Date: 1 - 12 November 2021

Location: Glasgow

What is COP 26?
COP (Conference of the Parties) is the annual UN Climate Change Conference, at which UN representatives and observers meet to discuss a global response to the climate emergency. This will be the 26th COP, and it is being jointly hosted by the UK and Italy. It is predicted COP26 will attract 30,000 delegates. There was not much agreed upon in COP25, so the pressure will be on to have tangible outcomes from COP26, particularly on how UN member states will cut emissions. COP meets annually, and is well known for producing some of the most forward-thinking and collaborative global deals, such as the Paris Climate Agreement which came out of COP21 in 2015. This saw 189 UN member states agree to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 °C.
This is a huge opportunity for the UK, and the education sector in particular, to show the brilliant work that education institutions are doing on this agenda, and it is also a good time to stock take and look at how institutions can do more.
The event will be held in Glasgow; a city famed worldwide for sustainable business tourism, with impressive sustainability ambitions to be the UK’s first carbon neutral city by 2030 and a world-leading centre for sustainable policy and innovation. Of course, many of the discussions will take place outside of the UN organised events, in fringe events organised by the public and private sector. It will be a very exciting time to be in Glasgow!

What is EAUC doing on this?
Previous COPs
EAUC have represented members at several previous COPs, presenting an open letter in 2015 on behalf of a Global Alliance of networks and associations representing more than 10,000 universities and colleges worldwide to COP21 President, Laurent Fabius. In the letter to COP21 ministers and negotiators, governments were urged to acknowledge and strengthen the research and education role that universities and colleges play in finding and implementing solutions towards climate change mitigation and adaptation, placing it in the context of addressing wider issues of sustainability, including social and economic policies and practices.

EAUC also presented a Global Climate Letter during COP25 in Madrid during a series of events that outlined what higher and further education institutions and networks in the world are doing to tackle the climate crisis. The Letter had commitments from 247 Higher and Further Education institutions representing approx. 4,559,515 students to go carbon neutral by 2030 (or by 2050 at the latest).

COP26 Resources
A collection of COP26 resources for universities and colleges are available on the Sustainability Exchange.

We have set up a COP26 JISC Mail list for people to share updates and progress. To join this list please email and ask to join.

COP26 Updates
March 2020
Following the news that COP26 is understandably postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, EAUC released the below statement:
"EAUC wants to reassure members and partners that we will continue with our work to support institutions have a voice at COP26 and lead the sectors response to the Climate Emergency.

"We remain a member of the COP26 youth roundtable for the Cabinet Office, as well as our work with United Nations Environment (UNEP) and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to ensure education is seen as a critical voice in all climate matters.

“Through EAUC-Scotland, we will also continue our work supporting Scottish institutions and the public sector to further build on this and ensure a strong Scottish voice is particularly present. We will, of course, continue to support the UK COP26 Research Group and other key partners to guarantee that when COP26 does happen, it is seen as a success in highlighting the work that universities and colleges are leading on.”

EAUC will continue to plan for COP26 in 2021, and make use of the extra time to make its contribution bigger and better.

February 2020
Over the last 4 months, the EAUC has been doing a lot of work towards COP26 behind the scenes. Here are some of the things we are working on:
  • The launch of COP26 event in London, with representatives from the Climate Commission including two students and University of Plymouth Vice Chancellor Judith Petts.
  • ‘Countdown to COP26’ - a civil society conference, organised by Green Alliance (of which EAUC is an active member). Opened by Cabinet Minister Michael Gove and closed by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, this was a really interesting conference that allowed a lot of knowledge transfer and discussion about how civil society can work together.
  • COP26 youth roundtable launch (ongoing as EAUC is a member) run by the COP26 Cabinet Office. Other members include the British Youth Council, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Future Leaders Network, SOS-UK, among others.
  • Scotland events - there was an initial ideas event on the 4th of February for the FHE sector (see top 10 list at the bottom of the page) and one for the Scottish Government at the same time which focused on Ambition & Action, Wellbeing & Just Transition and Inclusion.
  • EAUC-Scotland will also be holding regular COP26 events to co-ordinate and mobilise the sector.
  • Working with Climate Coalition and the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit on coordinating an education sector group to input on civic society activities around COP26
  • Working with Museums and Galleries in Scotland to coordinate activities
  • Working with UNFCCC and UNEP on profiling the SDG Accord and Global Climate Letter at COP26
  • Liaising with institutions who have Observer Status to attend COP to help represent education within COP itself
Climate Commission Together with Association of Colleges, GuildHE and Universities UK, we have partnered to establish a Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education Leaders. This was launched in November 2019. EAUC is the initiator and secretariat of the Climate Commission and as a membership body we will continue to make sure our members get a clear voice in this space. The purpose of this Commission is to create a blueprint for the sector to reach net zero. The Commission is a year long exercise, and it will culminate at COP26 with an update on sector progress and plans. We are working on five priorities that will also produce resources of use in the run up to COP26 and beyond.

Working with academics – We have been having constructive conversations with “UK Universities’ support for COP26 Glasgow 2020”. This is a growing an academic network representing 21 institutions that can be used as an information resource and we are discussing further crossover and work we can do with these researchers and academics.

Creating resources – EAUC-Scotland have developed a resource entitled ‘10 things to do for COP26’. We will create a number of other resources to support COP26.

If you would like more information, or to work collaboratively with EAUC on COP26 activities, please click here to get in touch. 
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