The urgent need to accelerate the phase-out of coal is one of the stretching targets identified by the United Nations climate change conference, COP26. It’s essential to securing global net zero by mid-century and keeping 1.5 degrees within reach. COP26 also recognises that we can only achieve the targets by working together – an approach that we’ve already adopted and that is delivering results.
2021’s Reuters Hot List names five of our experts as the UK’s most influential climate scientists and the only UK climate scientists to feature in the global top 21. The outstanding work of these researchers and their colleagues ensures the University of Exeter continues to be a globally recognised research and innovation hub at the forefront of climate change.
For example, Professor Pierre Friedlingstein (Global Systems Institute) who is No.3 on Reuters Hot List, is the lead author of the Global Carbon Budget Report. The report examines progress in cutting fossil CO2 emissions since 2015’s Paris Agreement and is strengthening the arguments to phase-out coal and implement climate change laws and policies.
Professor Ian Bateman, Director of the Land, Environment, Economics and Policy (LEEP) Institute at the University of Exeter Business School, led production of a major new report: Climate Change: Science and Solutions. A collaboration between the Royal Society and British Academy, the report aims to boost research and investment in areas that will become critical to countries’ emissions targets over the next 30 years.
It also urges G7 and COP26 governments to use the economic recovery from COVID-19 as a “turning point” on climate, allowing potentially impactful greenhouse gas reduction pledges to be implemented through investments. This will not only create jobs and long-term benefits for the environment, economies and global wellbeing.
Professor Bateman - Director of the Land, Environment, Economics and Policy (LEEP) Institute at the University of Exeter Business School
Through working collaboratively with policymakers in China, Brazil, India, the UK and the EU, our international consortium of world-leading experts are supporting the development of innovative decision-making tools. These tools can help governments to better understand the challenges associated with the rapid transition and to inform effective decarbonisation policy initiatives.
Outcomes to date include:
As the world works towards global net zero by 2050, we are playing a key, leading and collaborative role in many areas that are influencing policy, shaping change and making an impact.
We are playing a pivotal role in two projects linked to the £20 million Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC): Creating a Net Zero Sense of Place and Just Transition. One of these projects, led by Professor Patrick Devine-Wright from our Department of Geography and the Global Systems Institute, is leading research which is at the forefront of reducing the carbon footprint of heavy and energy intensive industries in the UK.
Patrick Devine-Wright - Professor in Human Geography at the University of Exeter and Global Systems Institute
It is of course also essential that as we phase-out the use of coal, it is done safely and sustainably. The Merida project will ensure the phasing out of coal is done in an environmentally responsible way by creating specific guidance to assess the environmental impacts of coal mines at closure and post-closure stages. This is establishing an integrated risk assessment methodology and a practical methodology that can be used to evaluate the risk of remediation measures.
Coal and other fossil fuels are the energy of the past. At the University of Exeter, we are focused on the future, and finding ways to get there – sustainably.