Written by: Kimberly White 

Universities from around the globe have joined together to form a new global alliance to tackle the climate crisis. 

Facilitated by the University of New South Wales Sydney (UNSW Sydney), the International Universities Climate Alliance (IUCA) aims to provide a platform for universities to disseminate the latest climate research and provide evidence-based recommendations to world leaders in an effort to ramp up global climate action.

“Worldwide interest to act on climate change is strong but the pace of action has been far too slow. The Alliance aims to accelerate the global response by being a leading voice for scientifically based mitigation and adaptation strategies,” said Matthew England, UNSW Climate Change Research Centre Professor. 

Universities play a critical role in combatting climate change. Not only do they provide vast amounts of essential climate research, but universities are also charged with educating the next generation of world leaders and climate scientists. 

Forty universities have joined the Alliance thus far. Founding members include the University of Edinburgh, Arizona State University, the University of Hong Kong, the University of Ghana, and the University of Waikato. Through the Alliance, the universities hope to provide civil society, policymakers, and educators with better access to climate change science as well as adaptation and mitigation strategies. 

“The University of Hong Kong supports the IUCA as a vehicle for promoting research into climate change and its effects. Our climate recognises no borders and so an international effort harnessing the innovative research of our universities to tackle critical issues such as greenhouse gas emissions is needed,” said Matthew Evans, Dean of Science and Professor of Ecology, University of Hong Kong.

Prior to COVID-19, April was planned by many to be a big month for environmental action because of 2020 being the decade of ambition and the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day. However, social distancing and increased safety precautions have led to many events being canceled, postponed, or held digitally. 

Key UN climate talks have been postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Initially set to take place in Glasgow this November, COP26 will be rescheduled to take place in 2021. 

The delay is a source of worry for several prominent climate experts, fearing the delay will cause climate action progress to stall and countries will fail to develop ambitious climate commitments to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Despite the global pandemic caused by COVID-19, the IUCA decided not to delay the formation of the Alliance as climate change continues to be an ongoing threat. 

According to UNSW Sydney, an alliance charter is currently under development, and there will be a series of meetings planned to coordinate Alliance member activities.