COP26 Fellows' work will inform Glasgow summit

28th July 2020 - 14:34

Four researchers have been awarded unique Fellowships to engage with the international climate negotiations in the run up to the 26th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26).

The COP26 Fellowships, sponsored by UKRI through the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and offered through the Place-Based Climate Action Network (PCAN), will support the international climate negotiations through the provision, synthesis, translation and interpretation of scientific evidence.  

The opportunity to become a COP26 Fellow proved very popular, with 129 applications made through video submissions and an online form.

The four successful Fellows are:

  • Harriet Thew (University of Leeds): YES TO Net Zero (Youth, Education, Skills and Training to Operationalise Net Zero)
  • Thomas Hale (University of Oxford): From “Groundswell” to “All of Society”: How local governments, business, and civil society can contribute to the implementation phase of the Paris Agreement
  • Jessica Omukuti (University of York): Making money go further: Scaling climate finance through local delivery
  • Rebecca Ford (University of Strathclyde): ALIGN: ALigning Impacts for Getting to Net-zero.

The Fellowships will be awarded for the academic year 2020/21 and run until mid-November 2021, covering the pre-COP26 process and COP26 itself.

The Fellows will be embedded into the activities of the COP26 universities network run by the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London and led by Alyssa Gilbert, Director of Policy and Translation.  The Fellowships will form the nucleus of a broader programme of coordinated outputs and events by UK universities ahead of COP26.  

COP26 President Alok Sharma said:  “I offer my warmest welcome to the new COP26 Fellows and look forward to them bringing their expertise to the work already underway.
“The COP26 Universities Network will play a vital role to inform and communicate the need for meaningful climate action in the run up to the summit.”

Alyssa Gilbert said: “We are looking forward to integrating these Fellows, their work and their energy into the heart of the COP26 universities network. Their research activities will be shared with others in the universities network, to stimulate our academic communities to get involved in COP26.

“In addition, each of these fellows has clear plans for engaging with decision makers, and these approaches can be amplified and shared by the other engagement activities of the universities network.”

Professor Alison Park, Director of Research at ESRC, said: “I am delighted with the announcement of the four COP26 Fellowships. These will provide a unique opportunity for the four researchers, each at different stages in their research careers and from different disciplinary backgrounds, to play an active role in COP26.  

“Their work will play an important part in highlighting how UK research and evidence can contribute to collaborative decision making on our international transition to net zero.”

About the COP26 Fellows

Harriet Thew is a postgraduate researcher and graduate teaching associate at the University of Leeds. She has many years’ experience in youth participation in previous COPs. Harriet said: “This Fellowship will investigate how young people can drive forward a just transition towards Net Zero and contribute to a green recovery from COVID-19. I’m really looking forward to working with policy-makers and young people in the lead up to COP26 to ensure that young people are heard, valued and invested in.”

See Harriet’s video

Thomas Hale  is Associate Professor of Global Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford. A political scientist, he will be focussing on how cities, businesses, subnational and non-state actors can catalyse international climate policy. Thomas said: “COP26 is a critical moment to put action at the centre of the Paris Agreement. I’m excited to think through how we can build an ‘All Society’ COP that maximizes action from all different kinds of actors.”

See Thomas’s video

Jessica Omukuti is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of York who has previously interned with the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Jessica will be focussing on climate finance. Jessica said: "This fellowship is about 'following the money' to support debates for the scaling up of climate finance. I'll conduct an analysis of the proportion of GCF finance that is spent on local level adaptation in developing countries."

See Jessica’s video

Rebecca Ford is Chancellor’s Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Strathclyde. Rebecca will be focussing on energy justice and how it can be embedded and aligned with other decision making  areas to ensure a just transition. Rebecca said: “I’m really excited to work alongside the other Fellows and wider COP 26 Universities Network to inform and support COP 26 in Glasgow next year. My work will align evidence for a socially equitable energy transition with financial, environmental, and other outcomes, providing policymakers with useful and usable evidence to deliver a prosperous and equitable net-zero society.”

See Rebecca’s video