The UK is building up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) being held in Glasgow during the first two weeks of November this year – but are universities really doing enough to connect with people ‘on the ground’ when it comes to tackling climate change?

My analysis of media coverage about what universities and their experts are saying on this issue shows that there’s too much emphasis on the problems and not enough on the solutions.

Over the last 12 months the number of academic experts highlighting their research and their opinions on climate change has risen dramatically – as part of the underlining that the UK is at the forefront of international debate and analysis.

However, the vast majority of media interest in university experts has focused on the increasing state of the damage that climate change is causing and the threats to our future – the dramatic erosion of ice sheets, rise in sea levels, temperature rises, wildfires, food shortages, increasing public health issues, pollution, loss of wildlife species, and so on. While this is important, universities are missing out on emphasising the roles that they are playing in addressing these threats and the provision of remedies through innovations, inventions and education.

That’s why Communications Management has devised a campaign for the University Alliance (group of 12 UK universities) to promote the practical work that its institutions are undertaking to deliver solutions that every day people can relate to and appreciate as measures to counter their anxieties.

Powering Action on Climate Change launches this month and we are working with the Alliance to promote the practicalities of their climate change expertise and the views/advice of their academics who are attending to new developments to mitigate the risks of climate damage. We’ve create a series of news packages that address relatable issues in: transport, energy, housing, food, water, air quality, pollution, consumer behaviour, business, communities, teaching in schools, law, and so on.

By doing this we’ll be able to demonstrate that universities are actually making a difference on a range of measures that tackle climate change – and that many practical solutions are available. And we won’t just be perpetuating the continuing news cycle of disaster stories and crises when it comes to climate change.

To find out more about the campaign, visit:

Justin Shaw, Chief Higher Education Consultant, is leading the development of the Powering Action on Climate Change campaign.

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