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Alliance of universities for climate action, achieving net-zero targets

Just days ahead of the UN climate change conference, COP26, the University of Birmingham and Southeast University in China have joined forces to lead the establishment of a global alliance of universities aiming to boost their contribution to fighting climate change and achieving net-zero targets.

The World Alliance of Universities on Carbon Neutrality (WAUCN) forms a worldwide partnership of institutions with research strengths in this field — aiming to deliver science, engineering and technological solutions to help achieve climate change mitigation targets.

The partnership brings together talented academics and students from high-profile global universities to work with industry, business, government, and research sectors towards achieving carbon neutrality.

The University of Birmingham and Southeast University in Nanjing have been working in partnership for some years to create sustainable energy solutions.

WAUCN unites 15 top Chinese universities, including Shanghai Jiao Tong, University of Science and Technology of China, and Zhejiang University — as well as 13 global universities, including Imperial College London, Monash University, and the National University of Singapore.

It also involves close cooperation with Jiangsu Provincial People’s government.

Launched at a global online event, Professor Zhang Guangjun, President of Southeast University and Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, welcomed over 80 representatives from partner universities and research institutions.

M.A. Xin, Vice Governor of Jiangsu Provincial People’s government, addressed the meeting of scientists from across the globe.

Professor Sir David Eastwood said: “Climate change is one of the biggest threats we face in modern times and, seizing the momentum of the Paris Agreement, the UK has led the world in setting the ambitious target of achieving net-zero by 2050.

“Science and innovation are critical to achieving and sustaining carbon neutrality. We believe that a worldwide universities alliance will constitute a key addition to the rapidly growing global coalition for net-zero emission and carbon neutrality.

“Through our shared research expertise and innovation, the University of Birmingham will address the challenges of climate change — helping to achieve the ambitions of this new world alliance, as we work together across many different disciplines and countries.”

As well as forming joint research partnerships that deliver solutions to move the world towards net zero, WAUCN will organise international conferences, symposia, and workshops that can create further momentum towards achieving carbon neutrality.

Professor Jon Frampton, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor (China) at the University of Birmingham, said: “On the eve of world leaders gathering at COP26 in Glasgow to discuss the environmental challenges facing our planet, the foundation of this international alliance with partners from China and beyond is a great example of global cooperation.

“The University of Birmingham has long-established and valued links with China and we are proud to be working with our colleagues in China to work on the most challenging issues that affect the whole world.”

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