From June 29th to 30th, the Global Alliance of Universities on Climate (GAUC) held its 3rd Academic Conference online from June 29th to 30th.
Themed Pathways to Net Zero Emissions and Carbon/Climate Neutrality, the conference was attended by global influential policymakers, including Xie Zhenhua, Special Envoy for Climate Change of China, John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate of the United States, attended the Policymakers session, Emmanuel Guerin, Executive Director for the International Group at the European Climate Foundation (ECF), and Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“All countries in the world have different timeframes to achieve carbon neutrality because there were different natural circumstances, different stages of development, and different capacities. But we are all aligned to the same direction and similar pathways,” noted Xie Zhenhua, adding that “I've been caring and supporting the strong efforts held by GAUC. I feel so encouraged to see that GAUC, since its inception, has been a central role in synergizing forces from all parties to achieve climate change.”
“We need common, but differentiated. We are asking countries all around the world to do enough. Now the key measurement is that we do what we need to do between 2020 and 2030 so that we can keep 1.5 degrees alive,” said John Kerry.
“What we see at the moment is critically important and also a departure from the past. It's not just an exercise in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. It's an exercise in putting all of that at the very center of economic strategies and policymaking, as well as into politics.” said Emmanuel Guerin.
Patricia Espinosa joined the conference via pre-recorded video, where she expressed her expectation of the COP26. She stated that “Our goal this year is clear, we must achieve success at COP26 for the planet, for those who share it, for those who inherited it.”
Unlike previous academic conferences of the GAUC, which were mainly organized by its Secretariat, the Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Tsinghua University (ICCSD), the 3rd Academic Conference was led by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), with close support from the Program Committee, composed of LSE, Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial and Tsinghua. The success of the conference also attributes to the dedicated contribution from all GAUC member universities.
Lord Nicholas Stern, Chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE and Chair of GAUC's Academic Committee, conveyed when he was chairing the Policymakers session that, “Those of us who work in universities get tremendous inspiration from young people. GAUC is a key route to enhance and channel that enthusiasm and collaboration and indeed expertise of the next generation.”
Following the Policymakers session, four online discussion sessions were held, focused on: Net zero technologies, Net zero and carbon neutrality in the United States and China, Net zero pathways and policies, and Net zero, growth and justice. These sessions attracted over 20 leading climate experts from 15 universities around the world.
At the end of the two-day online discussion, Dr Emily Shuckburgh OBE, the Director of Cambridge Zero, delivered the closing remarks. “Those two days have demonstrated a great appetite amongst researchers at GAUC member institutions to engage with each other about their research across a great breadth of subjects,” she stated. “I hope that the last two days have served to demonstrate the commitment of GAUC towards supporting an ambitious outcome at COP 26.”
The keynotes of the climate experts can be accessed at the website of the GAUC: http://conference.gauc.net/keynotes/.
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