Community & Environment |
UNSW Sydney

World's top universities unite to tackle climate change amid COVID-19 challenge

Thursday 2 April 2020: An International Universities Climate Alliance (IUCA) has been formed to help accelerate the fight against climate change.

The IUCA comprises 40 of the world’s leading climate research universities in the united goal of ensuring governments, the public, media and industry have better access to research-based facts on climate change science, impacts, adaptation and mitigation.

UNSW Sydney, which has spearheaded the creation of the alliance to provide evidence-based recommendations to accelerate climate action, is initially coordinating the IUCA with member universities around the world.

UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Jacobs, said: “The climate alliance will elevate the voices of exceptional researchers by providing a new, global platform for universities to communicate climate research with authority internationally.

“This new platform is needed now more than ever as the world grapples with providing a coordinated approach to tackling climate change.”

Notwithstanding current urgencies around the COVID-19 pandemic, the alliance members decided not to delay the formation of the alliance due to the pressing and ongoing need to accelerate climate change mitigation and improve decision making.

An alliance charter is in development and a series of meetings are planned to coordinate the activities of members, which include many of the world’s best climate research institutions across a broad range of disciplines including science, economics, engineering, law, social science and planning. A website has been developed at www.universitiesforclimate.org and some of the universities include Arizona State University, California Institute of Technology, Nanjing University, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Hong Kong.

UNSW Climate Change Research Centre Professor, Matthew England, said: “Worldwide interest to act on climate change has been growing but the pace of that change has been far too slow. The alliance aims to accelerate climate action and ensure mitigation efforts are properly factored in with adaptation actions.”

Professor England noted that UNSW surveys of community attitudes across Australia conducted before the pandemic show that people see climate change as the biggest ongoing threat, and most agree a global alliance of universities can help government overcome policy gridlock.

“With various scientific and government-related reports across many nations demonstrating that climate change is causing more extreme events, it is understandable that people feel frustration about a lack of government policy and leadership in tackling this issue.”

Survey findings include:

 

·       Nearly 66 per cent of people support the creation of a global alliance of leading climate change researchers and universities to help political leaders understand the importance of addressing climate change.

·       Almost 63 per cent agree climate change is making some weather events more extreme, intense and regular.

·       Just over 67 per cent of all people believe Australia needs a comprehensive climate change policy.

·       72 per cent of people say renewable energy is crucial in helping to reduce harmful emissions and slow climate change.

·       77 per cent believe the best way to help Australia obtain a comprehensive climate change policy is through an open consultation process involving scientific leaders and the heads of the community, business and political parties.

 

Additional quotes attributable to Prof England:

The alliance members decided not to delay the formation of the alliance due to COVID-19, because of the pressing, ongoing need to accelerate climate change mitigation and improve decision-making.

 While universities like UNSW have set up a special COVID-19 Rapid Response Research initiative, not all of our researchers are able to lend expertise to the virus effort, and so other work will continue within the constraints of the current pandemic.

As hard as it is to comprehend amid virus information saturation, the climate change emissions pathway, with every delay, becomes so much harder to overcome.

With various scientific and government-related reports across many nations demonstrating that climate change is causing more extreme events, it is understandable that people feel frustration about a lack of government policy and leadership in tackling this issue.

This new International Universities Climate Alliance is united in helping to break through this barrier so decision makers can have better access to, and understanding of, research-based facts on climate change impacts, adaptation and, most importantly, mitigation.

Media contact: Stuart Snell, ph 0416 650 906 or s.snell@unsw.edu.au.

 

Climate Alliance Member Universities

Arizona State University

Sorbonne University

University of Leeds

California Institute of Technology

TERI School of Advanced Studies

University of Manchester

China University of Geosciences

Texas A&M University

University of Melbourne

Cornell University

Universidade de São Paulo

University of Nairobi

Delft University of Technology

University of Bern

UNSW Sydney

Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

University of Bremen

University of Reading

King’s College London

University of Bristol

University of Southampton

McGill University

University of East Anglia

University of Tasmania

Monash University

University of Edinburgh

University of the South Pacific

Nanjing University

University of Exeter

University of Waikato

National University of Singapore

University of Ghana

University of Washington

New York University

University of Helsinki

Utrecht University

Oregon State University

University of Hong Kong

Penn State University

University of Illinois

Media

Photos

930198