Climate researchers meeting today (Wednesday 16 September) are calling for an acceleration in action to reduce annual global emissions of greenhouse gases to net zero.

A statement released as an outcome of the virtual conference on ‘Pathways to Net Zero Emissions’ points out that all countries are committed to the Paris Agreement’s target of net zero global emissions by the second half of this century, but many have still not set a national target for net zero or outlined how to reach the target.

It states: “We pledge to carry out research, analysis and engagement activities across disciplinary and geographical boundaries to develop the technologies, policies and strategies to accelerate the achievement of net zero global emissions of greenhouse gases and climate resilience. We will work with policy-makers in order to implement rapidly these technologies, policies and strategies in a way that is consistent with other local, national, regional and global objectives, such as the Sustainable Development Goals. We recognise that countries are at very different stages of development and the transition to net zero emissions can and must be carried out in a way that improves living standards and reduces poverty around the world.”

The conference is organised by the Global Alliance of Universities on Climate (GAUC), which was launched in January 2019, and now has 13 member institutions of higher education based in nine countries. The conference is overseen by the London School of Economics and Political Science, Imperial College London, University of Cambridge and Tsinghua University.

Many of the member institutions of the GAUC are based in countries that have not set national targets for net zero emissions. The statement points out:

“Stopping climate change requires global coordinated action. Many countries have now recognised the urgency required to realise the goals of the Paris Agreement and have set targets for reducing their national emissions to net zero. However, few have yet created detailed plans for achieving net zero emissions or carbon neutrality. As the Paris Agreement explicitly recognises, capacity-building support is urgently needed for developing countries to contribute to the realisation of the long-term global goal of net zero emissions, or carbon neutrality.”

The conference is expected to begin today with speeches from:

  • Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and President of the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) in 2021.
  • Xie Zhenhua, President of Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development at Tsinghua University, and formerly Vice-Chairman (minister level) of the National Development and Reform Commission and China’s special representative on climate change.
  • Professor Lord Stern of Brentford, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and ‘Friend of COP26’.

The statement also notes the need for universities to reduce their emissions. It states: “We also recognise the need for researchers to lead by example and to help their host institutions and organisations to reach net zero emissions in their operations.”


For further information about the conference, including access to the public session, please contact Niamh Brannigan at or +44 (0) 7933997989/ +254 (0) 717733348                                                    

Notes for editors

About the Global Alliance of Universities on Climate (GAUC)
The GAUC was launched in January 2019. The GAUC is intended to provide a mechanism for exchange and cooperation, specifically to lead efforts from global higher education to examine the technical, social, psychological, institutional and economic issues of climate change and how practical action can be implemented. Its member institutions. Its member institutions are:

  • Australian National University
  • Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
  • Imperial College London
  • Indian Institute of Science
  • London School of Economics and Political Science (Co-Chair)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Sciences Po
  • Stellenbosch University
  • Tsinghua University (Co-Chair)
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Tokyo

Further information about the GAUC can be found at:

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