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University of the Highlands and Islands academics and students get involved in COP26 climate change conference


By Calum MacLeod

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Professor Roxanne Andersen.
Professor Roxanne Andersen.

Experts from around the University of the Highlands and Islands partnership will be travelling to Glasgow to speak at the UN Climate Change Conference next month.

COP26, which takes place from Sunday, October 31, to Friday, November 12, will see world leaders and 20,000 delegates gather to discuss ways to tackle the climate emergency.

Speakers at the events will include three University of the Highlands and Islands academics.

Professor Roxane Andersen, a senior research fellow at North Highland College UHI's Environmental Research Institute in Thurso, meanwhile, has been invited to deliver two lectures as part of the United Nations Environment Programme's Peatland Pavilion events. Peatlands play an important role in soaking up harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping to regulate climate change.

Mark Shiner, a curriculum leader for maritime studies at Orkney College UHI, has been invited to present on his work in creating and delivering the world's first government recognised training course for crews of hydrogen powered vessels.

The course, which was developed by the college's maritime studies department, was completed by five crew members from Orkney Ferries earlier this year. Green hydrogen, which is produced using renewable electricity, can be used as a fuel for heat, power and transport.

Professor Jane Downes.
Professor Jane Downes.

Professor Jane Downes, director of the university's Archaeology Institute, will also travel from Orkney to attend the event. An expert on climate change and heritage, Professor Downes has been invited to present on the role of archaeology and heritage in addressing climate change for the Dalrymple lecture series. Delivered over four evenings and live streamed online, the lectures will consider how island archaeology – from Rapa Nui in the Pacific to Orkney – contributes to our understanding of sustainability and living with climate change now and in the future.

As well as activities in Glasgow, the university is also marking COP26 with events around its partnership.

Staff and students from the university's environment and sustainability group have organised a Green Week from Monday 1 to Friday 5 November. The event will include online sessions on environmental topics, a creative writing competition, an active travel challenge as well as video and blog content from students.

Arts and humanities staff and students are also contributing to the environmental theme.

HNC contemporary art practice students at Inverness College UHI will be presenting responses to COP26 in the college in November, leading to a projection exhibition for Human Rights Day in December. Mandy Haggith, a lecturer in creative writing and literature at Inverness College UHI, meanwhile, will have her work published in Gorwelion Shared Horizons, an anthology of writings for COP26 from Welsh, Scottish and Indian writers.

Dr Su Bryan, acting dean of the faculty of science, health and engineering, said: "There are many staff and students across our partnership who care deeply about climate change and who are playing their part to find solutions. Our academics are contributing their expertise nationally, across the sciences, arts and humanities.

"We are advising on oceans, uplands, peatlands and wetlands. There are contributions on weather, archaeology, coastal erosion, human experiences of landscape and the future of travel, all involving experts at national conferences and presentations within the ‘green zone' at COP26.

"In the Highlands and Islands, we may sometimes feel far away from the decisions which affect the big issues in our lives. But, as COP26 brings world leaders to Scotland to make decisions that will affect our planet, we can remind ourselves of the many ways that our staff and students are using their influence to help shape our future in relation to climate change and the significance of our voice in the debate."

To register for a free online ticket for Professor Jane Downes' lectures, visit www.gla.ac.uk/schools/humanities/events/archaeologyevents/dalrymplelectures


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