Some of the GloSAT team attended COP26 in Glasgow this month. Tom Lloyd Webb, a postdoctoral researcher at University of York, has written a short report about the experience.

This month I attended UN COP26 in Glasgow as a country independent scientific observer to the negotiations, part of the cryosphere delegation with the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI).

My role  involved presenting overviews of my research into the Coastal Cryosphere, chairing sessions and being involved in the organisation of the thematic Cryosphere pavilion. All presentations were broadcast online, and live to parallel event hubs in Glasgow, Stockholm, Geneva and Kathmandu. 

The venue was split into two zones, blue and green. Negotiators, policymakers, and world leaders could be found in the blue zone, whilst businesses were represented in the green zone. Time constraints meant I only visited the blue zone, which housed 89 pavilions, mostly representing individual countries. A highlight was running into GloSAT PI Ed Hawkins MBE, from University of Reading who was escorting a rockstar around the UK Pavilion (see photograph).


GloSAT scientists Tom Webb and Ed Hawkins bumped into each other at COP26 (photo courtesy: Tom Webb)


Outside the venue I did see the occasional handful of protesters, but I didn’t have the opportunity to see, first-hand, any of the ~100,000 who marched through the streets of Glasgow on Saturday. The only disruption I experienced was the road closures for world leaders so they could go to dinner, four hours before they left the venue.

In Glasgow I was staying in a scientist only apartment organised by ICCI. This was fantastic for my personal development, as the other scientists were in complementary fields to my own and I imagine that I will see them at other events in the future.

COP26 was an excellent opportunity for me to expand my network, which I did in-between running side-events, attending plenaries and other meetings. It was also a great opportunity to explore the policy sphere.

I was especially vocal in encouraging commitment to global warming of 1.5°C or under in order to avoid irreversible and sudden changes to the frozen parts of the Earth. I was also proactive in outreach activities, interviewing for journalists, local radio, and climate activist organisations like Fridays for Future.

An important part of my COP26 experience that I did not expect was meeting (and throat singing) with representatives of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. I would really like to work further with indigenous cultures as a result.


You can find Tom on twitter: @thomaslwebb