Ethny Childs
4 December 2020

Our plans in the run up to COP26

Hundreds of people attended the annual Burntwood Lecture (#Burntwood2020) on the 3rd December, held virtually for the first time. Professor Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III and Professor of Sustainable Energy at Imperial College London, delivered a short lecture exploring the coherence of scientific messaging surrounding ways to address the climate crisis. Professor Skea explored the different approaches to addressing the climate and biodiversity crises, centred around the case study of land-based solutions and their interactions with mitigation and adaptation. A lively discussion chaired by Julie Hill MBE followed the lecture, with key respondents including Pankaj Bhatia (Deputy Director of the World Resource Institute's Climate Program), Sophie Marjanac (Climate Accountability Lead at ClientEarth) and Dr Peter Brotherton (Lead Director for Climate Change at Natural England). Alongside the lecture, a rich discussion took place in the chat box, with attendees discussing a diverse range of topics, from technical considerations such as how to get the most value from carbon capture and storage to broad philosophical questions on the interactions between coherent science and sometimes incoherent policy-making. You can read a summary of the lecture and key discussion points here. 

STAGES on the road to COP26

Reflecting on this year's Burntwood Lecture, the overriding message was the crossover between so many different challenges in the crisis ahead, with relevance to a range of different sectors and specialisms, and the importance of the scientific and professional community coming together with a shared vision and collective voice for how we should tackle the environmental challenges facing our society. It was clear from the discussion that we need to bring forward the tools to address these holistically, drawing a multiplicity of stakeholders together to find compromises and solutions which work to solve problems in a coherent way. As a leading voice for environmental science and the promotion of interdisciplinary working and systemic thinking, we believe that collaboration and communication are vital to success and that’s why we’re announcing our plans to set out a roadmap for communicating the science behind COP26 over the next year. 

Our ambition is to work with our members, other professional bodies and environmental scientists from across the sector to shape the discussion over the next year, and set out our roadmap to COP26. Moving into the new year, we will be focusing our activities in the run-up to COP26 around six key themes, outlining our STAGES on the road to COP:

  • Sustainability
  • Transformation
  • Adaptation
  • Green Society
  • Economy
  • Solutions

Each of these themes will be used to frame our activities and discussions and we will be kicking off with the first theme of sustainability in the New Year. You can read a more in depth exploration of our upcoming activities in this area here.

How can I get involved?

We will be establishing a new COP26 Community for members involved in COP and the themes outlined above, which will help to shape our activities in this area over the coming year. This community will be focused on championing the work of experts and evidence around climate change, and driving change to ensure adaptation measures are accurate, ambitious and achievable, through tailored discussions, events and resources. Find out more here.

If you aren’t an IES member, or you represent another organisation or professional body that could collaborate with us over the next year, please do get in touch and join the conversation.