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COP26 Fellowship for Leeds researcher

Press release

A Priestley Centre researcher has been awarded a Fellowship to engage with the international climate negotiations in the run up to the 26th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26).

Harriet Thew, a postgraduate researcher and graduate teaching associate in the School of Earth and Environment at Leeds, is one of four UK researchers to receive the Fellowship.

The COP26 Fellowships will support the international climate negotiations through the provision, synthesis, translation and interpretation of scientific evidence. They are sponsored by UKRI through the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and offered through the Place-Based Climate Action Network (PCAN).

Harriet has many years’ experience in youth participation at previous COPs. Her Fellowship is titled: YES TO Net Zero (Youth, Education, Skills and Training to Operationalise Net Zero).

She said: “This Fellowship will investigate how young people can drive forward a just transition towards Net Zero and contribute to a green recovery from COVID-19.

“I’m really looking forward to working with policy-makers and young people in the lead up to COP26 to ensure that young people are heard, valued and invested in.”

The opportunity to become a COP26 Fellow proved very popular, with 129 applications made through video submissions and an online form.

Harriet Thew’s successful application video

The four successful Fellows are:

  • Harriet Thew (University of Leeds): YES TO Net Zero (Youth, Education, Skills and Training to Operationalise Net Zero)
  • Thomas Hale (University of Oxford): From “Groundswell” to “All of Society”: How local governments, business, and civil society can contribute to the implementation phase of the Paris Agreement
  • Jessica Omukuti (University of York): Making money go further: Scaling climate finance through local delivery
  • Rebecca Ford (University of Strathclyde): ALIGN: ALigning Impacts for Getting to Net-zero.

The Fellowships will be awarded for the academic year 2020/21 and run until mid-November 2021, covering the pre-COP26 process and COP26 itself.

The Fellows will be embedded into the activities of the COP26 universities network run by the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London and led by Alyssa Gilbert, institute Director of Policy and Translation.  The Fellowships will form the nucleus of a broader programme of coordinated outputs and events by UK universities ahead of COP26.

COP26 President Alok Sharma said:  “I offer my warmest welcome to the new COP26 Fellows and look forward to them bringing their expertise to the work already underway.

“The COP26 Universities Network will play a vital role to inform and communicate the need for meaningful climate action in the run up to the summit.”

Alyssa Gilbert said: “We are looking forward to integrating these Fellows, their work and their energy into the heart of the COP26 universities network. Their research activities will be shared with others in the universities network, to stimulate our academic communities to get involved in COP26.

“In addition, each of these fellows has clear plans for engaging with decision makers, and these approaches can be amplified and shared by the other engagement activities of the universities network.”

Professor Alison Park, Director of Research at ESRC, said: “I am delighted with the announcement of the four COP26 Fellowships. These will provide a unique opportunity for the four researchers, each at different stages in their research careers and from different disciplinary backgrounds, to play an active role in COP26.

“Their work will play an important part in highlighting how UK research and evidence can contribute to collaborative decision making on our international transition to net zero.”