As COP26 begins, Springer Nature's Climate Action Officer Thea Sherer discusses the importance of climate research, and the role the publishing industry can play to facilitate climate policy making.
Why is COP26 so important?
The UN Convention on Climate Change, also known as COP26 is underway. The conference, which has attracted significant media and political attention in recent weeks, is undoubtedly the most important climate collaboration for a generation, with its aim to ratchet global government’s climate commitments to meet the crucial 1.5 degree C threshold set out in Paris in 2015.
The world faces serious climate challenges that have increasingly become evident in the past few years. Challenges that climate researchers have warned about for decades. These warnings, and the reasons why this conference is particularly important, are explored further in Nature’s immersive Guide to COP.
What role can Springer Nature play as a publisher of climate research?
Although COP26 has created a busy news and policy agenda, research has a crucial role to play throughout the conference and beyond as highlighted by the Government Office for Science: a diverse range of research and innovation is needed to provide policymakers with the evidence they need to make informed climate decisions. To facilitate that role, Springer Nature launched Climate Research in Action: a campaign to highlight the importance of research in identifying climate solutions. As a publisher, we are well placed to shine a light on evidence based policy solutions to those making key climate decisions.
The campaign is hosted on a dedicated microsite and includes a brand new compilation of important solutions-focused climate research articles from across the Nature Portfolio to consolidate most helpful information in one place for those who seek it out.
Alongside vital information, we also wanted to provide some inspiration about what successful global climate collaboration looks like, and the role of research in that process. So we created a timeline detailing how science inspired global changes in policy and behaviour after the discovery of a hole in the ozone layer - first published in Nature in 1985, leading to the most successful environmental treaty to date, the Montreal Protocol. We were fortunate enough to commission a ‘behind the paper’ piece from Dr Paul Young and Dr Charles Parker exploring the background to this crucial research which we have hosted in our brand new Climate Research in Action channel in our Sustainability Community.
Beyond highlighting climate content, Springer Nature is also uniquely placed to bring together experts from across social, natural and applied science disciplines and sectors to highlight the benefits of an interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral responses to crises. Earlier this month, in partnership with UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, we hosted two roundtables with a truly diverse set of experts that explicitly looked at the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis and what lessons can be applied by governments and policymakers when addressing the latter. The outcomes of these roundtables will be presented virtually at COP26 in a discussion chaired by Nature Editor in Chief Magdalena Skipper later today. Such conversations reaffirm the unique role of Springer Nature in convening events like this that reach across sectors and specialisms, and create guidance with practical value as well as recommendations for policy makers and academics.
Climate Research in Action on rails
Ahead of COP26, rail companies from across Europe partnered together on #RailToTheCop. This was a joint initiative designed to encourage rail travel to the conference and included The Climate Train: a dedicated service taking over 500 delegates from across Europe to Glasgow, via Eurostar from the continent and Avanti for the second leg of the journey up to Scotland.
Thanks to Eurostar and Avanti, we were able to make the microsite available to passengers on board via a QR code, with the aim of providing them with all they need to have energised, informed and productive conversations en route and during the conference.
The original idea of the microsite was in part a response to the call from COP26 President Alok Sharma for academic evidence, research and rigour to make the case for climate action. We presented the campaign to Minister for Clean Growth, Energy and Climate Change Rt Hon Greg Hands MP with whom we welcomed the arrival of the train into St Pancras station over the weekend. Alongside him were Springer Nature’s local MP and Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade Emily Thornberry MP as well as His Excellency the Dutch Ambassador to the UK Karel van Oosterom. It was a wonderful opportunity to showcase the extent of our climate research publishing - which amounts to more than 40,000 articles or book chapters since 2015 - and also an international business integrating sustainability and taking actions to reduce climate impacts across our operations.
Although COP26 is a key milestone in the climate debate, and we hope for a successful conference that sets ambitious, transformative and research-based targets to address the climate crisis, we know that sustainability will remain an important area well beyond the end of the summit. While we’ve had endorsement from key policy stakeholders like the UK’s High Level COP26 Champion Nigel Topping, we plan to continue to engage with parliamentarians and political stakeholders, to support the climate decisions they need to make by making sure they’re aware of the research they need to do so.
For now, please do explore the Climate Research in Action campaign and go Behind the Paper on our Sustainability Community, which features plenty of exciting content that further explains the importance of research in driving climate action.