Joseph Lewis
April 2021

STAGES on the road to COP26: Transformation wrap-up

Since the start of 2021, the IES has been working to bring together expert voices on climate science ahead of COP26. Across six themed discussions, the IES is using its platform to generate conversations and to clarify key areas of consensus and conflict which will need to be addressed ahead of the conference this November.

The second of our ‘STAGES on the Road to COP26’ focused on discussing transformative change: put simply, how can climate action ensure that social and economic systems are decoupled from unsustainable processes, whilst meeting the needs of the global population? The IES held a panel discussion in March where four experts shared their perspective on what transformation will mean for food, energy, transport, and the built environment.

Key ideas to take away from the panel event

Discussion centred on these four key systems and how they can be transformed to tackle the climate crisis. How do our actions determine how food is produced, and what are the implications for land use? Are we embedding unsustainable outcomes when we build our homes and cities? What needs to happen to transform the energy system away from dependence on carbon-based fuels? How can innovations in how we travel support the transition to a net zero future?

For each system, the IES has pulled out one of the big questions coming from the discussion between event participants and the panellists. Though the event raised many important conversations which should be had before the climate conference in November, these four provide an insight into the challenges ahead when it comes to shifting our systems towards sustainability.

What next?

The event underscored the importance of change which is transformative, while also showing how that transformation could be made a reality. As the IES continues to drive discussions ahead of COP26, we will be taking these conversations to the next step: showing how this vision for a transformed world could become a reality that achieves social, economic, and environmental benefits at the same time.

In order to achieve transformative change at the scopes and scales necessary to combat climate change, environmental professionals will be crucial. Not only do they have the expertise necessary to understand complex social, economic, and environmental systems, they often work on the frontlines of climate pressures, well-positioned to make a substantial difference.

Given how important those voices will be in ensuring we take the action we need, the IES is launching an opinion piece: “What transformation means for environmental professionals”, which contains the perspectives of six environmental professionals on what transformative change will mean for them, including insights into making that change a reality.

Read their perspectives

As we continue these crucial discussions about how to mitigate the extent of climate change and take action to reverse its effects, we also need to talk about adaptation to the changes which are already taking place, looking at approaches to adapt to a warmer world while simultaneously progressing the mitigation agenda.

The next theme of our work on the STAGES on the Road to COP26 will be looking at adaptation, beginning with a series of webinars on nature-based solutions, high-level risk and resilience, and the important adaptive work which must come hand-in-hand with mitigation and transformative change. We already held the first webinar in this series on Wednesday 7th April, which was given by Evan Bowen-Jones from Kent Wildlife Trust, and the next will be held on the 28th April, exploring the role of nature-based solutions in a just transition. 

Check out our events page to sign up for upcoming webinars in this series as we continue to hold these important conversations on the road to COP26.