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World’s top universities unite to tackle climate change amid COVID-19 challenge

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UNSW Sydney has brought a global alliance of top climate change researchers together to provide a new, international platform for universities to communicate climate research with authority to our leaders. An International Universities Climate Alliance (IUCA) has been formed to help accelerate the fight against climate change.

The IUCA comprises 40 of the world’s leading climate research universities in the united goal of ensuring governments, the public, media and industry have better access to research-based facts on climate change science, impacts, adaptation and mitigation.

UNSW Sydney, which has spearheaded the creation of the alliance to provide evidence-based recommendations to accelerate climate action, is initially coordinating the IUCA with member universities around the world.

UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Jacobs, said: “The climate alliance will elevate the voices of exceptional researchers by providing a new, global platform for universities to communicate climate research with authority internationally.

“This new platform is needed now more than ever as the world grapples with providing a coordinated approach to tackling climate change.”

Notwithstanding current urgencies around the COVID-19 pandemic, the alliance members decided not to delay the formation of the alliance due to the pressing and ongoing need to accelerate climate change mitigation and improve decision making.

An alliance charter is in development and a series of meetings are planned to coordinate the activities of members, which include many of the world’s best climate research institutions across a broad range of disciplines including science, economics, engineering, law, social science and planning. A website has been developed at and some of the universities include Arizona State University, California Institute of Technology, Nanjing University, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Hong Kong.

UNSW Climate Change Research Centre Professor, Matthew England, said: “Worldwide interest to act on climate change has been growing but the pace of that change has been far too slow. The alliance aims to accelerate climate action and ensure mitigation efforts are properly factored in with adaptation actions.”

Professor England noted that UNSW surveys of community attitudes across Australia conducted before the pandemic show that people see climate change as the biggest ongoing threat, and most agree a global alliance of universities can help government overcome policy gridlock.

“With various scientific and government-related reports across many nations demonstrating that climate change is causing more extreme events, it is understandable that people feel frustration about a lack of government policy and leadership in tackling this issue.”

Survey findings include:

- Nearly 66 per cent of people support the creation of a global alliance of leading climate change researchers and universities to help political leaders understand the importance of addressing climate change.

- Almost 63 per cent agree climate change is making some weather events more extreme, intense and regular.

- Just over 67 per cent of all people believe Australia needs a comprehensive climate change policy.

- 72 per cent of people say renewable energy is crucial in helping to reduce harmful emissions and slow climate change.

- 77 per cent believe the best way to help Australia obtain a comprehensive climate change policy is through an open consultation process involving scientific leaders and the heads of the community, business and political parties.

Read more: Climate change mitigation can’t wait for Covid-19 to play out

This story was originally published on the UNSW Newsroom.