Climate Outreach at COP26: placing people at the heart of climate action
The UK hosted this year’s UN climate conference (COP26) in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November, and like many organisations we worked hard to make it as impactful as possible. Our own focus was on putting public engagement at the heart of the conference. In the lead up to the conference we outlined why this is so vital. and as the conference closed we reflected on its outcomes.
Events & exhibits co-hosted by Climate Outreach
Press conference: 26 COPs and no humanity? Don't let COP fail on human rights
12 November 17:30-18:00 GMT, Blue Zone (Durdle Door room) – co-hosted with Action Aid, CARE Climate Change, and CIEL
Watch the recording here. At the very end of the very last official day of the climate negotiations, with the negotiations spilling into the weekend, we held a joint press conference with Action Aid, CARE Climate Change, and Centre for International Environmental Law to call for urgent action to ensure the UN climate talks do not fail on human rights.
Catalysing our net zero future: working with people to take action on climate change
1 November 9:30-11am GMT, Green Zone (Tower Base South) – co-hosted with CAST (Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations)
Watch the recording here (starts at 28 min). This session energised the audience on the potential for people as agents of change – in different roles and different ways – to contribute to a net zero and climate resilient future. While systemic government action is critical to our low carbon transition, citizens must be engaged in ways that support them to take action. Drawing on evidence-based, practical insights, the session offered different examples of how to understand the barriers people face to taking action, and solutions on how to break them down. The panel included our Researcher Dr Susie Wang and was chaired by Dr Stuart Capstick (CAST). The event also featured a video message from Prof Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist and communicator named one of Times’ 100 most influential people.
The power of public engagement for harnessing climate action: stories and lessons of empowerment from around the world
5 November 14:15-15:45 GMT, Blue Zone (Meeting Room 4) – co-hosted with the UK Presidency for COP26
Watch the recording here. This event co-hosted with the UK Presidency for COP26 brought together powerful and inspiring voices from around the world to share their personal journeys on galvanising climate action through public engagement. The evidence is increasingly clear that in addition to scientific and financial solutions, public engagement is crucial to implement policy initiatives successfully. From activists and young people to business leaders and ministers, the speakers shared what they have learned and what more can be done to harness a ‘whole of society’ approach to climate action. The session involved two panel discussions, as well as ‘vox pops’ of people from around the world.
Climate Visuals photography exhibits
During the entire conference, both Blue and Green Zones
Our Climate Visuals photography exhibits featured prominently in some of the most influential negotiating spaces at the conference in the Blue Zone (the Leaders Lounge; the main thoroughfare connecting delegate meeting rooms; and the Catering and Coffee area) as well as the Green Zone.
The exhibits showcased impactful, diverse photography showing what climate change really looks like around the world. The collection was curated from several sources, including:
- our open call for photography in collaboration with TED Countdown which attracted submissions from photographers in over 150 countries and has resulted in 100 images freely available to global editorial media, educators and campaigners
- our collaborative web resource on Indigenous media presence, which provides 8 recommendations for the media to achieve a lasting, positive, and impactful media presence for Indigenous peoples
- images from a soon-to-be released project with Natural England aiming to increase engagement with nature and climate through diversifying representation in English nature imagery
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Events Climate Outreach is participating in
Visualising climate: young people’s responses to the climate emergency
2 November 13:30-14:30 GMT, Green Zone (Science Show Theatre) – hosted by the University of Plymouth
Watch the recording here (starts at 11 min). This session sought to empower the generation who will be most impacted by the effects of climate change. Young people’s voices are crucial to adaptation and resilience, and visuals and media provide powerful tools to convey their hopes and fears. The session was aimed not only at young people but also to teachers, journalists and policymakers. Our Visuals and Media Lead, Toby Smith, joined the panel.
Launch of the 'Climatic Change' journal's Topical Collection entitled 'Climate change communication and the IPCC'
5 November 14:30-16:00 GMT, Blue Zone (IPCC/WMO/Met Office Science Pavilion)
Watch the recording here. This Topical Collection launched at COP6 showcases expertise in the international research, policy and other stakeholder communities in communicating climate change, and its relevance to the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
It contains a research paper co-authored by staff from Climate Outreach and the IPCC titled “Evaluating effective public engagement: Local stories from a global network of IPCC scientists”. It describes the findings of a global survey that gathered practical examples of efforts by IPCC Working Group I (WGI) authors to engage non-specialist audiences around the world with climate change. The research builds upon a Communications Handbook for IPCC authors and a bespoke photo library produced by Climate Outreach.
Why public engagement and participation are essential for building the mandate for strong climate action in the global north: evidence, examples and strategy
5 November, 17:00-18:00 GMT, Blue Zone (The Denmark Pavilion, Pavilion 34) – hosted by Denmark
This interactive discussion about how we can reach across society to galvanize changes in attitudes and behaviour change in high emitting countries had a focus on practical examples and experience. The conversation was moderated by Lars Koch (Action Aid Denmark) and brought in our Founding Director George Marshall and Visuals and Media Lead Toby Smith as well as Theresa Lund Andersen (Green Student Movement in Denmark).
What is journalism getting right and wrong on climate change?
5 November 18:00-20:00 GMT, New Glasgow Society (1307 Argyle Street) – hosted by University of Glasgow
The recording will be made available soon. Climate is in the news more than ever, so why aren’t we all closer to acting on climate change and what role does the media have in our political and social response? University of Glasgow’s Dominic Hinde led a conversation with Head of the Glasgow Media Group Dr Catherine Happer, environmental journalists and our Visuals and Media Lead Toby Smith to ask where journalism is succeeding and failing on climate change.
Films as agents for change: watch Climate Crimes and discuss with communication experts how best to inspire change
8 November 16:00- 17:00 GMT, Green Zone (Planetarium) – hosted by EnviroFest International
This event featured the award-winning, immersive, full-dome film Climate Crimes which was created using climate data and statistics to bridge art and science as it seeks to uncover the complex relationship between global air pollution, climate change and human migration. The film served as a launch pad for a panel discussion featuring experts in climate science, communications and community engagement – including our Visuals and Media Lead Toby Smith – about how we communicate the urgency and threat of climate change while empowering communities to engage with effective solutions.
Women and water
9 November, Green Zone (Virual Equality Lounge) – hosted by the Female Quotient
On COP26’s Gender, Science and Innovation day, our Director of Research and Programmes Dr Amiera Sawas joined a panel of brilliant women from business, philanthropy, the arts & policy. They discussed how it is only when we come together that we can create solutions that are inclusive and locally appropriate. On this same day, Amiera was interviewed by TRT World on the role of women in addressing climate change.
Other Climate Outreach activities at COP26
Interviewing delegates at COP26 with Egyptian partners
During the first week of the conference, Green Zone
Egypt will be hosting COP27 next year and we have been delighted to pick up our existing collaboration with Egyptian partner Greenish in Glasgow. During COP26, our Advocacy Communications Lead Robin Webster supported Greenish in conducting a series of interviews on what the COP process is and why it matters. These videos will be valuable resources for Egyptian civil society to help lay the groundwork for COP27. We’ve posted one of the videos below, and the rest can be watched here.
Climate Outreach's Climate science Ambassadors
During the entire conference, both Blue and Green Zones
Meet our Climate science Ambassadors. Just as science is driven by evidence, scientists can (and should) draw on the evidence base about what works (and doesn’t work) when it comes to communicating it. Through our public engagement Ambassador programme, we’ve been supporting our first cohort of new and diverse voices from across the UK climate research community to connect the science with what matters for people. These climate experts have already got a number of speaking events lined up at COP26 and we invite any organisation looking for additional speakers to review our list of Ambassadors.
Many thanks to the generous support of the IKEA Foundation, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, and the KR Foundation for supporting our activities at COP26.
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