:

  • Mitigation
  • Adaptation
  • Finance
  • Collaboration

Visit the COP26 website

Find out how Warwick's research supports the climate change agenda

The COP26 Universities Network is a growing group of more than 40 UK-based universities working together to raise ambition for tangible outcomes from the UN COP26 Climate Change Conference [Glasgow, Scotland, November 2021]. The Network will create lasting partnerships and legacies that reach beyond this single event.

The Network's mission is to ensure that the UK academic sector plays our role in delivering a successful COP26, getting all players on track to deliver a low-carbon, resilient world. It aims to do so by easing access to evidence and academic expertise for COP26 for government, NGOs, and other actors, and by taking action itself. 

The group has a number of working groups related to COP26 themes that anyone is welcome to join. In addition, you can register to be included in their directory of experts at the link below.

About the network

COP 26 Universities Network briefings

Climate change expert profile submission

PODCAST: The Climate Papers

On 6 March 2020 the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee launched a standing inquiry into Net Zero and the UN Climate Summits. A central focus of this inquiry is scrutiny of the Government’s preparations for COP26. The UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) conducted a survey of experts on the UN’s climate negotiation process.

This report draws together the views of over 500 experts working on international climate policy who participated in the survey.

COP26: Principles and priorities—a POST survey of expert views

This information is taken from the UNFCCC web site:

The UNFCCC secretariat (UN Climate Change) is the United Nations entity tasked with supporting the global response to the threat of climate change. UNFCCC stands for United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Convention has near universal membership (197 Parties) and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep the global average temperature rise this century as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The UNFCCC is also the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The ultimate objective of all three agreements under the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.

What is the Paris Agreement?

What is the Kyoto Protocol?

The below information is taken from the IPCC website:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.

The IPCC provides regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.

Created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the objective of the IPCC is to provide governments at all levels with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies. IPCC reports are also a key input into international climate change negotiations.

Through its assessments, the IPCC identifies the strength of scientific agreement in different areas and indicates where further research is needed. The IPCC does not conduct its own research.

Read more about the IPCC

The below information is taken from the UN Sustainable Development Goals website:

The Sustainable Development Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere. The 17 Goals were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which set out a 15-year plan to achieve the Goals.

Today, progress is being made in many places, but, overall, action to meet the Goals is not yet advancing at the speed or scale required. 2020 needs to usher in a decade of ambitious action to deliver the Goals by 2030. (

The SDGs are made up of 17 Goals. Each goal has a set of targets associated with it. There are also agreed indicators for measuring the SDGs.

The UN SDG web site presents the detail about the targets and indicators of each goal along with reports on progress and other useful information broken down by year. You need to click on the particular goal icon on the landing page to access the information.

Warwick's contribution to the SDGs

In September 2020, Warwick launched its first report in to the Sustainable Development Goals. The report explores the way that Warwick is contributing to the SDGs. It is a first milestone in our commitment to promote further engagement from the academic community and invite a broad and inclusive range of stakeholders to start a conversation about sustainable development.

Warwick's first SDG report

Warwick declared a Climate Emergency in 2019, with the aim to reach net zero carbon from its direct emissions and the energy it buys by 2030 and a further commitment to put in place initiatives to significantly reduce indirect emissions to net zero carbon by 2050. You can read a progress update from the Provost, Professor Chris Ennew here.

In September 2020, Warwick launched its first report in to the Sustainable Development Goals. The report explore the way that Warwick is contributing to the SDGs. The report is a first milestone in a commitment to promote further engagement from the academic community and invite a broad and inclusive range of stakeholders to start a conversation about sustainable development.

There are many useful resources about campus sustainability initiatives and environmental sustainability reporting on the Environmental Sustainability pages.

Warwick's first SDG report

Environmental Sustainability

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