COP26: Adaptation, Loss and Damage Day

As we entered the second week of COP26, the COP President, Alok Sharma, opened with a statement on Monday 8th November 2021 about Adaptation, Loss and Damage Day. He acknowledged the extreme weather changes that have been seen across the globe, such as the floods in Central Europe and China, the wildfires across North America and Australia and the first climate induced drought in Southern Madagascar. These changes have shown that nowhere is immune to climate change.

Sharma explained that his focus was now on the pace of negotiations and bringing nearly 200 countries together to build a political consensus between one another, especially to support those countries that are most vulnerable to climate change and whose ‘voices are too often left unheard’. The Gambian environment minister, Lamin B Dibba, echoed this, stating that if the $100bn (£75bn) target was not reached that the ‘consequences for those nations would be grave’, clearly demonstrating that the climate crisis requires a collective approach, supported by the wealthiest countries. 

The Actions on Adaptation that need to be implemented are as follows:

  1. Plans and more finance to be put in place
  2. Protecting and restoring habitats
  3. All countries should produce an ‘Adaptation Communication’ – a summary of what they are doing and planning to do to adapt to the changing climate, challenges they face and where they need help.

In relation to the actions above, some of the figures agreed on Monday included, the global leaders committing a shift towards locally-led adaptation and over $450m mobilised for the initiative and programmes to enhance these approaches. The Adaptation Fund has now seen a pledge of of $232m, with the UK contributing $20m to this fund. The UK have also announced £290m in new funding for adaptation, including £274m for Climate Action for a Resilient Asia (CARA) programme. 

In addition, 88 countries are now covered by Adaptation Communication or National Adaptation Plans to increase preparedness to climate risks, with 38 published in the last year. The UK has co-developed the Adaptation Action Coalition and are inviting other countries to join their partnership to find solutions to some of the most challenging impacts of climate change.

Although there has been progress at made at COP26 and ‘important work has been done’, former US president Barak Obama , states that ‘we are nowhere near where we need to be yet’. 

HEPCW Member Focus - How The University of South Wales is tackling its carbon footprint

With an ambition to be carbon neutral by 2040, the University of South Wales (USW) has introduced a range of initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint.

Since being established in 2013, USW has achieved a 32% reduction in what are known as Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions – those that we make directly through things such as boilers and vehicles, and indirect emissions such as the electricity or energy we buy. But the work done since 2013 has just laid the foundations for cutting its environmental impact.

The university takes sustainability seriously, which is why it has been embedded through its 2030 Strategy and USW has made the 2040 commitment. To help USW achieve that ambition, a sustainability committee has been established, chaired by its Chief Operating Officer, to provide the leadership, co-ordination, and guidance to promote, develop and implement sustainability initiatives across all areas of the university. Six key sustainability focus groups have also been formed which are attended by colleagues and students to develop and implement sustainability initiatives across the university. 

USW has been managing its environmental impact for many years and has implemented many environmental initiatives to help support this, such as electric vehicle charging stations, LED lighting upgrades, only purchasing 100% renewable energy, monitoring energy use in each building, new waste streams to reduce contamination, creating landscapes that enhance diversity, transferring funds into environmentally-friendly investments, and working hard on more staff and student engagement. 

Over the past 18 months, USW has made significant progress in understanding and monitoring its carbon impact.  In 2020, the university created its first carbon footprint, using the 2018/19 financial year as the baseline.  

Since then, USW has created two further carbon footprints and are monitoring its progress towards the 2040 ambition.  

Using this information, the university knows that it has reduced its carbon emissions by 27% since 2018/1. However, it realises much of this will be impacted by the global pandemic so USW will be monitoring its impact closely over the next year to understand how this has changed emissions and environmental impact.

Alice Milanese, Energy and Sustainability Manager at USW, said: “Climate change is widely accepted as one of the greatest challenges facing the world today. USW, like all institutions, has a responsibility to address decarbonisation and to meet the UK and Welsh Government’s decarbonisation targets.

“There is a real drive across the institution to understand any challenges we have in improving our sustainability, and address these issues as quickly as possible.”

Staff and students who want to join USW’s network of sustainability champions and focus groups can find out more at: Get Involved | University of South Wales