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University of Warwick announces expert delegation to attend COP26

  • University of Warwick to send a delegation of 17 to COP26
  • It is one of a limited number of institutions to have been granted official observer status by the UN-led conference
  • Delegates chosen from across the university have expertise in a range of areas including political science, energy, microbiology and sustainable engineering

The University of Warwick has announced its delegation to attend the global climate conference, COP26, in Glasgow in November. The university is one of a limited number of institutions to have been granted official observer status by the UN-led conference, which is being hosted by the UK.

The delegates attending the conference reflect the University of Warwick’s strengths across sustainability, from political economy, to engineering, to life sciences. The invitation to send so many representatives is recognition of the contribution the University is making to deliver Net Zero in the UK and across the world.

This includes plans to create an Eco Park on University-owned land in Warwickshire, helping to accelerate the battery economy, hosting the UK’s first conference on Micromobility, and developing cutting edge Very Light Rail technology.

Professor Christine Ennew, Provost at the University of Warwick and Sustainability Lead, said: “It is a huge honour and responsibility to send so many delegates to what is one of the most important global conferences of our generation.

“Across the University, our staff and students have been working tirelessly to shape global policymaking, invent future transport solutions, and de-carbonise our own campus. Our delegation will seek to work closely with policymakers and business leaders attending COP26 to shape future policy and tackle the Climate Crisis across the world.

“As an institution which takes great pride in being based in the West Midlands, we will be representing our home region and sharing innovations and ideas which can support communities at home as well as abroad.”

The two-week conference begins on 31st October and runs until 12th November and will welcome leaders from across the world. It is hoped the conference will result in comprehensive, multi-national action to tackle Climate Change.

Margot James, Executive Chair of WMG who will be attending COP26, said: “The University of Warwick is a world leader in areas such as automotive and battery technology. Our work is critical to achieving Net Zero, so it is vital we make the most of our attendance to learn from, and influence, global policymakers, and business leaders.

“As well as representing our own institution, staff, and students, we will be representing all our partners and communities across the West Midlands as we work together to tackle climate change.”

Professor Caroline Kuzemko, Associate Professor of Politics and International Studies, who also will be attending COP26, said: “The central purpose of COP is to provide a forum for the world to come together and agree binding action and targets to tackle Climate Change. Previous COP meetings have made substantial progress, including the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.

“We know that more needs to be done and will look to our political leaders at COP26 to agree bold new approaches which build on the existing environmental consensus. At the University of Warwick, we will support these efforts in any way possible, either through our research and innovation or on the ground at the conference itself.”

Professor Hendrik Schaefer, Professor of Microbiology, added: “The Climate Emergency is the single most important issue facing humanity. The consequences of the warming climate are already playing out before our eyes.

COP26 is an important opportunity for negotiating solutions to this crisis and as scientists we need to focus on how we can contribute to deal with and communicate the urgency of climate change."

To find out more about what the University of Warwick is doing around sustainability, please visit



Notes to editors:

The University of Warwick is sending delegates to the COP26 conference in Glasgow between 31 October and 12 November.

The full list of delegates includes:

Lory Barile, Associate Professor – Economics

Lory Barile is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick, and a Fellow of the Warwick International Higher Education Academy (WIHEA). Her expertise and research interests are in the field of Behavioural and Experimental economics, and Public Sector economics. Lory also carries out pedagogical research with particular focus on understanding engagement and online peer assisted learning and leads on the University of Warwick WIHEA learning circle on ‘Education for sustainable development’ aimed at embedding sustainability in the University curriculum, in line with the University of Warwick wider commitment to sustainability.

Lory is also an Associate of the Economics Network (EN) and is currently working with colleagues on updating the EN handbook ‘Embedding Sustainability in the Economics curriculum’, which shares examples nationally and internationally of good practice on how to teach sustainability and the economics of the environment. Lory is also a member and Deputy Director of the Behavioural Environmental Economics Team working on various projects related to nudge theory, sustainability and climate change.

Michael Bradshaw, Professor – Warwick Business School

Michael Bradshaw is a Co-Director of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) where he leads the research theme on UK Energy in a Global Context.

Professor Bradshaw also leads the University of Warwick’s Global Research Priority on Energy and teaches on ‘Managing Sustainable Energy Transitions’ for Warwick Business School’s MBA programme.

He is a geographer by training and works at the interface between economic geography, international relations and strategy and international business. He is currently working on the geopolitics of energy system transformation and is continuing his work on global gas security, both for UKERC.

He is author of Global Energy Dilemmas (2014) that explored the relationship between energy security, globalization, and climate change. The co-editor of Global Energy: Issues, Potentials and Policy Implications (2015), and Natural Gas (2020) that explores the geopolitical economy of the global gas industry.

Elizabeth Chant, Assistant Professor, School of Modern Languages and Cultures Elizabeth Chant is Assistant Professor in Hispanic Studies at the University of Warwick, and a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London.

She is a specialist in Latin American environmental humanities with a focus on Argentinean and Chilean history and culture. Liz’s current research is investigating how the development of nature tourism has facilitated acts of extraction and indigenous dispossession across Argentina, Chile and the U.S.

At Warwick, Liz teaches courses on cultural representations of water in Latin America, and on ecocriticism. She previously studied at the Universities of Durham, Cambridge, and UCL.

David Chapman, Sustainability Champion – University of Warwick Estates

David Chapman has worked in the sustainability sector for a decade. He graduated Swansea University with a BSc Geography and worked in the charity sector supporting people in fuel poverty until entering his current role as Sustainability Champion (Waste and Recycling) at the University of Warwick.

Within this role he takes a holistic view of sustainability. David is a Domestic Energy Assessor, Climate Reality Leader, Climate KIC Alumni, the co-founder of Green Week across Coventry and Warwickshire, and champion of numerous initiatives both on and off campus.

Stuart Coles, Reader & Deputy Director of Research Degrees at WMG, University of Warwick

Dr Stuart Coles is Reader of Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing at WMG, University of Warwick. Stuart has been researching in this area for over 15 years and is focused on the understanding and implementation of sustainable materials and manufacturing processes within industry. Specifically, he looks at the use of life cycle assessment (LCA) as a decision-making tool to enable the transition to a low carbon economy.

Current areas of research activity include developing assessments of the environmental footprint of lithium-ion batteries across their entire life cycle and a range of battery chemistries and the construction of LCA models for the chemical recycling of plastic materials, including comparisons with other recycling technologies enabling decisions for how best to deal with mixed plastic waste streams

Volkan Degirmenci, Associate Professor – School of Engineering

Volkan Degirmenci is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Warwick whose work is focused on sustainable production of high-volume chemicals from renewables. Over the past 10 years, he researched on the transformation of plant biomass into platform chemicals for establishing the safe, sustainable, and circular chemical industry of the future.

He developed novel catalytic systems to achieve the selective conversion of biomass to biochemicals and biofuels which form the basis for a biorefinery. Volkan is passionate about embedding sustainability in teaching. He’s the co-director of the innovative interdisciplinary MSc Humanitarian Engineering at Warwick.

Parvez Islam, Director of Transport, Future Mobility and Sustainability

Parvez has been responsible for the Mobility strategy at the University for the past two years, working with local and regional partners to create positive modal shift and improve regional transport infrastructure. He has established a Future Transport Zone (FTZ) showcase in conjunction with Transport for West Midlands as part of his drive towards creating more sustainable transport options on campus, including Demand Response Transport (DRT), cycle hire and e-scooters to name a few.

Previously, he had a similar role at London Luton Airport working as part of the Airport Masterplan to help deliver the Transport strategy, in particular help the drive towards shared mobility from a passenger commute perspective.

His vision at Warwick is to achieve a sustainable transport network whereby both staff and students not only have the options and alternatives available for them to utilise, they also have the tools and resources to make more informed decisions when it comes to acting sustainably. Hence, his primary focus is to delivery operationally overall energy consumption reduction and the embodiment of sustainability in day-to-day lives to tackle our carbon footprint.

Margot James, Executive Chair – WMG

Margot James is the Executive Chair of WMG at the University of Warwick. She has had a wide-ranging career which has spanned working for the UK Government and as a businesswoman. Both in business and Government, Margot has championed the need to expand opportunities for diverse groups of young people.

Margot served as Minister of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with responsibility for Digital, Telecoms and the Creative Industries, piloting the Data Protection Bill through Parliament, incorporating GDPR into UK law. Previously she served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with responsibility for small businesses, consumers and corporate governance, including labour markets.

Margot co-founded Shire Health Group and led its growth to over 100 staff, having created a market for industry sponsored public health campaigns. She led the successful transitioning of Shire Health Group to the multinational WPP in 2000.

She served on the Europe, Middle East and Africa Board of Ogilvy Mather, leading European healthcare programmes.

Jacob Jefferson, Democracy and Development Officer at University of Warwick Students’ Union

Jacob Jefferson is a History graduate and is Democracy and Development Officer at Warwick Student's Union.

Pietari Kaapa, Reader – Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies

Pietari Kaapa is Reader in Media and Communications at the University of Warwick. He works in the field of environmental media studies with a specific focus on media management and industry studies.

His monograph Environmental Management of the Media: Industry, Policy, Practice (Routledge 2018) explores the ecological footprint of media production and the policies and strategies developed in the media sector to curtail these impacts. He is PI (with Hunter Vaughan, University of Colorado Boulder) of the AHRC Global Green Media Network ( and is currently working on A Greener Screen: film and Television Production in the Age of the Climate Emergency (Palgrave, 2022) with Vaughan.

Kerry Kirwan, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor (Research)

Kerry Kirwan is a Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research) for the University of Warwick, a Trustee of The Alan Turing Institute and a Professor at WMG. He is the Director of the £11m EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing (EngD), Strategic Director of the £10m Industrial Doctorate Centre and Head of the Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing Research Group within WMG. Prof Kirwan also leads the University of Warwick's Global Research Priority in Innovative Manufacturing and Future Materials. Previously he was a member of the EPSRC's Manufacturing the Future Strategic Advisory Team.

Professor Kirwan is a specialist in circular economy, sustainable materials, polymer processing and industrial applications. He has extensive experience of developing environmentally friendly materials for application within numerous industries and secured more than £35m of research funding from both public and private bodies.

Caroline Kuzemko, Associate Professor – Politics and International Studies

Dr Caroline Kuzemko has been researching the politics of sustainable energy transformations for past 14 years and is Co-Lead of the UK Energy Research Centre's 'UK Energy in a Global Context' project. She has written books on 'The Global Energy Challenge', and on 'The Energy Security-Climate Nexus’ and has edited a journal special issue on 'Rethinking the International Political Economy of Energy'.

Prior to her academic career, Caroline was a Director of UBS, working in emerging market equities.

Graeme Macdonald, Professor – English and Comparative Literary Studies

Graeme has been member of the Warwick English department since 2003. His research and teaching is focussed around the intersections between cultural work, energy and climate change. He has a particular interest in the ways in which speculative imaginaries of energy and climate futures offer means to better realise the issues and forms around a just transition.

He is a member of the international Petrocultures Research Group and the After Oil school. He was CI on the Royal Society of Edinburgh Humanities research project Connecting with a low carbon Scotland, which reported in 2018. Since 2018, he has been CI on the FORMAS funded international research project Climaginaries: narrating socio-cultural transitions to a post-fossil society. He is curating and exhibiting the Climaginaries Carbon Ruins museum project at the Green Zone and in the Rachel Carson Centre gallery space at COP26.

Alice Mah, Professor – Sociology

Alice Mah is Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick, with research interests in environmental justice, corporate power, and the politics of green industrial transformations.

She is the author of Plastic Unlimited: How Corporations are Fuelling the Ecological Crisis and What We Can Do About It (forthcoming with Polity Press in 2022); Toxic Truths: Environmental Justice and Citizen Science in a Post-Truth Age (with Thom Davies, 2020); Port Cities and Global Legacies (2014); and Industrial Ruination, Community, and Place (2012). Her next book, Petrochemical Planet: Multiscalar Battles of Industrial Transformation, based on research from her European Research Council-funded project “Toxic Expertise: Environmental Justice and the Global Petrochemical Industry,” will be published by Duke University Press.

Adrian Penfold, Member of Governing Council – University of Warwick

Adrian was Head of Planning at British Land from 1996 to 2019 and led on Corporate Responsibility and Public Affairs for much of that time.

Before that he worked in the public sector, at the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, the London Docklands Development Corporation and, as Head of Planning, at Dartford Borough Council. He was a member of the Barker Review of Land Use Planning Panel of Experts and led the Government’s Independent Penfold Review of Non-Planning Consents which reported in July 2010. He was a Commissioner on the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission and is now a member of the Transitional Board of the Office for Place. He was non-executive Chair of Design Southeast from 2014 to 2020 and is a member of the Governing Council, and Chair of the Estates and Environment Committee at the University of Warwick.

Jessica Savage, Senior Teaching Fellow – Global Sustainable Development

Jess Savage is a senior teaching fellow and deputy head of school in Global Sustainable Development at the University of Warwick. Her research and teaching interests centre on understanding biodiversity loss, exploring the consequences and impacts of climate and environmental change while critically integrating the ‘human element’.

Jess Savage has a PhD in Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology from the University of Plymouth, and an MSc in Biodiversity Conservation from the University of Southampton. Her doctoral work explored the design of Marine Protected Areas in coastal Cambodia. Prior to joining Warwick in 2017, she taught Tropical Coastal Ecology at The School for Field Studies in Bocas Del Toro, Panama.

Hendrik Schaefer, Professor in Microbiology

As an environmental microbiologist, Professor Schaefer’s work is focusses on improving our understanding of how unseen and ubiquitous microorganisms in the environment turn the wheels of major biogeochemical cycles that have a profound impact on the earth system and its climate.

Microorganisms in the world’s oceans, soils, and in association with vegetation are responsible for the production and degradation of trace gasses which have significant effects on the chemistry of the atmosphere and some also affect human health as pollutants.

For instance, the organic sulfur compound dimethyl sulfide (DMS), is the most abundant biogenic sulfur compound emitted into the atmosphere where it contributes to the production of atmospheric aerosols, small particles that help to form clouds and which scatter and reflect sunlight, thus affecting the radiative balance of the atmosphere. DMS, which is sometimes referred to as the smell of the sea, is produced and degraded by microorganisms which therefore play a role in climate feedbacks.

He studies the underlying mechanisms of DMS production and degradation by microorganisms which provides important data to investigate how their activities in the environment may interact with climate change. As part of the MOSAiC international arctic ice drift expedition, he is currently involved in characterising DMS cycling microorganisms in the Arctic.

Another example of his work on trace gas degrading microorganisms concerns bacteria associated with trees and how they interact with air pollution. He recently discovered that a large fraction of bacteria colonising tree leaves may be capable of degradation of carbon monoxide a ubiquitous trace gas and air pollutant affecting human health. The aim of our research is to contribute to a better understanding of how these microorganisms are driving these fundamental global processes that are relevant for climate and human health.



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