COP26: Researchers set to attend Glasgow conference

28 October 2021

  • University of Warwick one of limited number granted official observer status
  • Professor Bradshaw is a leading expert on global energy in the country
  • He will be joined by Emma Macdonald and Hugh Wilson at COP26
  • The pair will be demonstrating their Earth simulation game in Glasgow

WBS Professor Michael Bradshaw will be one of 17 delegates from the University of Warwick attending the global climate conference COP26 in Glasgow alongside research by Emma Macdonald and Hugh Wilson.

The University of Warwick is one of a limited number of institutions to have been granted official observer status by the United Nations (UN) led conference, which is being hosted by the UK.

The delegates attending the conference reflect the University of Warwick’s strengths across sustainability, from political economy, to engineering, to life sciences. The invitation to send so many representatives is recognition of the contribution the University is making to deliver net zero in the UK and across the world.

This includes plans to create an Eco Park on University-owned land in Warwickshire, helping to accelerate the battery economy, hosting the UK’s first conference on Micromobility, and developing cutting edge Very Light Rail technology.

Professor Bradshaw (pictured), Professor of Global Energy, researches the global energy dilemmas and the interrelationship between energy security, climate change and economic globalisation. As well as being the academic lead for the University of Warwick's Global Research Priority on Energy, Professor Bradhsaw is Co-Director of the UK Energy Research Centre.

“The science is unequivocal with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's latest report on the physical evidence for climate change has been described as a ‘Code Red for humanity’,” said Professor Bradshaw, who teaches Managing Sustainable Energy Transitions on the Executive MBA.

“But there is ample evidence that our current pledges and commitments, even if we lived up to them, fall well short of what is required to meet the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. In fact, the UN’s own assessment suggests that the current commitments and pledges going into COP26 would result in 2.7 degrees of global warming. Thus, we need to close this persistent ‘credibility gap.’

“Given my interest in the energy transition and the role of the oil and gas industry and oil-exporting countries, I am particularly interested in how we can close the so-called ‘production gap’ whereby we are currently planning to invest twice as much in future fossil fuel production than we can burn and remain within our near-term carbon budgets.

“The question is how can the reserve-holding states - the UK included - be persuaded to leave their oil and gas in the ground? Furthermore, what would this mean for the world’s oil and gas industry, both the super majors and the national oil companies. Now, the credibility gap means that many producers do not believe that demand will peak and rapidly decline leaving them with stranded assets. Even if this is to happen, as is required, it presents an existential risk to current business models and economic strategies, which if not properly managed will cause economic and geopolitical problems.”

Also at COP26 will be Professor Macdonald and Professor Wilson, both Professors of Marketing, who have developed a role-playing learning experience designed to engage participants in long-term, systemic thinking, helping them to explore alternative pathways to a sustainable future by 2050.

It was recognised by the Financial Times as being an example of best practice in teaching about sustainability. At COP26, Professors Macdonald and Wilson will be acting as games masters, alongside Cranfield University's Sustainability Network.

During the game, players representing established businesses interact with players representing entrepreneurs, policymakers, civil society organisations and ‘the public voice’ as they all react to changes in the economy, technology, and society. The ‘winners’ are judged not only by the number of resources they have accumulated, but also by whether they have achieved their purpose, and the teams reflect on the nature of the world they have collectively created through their decisions.

Professor Christine Ennew, Provost at the University of Warwick and Sustainability Lead, said: “It is a huge honour and responsibility to send so many delegates to what is one of the most important global conferences of our generation.

“Across the University, our staff and students have been working tirelessly to shape global policymaking, invent future transport solutions, and de-carbonise our own campus. Our delegation will seek to work closely with policymakers and business leaders attending COP26 to shape future policy and tackle the Climate Crisis across the world.

“As an institution which takes great pride in being based in the West Midlands, we will be representing our home region and sharing innovations and ideas which can support communities at home as well as abroad.”

The two-week conference begins on 31st October and runs until 12th November and will welcome leaders from across the world. It is hoped the conference will result in comprehensive, multi-national action to tackle climate change.

To find out more about what Warwick Business School and the University of Warwick are doing around sustainability click here.

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