How to best address climate change? Reflections on the Science for Net-Zero Transition and Empowering Policy Makers panels

In November of last year, The United Kingdom hosted 26 United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). The Climate talks brought together over 30 000 delegates, among them Climate experts, politicians and activists to discuss actions in order to address climate change.

In the fringe of COP26, UKRI and Science Europe convened the Science for Net-Zero Transition symposium; a gathering of senior government officials and eminent scientists to discover how lessons from the COVID19 pandemic can help us to address the climate crisis.

Another COP26 side event was held by CESAER, the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN), Science Europe and the University of Strathclyde. It addressed the issue of empowering policy makers and it discussed how best to mobilise scientific communities across the world in response to climate change.

Speakers at the Science for Net-Zero Transition symposium reflected on their approaches to science-policy and the importance of bringing scientific and non-scientific players closer together and how to make that happen. They also provided recommendations on how the cooperation among all the actors can be improved and applied when it comes to different contexts and transnational, national and regional ecosystems. Their main reflections were as follows:

  • Importance of transdisciplinary research and inclusion of nature sciences and humanities.
  • Co-founding with private partners.
  • Close collaboration between research partners and other collaborators.
  • We should be aware of fact that science policy and innovation is a small part of the picture, other actors might have a great role.
  • Importance of open access and dissemination.
  • There should be more programmes on impact of research.
  • Science communities should work together.
  • Making sure that what comes out of research is implemented and used in the right way.
  • Using campuses as living laboratories for the development of new systems.
  • Cooperating with partners beyond academia on national, multinational and global level.
  • We need significant investments on renewals.
  • We need to share best practises between different institutions, how we can learn from remote places.
  • Government funding.
  • Long-term funding plans (not just an annual plan).
  • Investments in young people.

Speakers at the Empowering Policy Makers panel addressed the issue of bridging the gap between policy and science. As a result of the speakers’ input, some elements were identified that would serve to improve the interaction between science and policy to address climate change:

  • Communication with and engagement of stakeholders.
  • Supporting and rewarding communication and science-advice activities.
  • Involving researchers in policy co-creation mechanisms.
  • Removing barriers to the science-policy interface.
  • Fostering international collaboration.
  • Engagement of citizens, also investing in research.
  • No one is safe until everyone is safe.
  • Providing consistent messages from the scientific sectors, even if they are uncomfortable.
  • Citizens engagement, needs for social adjustment: we need to be able to demand that from politicians.
  • Science policy and the role of science as knowledge breakers.
  • All scientific disciplines need to be on board.
  • We need more partnerships.
  • We need local solutions.

For more information, see links below.

Links to panels and videos:

  1. Science for Net Zero Transition: Linking Green Objectives with Societal Development, online, 8.11.2021
  2. Empowering Policy Makers with Informed Scientific Knowledge to Address the Climate Crisis, online, 10.11.2021

You can find recordings of the symposium on Science Europe’s YouTube channel:

Link to a the “Science for green transition” report:

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