Starting from Sunday 31 October 2021, the UK hosted the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow.  World leaders and climate experts gather to discuss how to lower global temperatures and prevent irreversible climate disaster.

The four main goals of COP26 are:

    1. Secure global ‘net zero’ by mid-century and meet the goal of keeping warming under 1.5 degrees. The cost of failure will be astronomical with the difference between .5 degrees Celsius resulting in the submersion of small island states, the death of coral reefs, extreme heat waves, flooding and wildfires, and crop failure. This will inevitably result in deaths, mass migration, major economic losses. This goal could be met by phasing out coal, curtailing deforestation, switching to electric vehicles and investing in renewables.
    2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats, specifically those in the Global South facing immediate risk. This could be achieved by protecting and restoring ecosystems and building defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and lives.
    3. Mobilise finance and ensure wealthy countries increase climate finance to help poorer countries transition to clean energy and adapt to climate change. This is an important issue of justice as it is developing countries who are most affected by climate change but also those who have contributed least to it.
    4. Work together to avert climate disaster.

Our CESET Principal Investigator Professor Castán Broto was invited to participate in the panel session Urban informality & inequality – a call for global climate justice” organised by the Commonwealth Local Government Forum in partnership with Cities Alliance and UK Research and Innovation. The session brought together international speakers and audience members from local and city governments; central governments; research communities; and civil society to discuss climate justice and the importance of taking account of the cumulative risks created by conditions of urban informality, inequality and climate vulnerability in developing effective responses to climate change. The panel was asked to identify priorities for action and the role that researchers, civil society actors, city governments and policy makers can play in strengthening local action for sustainable climate justice. The purpose was to help shape critical policy and research priorities for addressing climate change equitably in cities – where informality and inequality are the reality. The event helped shape priorities for research and local action to ensure better chances of achieving urban climate justice.

Vanesa noted that panel members had given many examples of how people in informal settlements could be active makers in their own urban environments and she also acknowledged that co-production and participative strategies had been used to draw out people ‘s concerns relating to localised planning processes. Unfortunately, in a world shaped by colonial and imperial history, some forms of knowledge continued to be downgraded, dismissed, and ignored. People routinely suffered epistemic injustice with local knowledge and experience seen as irrelevant in favour of ‘expert’ advice. In Vanesa’s opinion, this must be challenged and Universities would have a massive role to play in future knowledge co-production processes.

You can watch the full panel session via the YouTube link, noting that Vanesa presents from 1:03hours.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iz5XiNVl-ig